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Man with the Iron Fists, The


Stars: RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Byron Mann, David Bautista, Jamie Chung, Daniel Wu, Cung Le

Director: RZA

A rapper's version of an exceptionally visceral chop-socky movie - though more redolent of Van Damme than Bruce Lee - this multi million-dollar vanity project, a tribute to RZA's boyhood love of martial arts mayhem, is deliberately outrageous stuff full of hairy, fiercely grinning, merciless warlords out to expand their mini-kingdoms by the bloodiest means possible.

Although the film is set in China's distant past, it blends modern parlance and a rap soundtrack with its ultra-violent action. The director has certainly worked hard in this latter department; blood fountains everywhere, and even the local brothel beauties turn out to be fearsome black widow warriors with gut-cutting weapons hidden in heir mouths.

Quite what (a portly) Russell Crowe is doing in this ludicrous farrago - with much of its dialogue seemingly ripped from a study of cheapie Hollywood 'easterns' of days gone by - is a bit bewildering; but it turns out he's a mate of the director, a rapper who also mumbles the leading role of the blacksmith who forges increasingly fearsome pieces of armoury for clans known as the Lions, Wolves and Hyenas.

'Never turn your back on a Wolf,' exclaims one in a broad American accent. 'Or he'll bite you in the ass.'

Late-night action fiends will certainly enjoy the whirling action - the bad guys include a cowardly Lion, a mighty muscleman whose body turns to brass to deflect knives, and a white-haired poison-dart assassin - if not the script.

And when Crowe addresses a fellow brothel-creeper as 'My stout fellow,' it's distinctly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

All in all, as an ex-colleague of mine was fond of saying, people who like this kind of thing will definitely find that this is the kind of thing they like.

David Quinlan

USA/Hong Kong 2012. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by Colorworks.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 03 Dec 2012