Even with the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" imprint, this new martial arts action is excitable, campy cinema that harkens back to the days of grind house.
The Man With The Iron Fists stars Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and is directed by one of its stars RZA, occasional actor and hip-hop artist. Eli Roth of Hostel fame serves as a co-writer for what has a self-prophetic element about it.
It plays like an accomplished music video with much attention to choreography and slow-motion even if the editing process leaves the combatants in a state of entropy with the accompanying arterial spray.
RZA's mysterious blacksmith is amid brutal rivalries in feudal China's Jungle Village as everything isn't mellifluous or anachronistic at least when it comes to tips, dialogue and sunglasses.
As the factions simmer in their search for their pot of gold there is Crowe's testy envoy in Jack Knife who supports the local brothel for Liu's managing Madame Blossom.
One doesn't really come into this kind of rhythmic prophetic tale looking for stellar acting and storytelling, as the tyro helmer goes kick-ass over-the-top that allows for Crowe and Liu (looking elegant at times as in Kill Bill Vol. 1) to adequately chew up the scenery.
There is a nasty heavy in one Brass Body (MMA's Dave Bautista) whose shoulders can morph into a metallic sheet. RZA has some alchemy aplomb with brass knuckles but probably knows his actorly reach carries little oomph at this point.
Some of this heavily cut chop-socky obviously really wooed Tarantino (though not among its producing partners) and will connect with fans of this type of modish production including the pulsating end credits. As the rapport between Liu and Crowe indicates, the tantalizing innuendo is there, but not the kind of levity and tension this slangy, visceral kung-fu foray that could have made something more iron-willed than ham-fisted. Something with a little more wit and irony would be a nice complement to Machete (remembered from those snappy old-styled trailers in the Tarantino/Rodriquez Grindhouse).