The Man with the Iron Fists

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Man with the Iron Fists Movie Poster Image
Violent but blah martial arts tribute from rapper RZA.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Most of the movie is about revenge: A good son is on the trail of a bad soldier who killed his father. A man who has been hiding from his violent past finds himself redeemed ... by more violence. No one learns much of anything.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aside from the skilled martial artists in the cast, who might inspire teen viewers to look into classes, most of the characters here behave poorly, and no one changes or grows over the course of the movie.


Over-the-top martial arts violence, with much slicing and dicing and huge geysers of blood spurting from necks and limbs. In one intense scene, a man's wounds are cauterized with red-hot metal. A man attacks and kills a woman in one scene. Several severed heads, two severed arms, and a flying eyeball. A man is slashed down the length of his chest. Several characters are killed by poison darts. A character is briefly tortured. Several minor/supporting characters die.


Although the movie -- which takes place largely in a brothel -- doesn't have any nudity, there are several strong suggestions of sexual activity. One of the main characters has three to four prostitutes in his room at various times, with the suggestion that he's slept with them all. In one scene, he appears to have been orally pleasuring a woman in the bathtub, with his head underwater. He briefly caresses a woman's privates under her negligee. Viewers also see several minor characters having sex with various prostitutes (all clothed or covered up). Also other, minor examples of sexual suggestion and/or innuendo.


Language is sporadic but features three or four uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as a half-dozen uses of the "N" word. Other words include "ass," "hell," and "bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the main characters constantly sips from a flask and is seen drunk on at least one occasion. He also enjoys opium and gives booze to another character for a painkiller. Various other characters are seen smoking and/or drinking in a brothel.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydavyborn December 14, 2012

A messy, bloody, poorly constructed movie, directed by a rapper. Yay.

For the past seven years, rapper RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, and fellow Tarentino affiliate Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) had been working together on a script fo... Continue reading
Adult Written bymicahdoulos August 18, 2018

Disgusting Sexual Content

Be aware that this movie contains EXTREMELY suggestive sexual content. I was a fan of Russell Crowe until this film came out, and now I'm disappointed in h... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byyinyumi December 31, 2012

Kind of graphic for me, but I did like it.

It is a really good movie. But sadly it has many violence & sex in it so I could watch some of the parts because I was with my parents, & the bl... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

  • In theaters: November 2, 2012
  • On DVD or streaming: February 12, 2013
  • Cast: Lucy Liu, Russell Crowe, RZA
  • Director: RZA
  • Studio: Universal Pictures
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: bloody violence, strong sexuality, language and brief drug use
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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