Actors: RZA, Russell Crowe, Rick Yune, Cung Le, Lucy Liu, Byron Mann, Jamie Chung
Rated: R / Unrated
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Running Time: 96 minutes (Theatrical) / 108 minutes (Unrated)
Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars
“The Man with the Iron Fists” is a real labor of love for the rapper RZA, he not only directs but also co-wrote and stars in this wannabe-grindhouse kung-fu film. Let’s say he might have taken a bit more than he can chew. The plot is a mess and all over the place. The film is co-written and produced by genre favorite Eli Roth and is presented by Quentin Tarantino but they don’t really lend anything to the film. I think the reason why I am so upset is that this film didn’t live up to what it could have been. The only thing that made this film barely watchable is the occasional and rare action and the gore. This definitely not for everyone but the hardcore genre fans.
I had a real problem with the constant narrative by RZA. You can tell that he is really trying to fill in the major plot holes with useless dialogue. The fighting scenes are great and are well choreographed. The blend of CG effects work sometimes and then look crazy fake the rest. Props needs to go to my buddy Greg Nicotero and his partner Howard Berger for delivering some really sweet gore, which like I said is one off the saving graces for this film. This Blu-ray contains a theatrical and an unrated cuts of the film. The theatrical runs 95-minutes long, while the unrated cut runs an extended 107-minutes. The 12 minutes are made up of additional plot and gore, which for the most part adds enough to the film to check it out again.
RZA…I am sorry but the guy is not an actor. He may be a great rapper but the dude can’t carry this film and drags in down. He plays it way too serious and almost laughable. Russell Crowe continues his travels to becoming my favorite actor after his fantastic role in “Les Misérables”. I mean the guy literally guts a man’s stomach and screams “My name is Mr. Knife. You can call me Jack”. This guy is the shit, hands down and he is a freak in this film. Byron Mann also kick-ass as the film’s main baddie. Keep an eye out for cameos from Pam Grier and Kung-fu legend Gordon Liu
Universal delivers in terms of the release here, yet again. It comes in a two-disc combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet. The DVD actually comes with both the theatrical and unrated cuts, usually that is not the case. Universal also did the same with this year’s “Death Race 3: Inferno”. The 1080p transfer on the Blu-ray is stunning and looks fantastic but with a supposed grindhouse film, should it really look this polished? The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track also works well with the action and RZA’s score. You can literally hear the bones breaking and the body parts flying. In terms of the audio/visual, this release is fantastic. That again goes to Universal who has yet to disappoint recently with their stunning releases.
Back to the negative side again of this film, the special features are not spectacular. There are about 20 minutes deleted and extended scenes. Some of decent but the rest is just filler. There is a super short featurette called “A Look Inside”, which has RZA talking about the film. It was actually quite interesting and then the two minutes were up and it left you wanting more. Next up we have “On the Set with RZA”, which is also very short and consist of five one-minute promos on the story, the cast and the special effects. Lastly “A Path to the East” is another two-minute behind-the-scenes with RZA. I was left wanting a lot more…and where is the animated short prequel that was made to promote the film?