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Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2018
Pretty much says it. Truly. Not even in a kitschy way, like maybe it was intentionally trashy. It just ... is trashy. I've seen a lot of movies, but this is honestly the worst movie I've ever watched. Words simply cannot do it sufficient injustice. Pathetic on every level.
Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2019
I thoroughly enjoy this movie, every time I watch it. This is the first time I've seen the unrated version. I like the characters, and the story. It was full of samurai action with all the fantasy and violence a fan of this genre could want. Lucy Liu and her girls were a real treat, and RZA who directed it and did the music was spot on! Watch till the very end, and it leads up to part 2.
I must preface by saying that I like Kung Fu movies -- and I've seen my share of them. The Man with the Iron Fists has the body of a new style Chinese Martial Arts film like House of the Flying Daggers, the brains of Enter the Dragon, and the soul of Machete -- although it's not nearly as much fun as Robert Rodriquez's similar riff on the Mexican Gangster film. Fists isn't really a Chinese film at all, although plenty of the talent is from the Middle Kingdom, but instead is a re-envisioned fantasy of the Kung Fu genre through the eyes of Wu-Tang mastermind and rapper RZA. He wrote, directed, and starred.
There's a lot to like in this film (as a Kung Fu fan). The characters are pretty memorable in a comic book, kung fu, video game kind of way. They each have their own weapons, powers, and gimmicks. A few of them are even well acted (or over acted) like Russell Crowe's entertaining performance as Jack Knife or Lucy Liu as Black Widow. Many have bad hair.
RZA and his titular character forms the weakest link. He's just flat. His voice over is hard to understand and the rapper voice narrating Kung Fu feels totally out of place. But his music's good. And despite some nearly incoherent editing and minimal storytelling, the overall style is pretty decent.
The villains are pretty darn cheesy, particularly the heavy metal fright wig hair styles of the Lion Clan, but whatever, it's a campy almost spoof of the Kung Fu genre. It's gory as hell too, but despite numerous brothel scenes, strangely chaste (no nudity at all). Hmmm, there's that weird violence is better than sex thing. What gives? A big chunk of backstory on RZA's character shoved into the middle of the film is a total snooze-a-rama, but other than that, the action scenes are exciting and the brothel scenes funny, so if you like the genre, go for it. Just remember, it's just no Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and not even up to the standards of Kung Fu Hustle.
Andy Gavin, author of The Darkening Dream and Untimed
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2013
Someone told me to get it for them and I ended up watching. This movie proves unequivocally why Russell Crowe needs to retire from films. If you like D-rated movies or are a Russell Crowe fan and therefore don't care if it's lousy, it's for you. The action is fast and furious but don't get if you want any substance.
4.0 out of 5 starseven better rappers who are secretly ninjas that have superpowers
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 29, 2016
It is a product of it's influences.
Yeah this movie isn't going to win any awards, but it never set out to do that. This is heavily influenced by the cheap to film and rushed out movies that used to try to cash in on Bruce Lees and Jackie Chans latest movie releases. The characters are a mixture of Hong Kong cinema and beat-em up characters. And as with both these genres the choreography and the moves always come first, with the depth of character coming a distant fourth after production costs and marketing.
In some ways the puns and gimmicks are comical and the ideas surely came from early childhood friends brainstorming, each one trying to outdo the the fantasy of the last. Well, either that or they polled a group of junior school kids asking them what's the coolest thing ever. Samurais, no, wait wrestlers, no no, even better rappers who are secretly ninjas that have superpowers. Aww coooool.
This film is a good modern homage to the violent trashy Kung-Fu films of the 1970's, so if you are a fan of those then this should work for you. The story is ridiculous but is just there to give a variety of charactors a chance to show of their different fighting styles. I enjoyed this immensely, and the RZA is in fact a pretty good lynchpin to proceedings when surrounded by classier actors letting rip in juicy parts (Russel Crowe i'm looking directly at you here). The soundtrack is as good as you would expect with having RZA in charge, as a fan i felt that it complemented things nicely, but there are those who may not like it. If you go in expecting a violent, silly, action packed gorefest then i think you may be nicely surprised by some of the more contemplative moments of the film. If you go into it expecting a masterpiece then you have picked the wrong Blu-ray my friend.
Everything is bad on this movie. The director (RZA) is a cockish idiot (and also being one of the main actors even makes it worse), dismal plot, dismal story, bad acting, bad fight scenes, bad dialog, nothing saves this from being an awful movie. There's zillion of better movies than this one in the same genre. Quentin Tarantino should have been stoned or drunk when he endorsed this turd, it's the only possible explanation.