A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Man with the Iron Fists is a martial arts action film from rapper RZA, of the Wu-Tang Clan, a lifetime fan of this genre who makes his directorial debut here. Violence is strong, albeit with a somewhat cartoonish feel, with several scenes of fighting, spurting blood, slicing and dicing, severed limbs and heads, and other intense moments. The action takes place largely in a brothel, and although sexual suggestion is fairly strong, there's no actual nudity. In one scene, a main character appears to have been giving oral sex to a woman in a bathtub (he emerges from under the water). Language includes a handful of uses of "f--k," "s--t," and the "N" word. Several characters drink and smoke, and opium is used by one major character. Fans of Quentin Tarantino -- who's a "presenter" -- are likely to be eager to see it.
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What's the story?
In THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, renegade soldier Silver Lion (Byron Mann) betrays and kills a clan chief in the hopes of nabbing a legendary hoard of gold. Unfortunately, the chief's son, Zen Yi (Rick Yune), a master with blades, is out for revenge. They both end up in Jungle Village, where a fancy brothel -- run by Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu) -- seems to be the main source of civilization. There, viewers also meet the polite, insatiable, and deadly Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) and the mysterious Blacksmith (RZA), who's hiding from some kind of violent past and hopes to buy out the contract of a particular prostitute (Jamie Chung). Everything comes to a head when these folks and others meet for a final, bloody showdown, with the gold at stake.
Is it any good?
Much of this lifeless movie simply feels like it's been done many times before. Working on the music scores for Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill - Vol. 2 apparently whetted rapper RZA's appetite for filmmaking -- as did a childhood spent watching Shaw Brothers martial arts movies. Unfortunately, the result demonstrates why not all fans can be filmmakers.
The fight choreography, by Corey Yuen, is terrific, but the shaky, uncertain cinematography and choppy editing strip all the beauty and excitement from it. The non-fighting scenes are even worse, thanks to stale dialogue by co-written by Eli Roth (of the Hostel films) and to flat performances (including by RZA himself). Only veterans Crowe and Liu really seem to savor their roles and get behind the spirit of fun that should have pervaded The Man with the Iron Fists; their scenes together have a slight sizzle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Man with the Iron Fists' violence. How does its over-the-top style affect its impact? What were the consequences of the violence?
Why do you think the Jack Knife character drinks so much? Are the consequences realistic?
Which of these characters appeared to be trained martial artists? Were any of them role models?
Director RZA is a lifelong fan of martial arts movies who finally made one of his own. What kinds of movies would you make if you had the chance? How would you use your knowledge as a fan to make them?
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.