The Man With the Iron Fists is a silly, hip-hop infused Kung-Fu action film with a poorly written script and an even poorer, generic plot.
RZA plays a blacksmith caught in the middle of warring clans in 19th century China. The clan fighting begins after it is heard that a large shipment of gold will be passing through their village, a shipment that everyone wants a piece of. The blacksmith must join forces with the English cowboy Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) and the warrior Zen Yi (Rick Yune) in order to take down the oppressive Lion Clan, led by Silver and Bronze Lion (Byron Mann and Cung Le), as well as free his one true love Lady Silk (Jamie Chung) from her life in a brothel.
Each of the different protagonists have unique motivations, all leading them to fight the same fight, however none of the characters are interesting enough to care about.
In the lead, RZA is lifeless and looks bored most of the time. Unfortunately he misses the mark in portraying the brooding and deep hero character of the film. The supporting cast performances however are worth noting. Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu both bring their higher level of acting experience to the film and it shows compared to the rest of the cast, but even they can not make salvage of the weak dialogue in the script. Special mention must also be made of former professional wrestler David Bautista’s performance. He plays the brute wrecking machine Brass Body and surprisingly, pulls out an excellent performance.
Most people will be able to overlook the weak script and poor acting, as the action scenes are highly entertaining, but not groundbreaking. The violence and gore in this film is played up and over the top. For instance, the blood splatter in the fight scenes appears to have been ripped straight out of a Mortal Kombat video game. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as it adds to the overall visual style of the film and its fantasy elements.
Overall, The Man With the Iron Fists is a typical, mindless-action popcorn flick, best reserved for a guilty-pleasure night of viewing at home.
The first cut of the film was four hours long. RZA suggested splitting it into two films, but producer Eli Roth disagreed, and it was ultimately cut down to approximately 90 minutes.