The Man With The Iron Fists

November 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

When the opening credits start with Wu-Tang Clan singing, “shame on a nigga who tries to run a game on a nigga,” you know this isn’t going to be “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”  Whether that is good or bad depends on you.  This rather brilliant film flies in the face of all sorts of Hollywood conventions in a way that I suspect will leave most audience members groaning.  Rap-artist RZA, of the aforementioned clan, has had a budding career in Hollywood for years but this is the first time he has stepped front and center and he has done it with a film that he also wrote and directed.  His love affair with all things Tarantino (who exec produced the film) is evident in every camera trick and blood splatter, which is not to say that this isn’t a beautiful film, it is as gorgeously gory as Quinton’s best.  Where it varies from Tarantino is in every other way.  It lacks the snappy dialogue and graceful choreography that are his hallmarks.  However, this may be intentional because RZA is up to more here than just hero-worship.  Or, rather, I should say that Melvin Van Peeples is as much an influence on this film as Tarantino.  RZA’s brilliant realization (or, at least, if other’s realized it first, I was unaware) is that the 1970s genres of Blaxploitation and the Kung-Fu flick are really getting at the same thing: exploring and inverting the way White culture looks at/exoticizes others.  As such, he has set out to make a Blaxploitation Kung-Fu flick and I loved every bit of it: the heavy handed dialogue, strange humor, flat acting and anti-hero ethos.  RZA’s laconic acting style is perfect for this format and plays well juxtaposed against the absurdly dramatic acting of the Asian actors (each their own nod to their respect 70s films).  Pam Grier even makes a brief appearance to drive the inside joke home.  No wonder Tarantino loves this film, it is entirely referential.  As I said at the beginning, this is not a movie for everyone, maybe not for very many people but if you can appreciate the deeper politics of 1970s “bad” film making, you will love this.

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