The trailer for the new martial arts film, The Man With The Iron Fists was released recently. The film is directed by RZA, founding member of The Wu-Tang Clan, making his directorial debut. RZA seems to have applied his rap collective’s mantra “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthing to F**k with” to his first filmmaking venture. Blood swirls, bones crunch and eyes literally pop in an eccentrically choreographed ballet of violence, and this is just the trailer.
Hip hop pioneer, actor, composer, Stringer Bell’s voice inspiration (unfounded) and most importantly (at least in this case), martial arts aficionado, RZA can soon add director to that list, with the impending release of The Man with the Iron Fists. A martial arts film set in feudal China, The Man with the Iron Fists stars RZA in the title role as a weapon-making blacksmith forced to come to the aid of his fellow villagers. Joining him are an assortment of co-stars, Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu, Byron Mann, Rick Yune, David Bautista, and Jamie Chung.
Although a UK release date is unconfirmed (USA release “this fall”), it boasts a profile-raising but otherwise seemingly of little relevance “Quentin Tarantino presents” endorsement. The Man with the Iron Fists’ arrival to these and other non-American shores is surely a matter of time. In no particular order, here are just five reasons to get excited, and no, Eli Roth’s involvement (producer and co-writer) isn’t one of them.
The Wu-Tang Clan’s legacy is steeped in martial arts references, the key proponent of this being RZA. For RZA, of whom co-writer Eli Roth said “(he’s) an encyclopaedia of martial arts films” this is a passion project, his first feature as a director, a film he has been writing for years (RZA is credited with the story and co-writer of the screenplay, Roth was brought in to help ‘polish’) and will also star in. In an AV Club interview RZA suggested he was keen to do something “new” and “different” in the martial arts genre, yet being such a fan will have the utmost respect for it.
RZA could certainly have had worse mentors, counting Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch amongst his friends and collaborators. Somewhat refreshingly for a new filmmaker, RZA said to FFWD,
“I want to start off making movies where people know they’re in a movie”
Something that hasn’t served his friend Quentin too badly over the years. Taking on directing duties as well as his first major lead role might seem ambitious, but this is RZA’s film. Judging by the trailer, Iron Fists isn’t so much a genre mash-up or parody, but a modern, highly stylised, love letter to martial arts movies, somewhere between Tarantino’s Kill Bill and The Shaw Brother’s movies. With a modest budget of around $20 million and a few friends in high places, there would likely have been little pressure from the studio; hopefully meaning RZA has made the movie he wanted to make.
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