I’m not sure precisely why, but this movie left me in a deeply melancholy mood. Perhaps it’s the fact that I had to sit next to another critic at the screening who kept rambling on about Hurricane Sandy and how he couldn’t imagine a more important job at the moment than helping with the relief efforts (why are you sitting next to me then, pal?). Or perhaps it was because I was still getting over my Halloween hangover of candy corn, tequila, and way too many fun size Twix and Snickers. I thought perhaps (just perhaps) it was because the film is sorrowful reminder of the once glorious TV and film careers of its stars, Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe. And then it came to me: for all its technical proficiency, The Man with the Iron Fists is a pretty lame movie, especially for one that involves so much booty kicking.
The film from director RZA (who co-wrote the film with Eli Roth) is really good with the punch throwing and ass kicking – it’s not so good with just about everything else. In fact, after a certain point when things become so monotonously action driven, you start to wonder if the entire script didn’t just read “Lucy Liu says something about love and sex, and then a fight ensues.” Because that’s essentially the entire movie, told in 15 sequences that can be encapsulated in those 13 words.
I am supposed to provide a brief description of the plot, but as there is no plot, I cannot do so. In fact, I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. The “premise” of the movie is that a Chinese dynasty is threatened by one of its own turned traitor who is a master fighter. A foreigner (played by Russell Crowe) must rise to the challenge posed by the Empress Madame Blossom (Lucy Liu). If it sounds ultra campy and ridiculous, that’s because it is. This is a so-called “serious” movie that gives a spoofy classic like Army of Darkness a run for its money. Strictly for diehard fans of martial arts movies who don’t mind the complete and utter absence of plot, story, direction, or any other artistic element.