Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ironing out the kinks

I'm going through a movie review phase, so bear with me ...

I recently saw a film called The Man With the Iron Fists and it's a love letter to the classic kung-fu films that littered the 70-80's, with notable contributors being Jet Li and Jackie Chan (to name but a few). Later on a hip hop/rap group was inspired by this movie gold so much so that they created a new sound by sampling the effects and music of the films into 'tight loops' that were 'tha bomb' of the late eighties/early nineties. That group was called the Wu-Tang Clan, headed up by the masterful productionist, The Rza.

Why am I telling you this? Well, this film is written, directed and starring Mr Rza ... and he also did the score. I think if you attempt to review this film by western standards, you will think this is complete dreck. By 'ode to kung-fu' standards, it's good but it still weak where it counts. This is also 'presented by Tarantino.' because I don't know of any other director as much in love with classic films as he is. I think he contributed with the gore and maybe some of the dialogue (and one overhead shot straight out of Kill Bill: Volume 1).

Now, my favourite Kung-Fu film is called Snake in the Eagle's Shadow. I recommend the US dub because it is so terribly brilliant. The story is weak but the action is brilliant. The dub is stupendous in the cheesiest bad dub kind of way. Watch it! Now, before you think that my mind is prattling, if you read between the lines you will understand why the Rza's film is intentionally terrible. It's because the original films were quite awful ... but brilliant to watch. Cheesy antics, average acting and corny dialogue ... but BRILLIANT action / choreography. That's Kung-Fu film in its essence.

Having said that, I would have liked the Rza to stay behind the camera but I can understand his desire to be part of Kung-Fu lore even if the end result is pretty darn weak. The choreography is fine but slow by 'mainland China' standards. There are also a few too many character arcs and the film takes itself a little too seriously (although the main baddie's hair is hilarious) for it to get a passing grade by attempting to play the kung-fu/silly card. Too much focus on gore and too little on the choreography is where the film lets itself down.

I applaud The Rza for making the film ... it's just a shame that he missed the point of Kung-Fu.