Can we talk about this? I mean, what happened? This was awful. Just awful.
I think we have to actually treat The Man with the Iron Fists seriously, because its director-star RZA clearly has treated it seriously, but TMwtIF is basically a kind of community theatre version of a movie. A film made by someone who doesn't make films. RZA has all of the elements right: a set of actors – Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune – good producers (Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino), beautiful costumes, expensive sets, but then the execution is laughably bad.
My friend and I sat watching the film and would just groan at the plot points and character names and, well, everything. Just as an example, there are a set of "clans" that are all named after animals. The Lion clan and the Wolf clan and the Hyena clan and the Rodent clan. And the Lion clan, whom we follow more extensively than the others, have three leaders: Gold Lion, Silver Lion, and Bronze Lion. There is also a pair of assassins called the Gemini twins (a ludicrous redundancy if ever I've heard one – and they weren't even twins).
The plot revolves around a shipment of gold that the "governor" was sending to his "armies in the North". As the gold passes through the small hamlet "Jungle Village", it is stolen from the Geminis, who have been hired to protect it, by the new head of the Lion clan (Silver Lion had Gold Lion murdered). But then Madame Blossom (who is actually a madam) attempts to steal the gold through subterfuge or some such business. She is thwarted, however, by Gold Lion's son (who doesn't have a Lion name), by RZA (who is a blacksmith), and by Russell Crowe (who plays this Jack Knife character who cuts people in half and is generally hilarious).
I'm just going to say this and move on. People don't ship gold to armies in the North. Armies don't actually need gold. There's nowhere for them to spend it.
Okay. I will be done talking about this in a second, but the level of how bad The Man with the Iron Fists is is quite extraordinary. Some positives: It's always good to see Rick Yune in things. Lucy Liu's costumes (designed by Thomas Chong) are absolutely gorgeous. And Russell Crowe is having the most fun of his career chewing scenery, slicing people in half, and having sex with four women at a time in a brothel. There is this fantastic sequence where he licks Lucy Liu's face: RZA directs it in the most irritatingly cartoonish way possible, but Crowe's performance remains delightful and hilarious.