Friday Fisticuffs: The Man With The Iron Fists (2012)

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I love The Man With The Iron Fists on two related levels. First and foremost, this is a capital A awesome movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and revels in the grime and grit of old school Hong Kong action movies but upgrades everything from the fight scenes and weapons to the quality of the actors and shooting. The second level that I dig about this movie is that it’s clearly RZA (who directed, co-wrote with Cabin Fever and Hostel’s Eli Roth and also starred in) making one of his dreams come true.  I don’t know much about him, but I do know that the Wu-Tang member loved these kinds of movies as a kid and eventually proved to people with money that he could do one himself. I think anyone who has a creative streak in them or a longtime fandom for a particular genre can relate to that idea.

For what it’s worth, I watched this movie on Blu-ray which looked awesome and went with the extended cut. I’m not sure what made it different from the theatrical one, but figured I should put that out there.

The story itself revolves around a town called Jungle Village that’s got all kinds of misfits and killers hanging around. RZA is the blacksmith in town and helps build some wild weapons for all the different animal-themed factions. There’s a lot of gold coming into town, plenty of betrayal and backstabbing and a war is brewing between the different groups. Meanwhile, Russell Crowe’s Jack Knife has rolled into town and seems to be a good guy. He teams up with RZA as well as Rick Yune’s Zen Yi who sports a knife suit.

I should note that most of the story details of this film are pretty rote. Raise your hand when you read something unique. RZA is in love with a prostitute who says she wants to run away with him. He believes her and sacrifices his moral integrity by making weapons for terrible people to further his own agenda. That doesn’t go so well, he gets attacked and winds up developing iron hands for himself that he can control thanks to his chi. That last part probably raised some hands which exemplifies an interesting aspect of the film, as cool as it looks and as rad as the fight scenes come off, the most unique aspects of this film revolve around the weapons. Just about everyone wields (or is) a weapon that I haven’t really seen on screen before (or at least not done in such a way) that they make already engrossing fights all the more interesting. I was working on something while watching this movie and found myself transfixed every time a fight scene kicked off.

And that’s what this movie’s all about at it’s core: cool fight scenes with rad weapons. If you’re looking for something with a little more depth, this isn’t your movie, but if you want to see Russell Crowe shoot a guy in the head with a knife gun or two fighters use ice skater-like moves to kill dudes, give The Man With The Iron Fists a watch.

Quick Movie Review: Funny People (2009)

I mentioned a week or two back how I had recently enjoyed several Judd Apatow-related DVD commentaries and how I was looking forward to seeing Funny People. We’ve been sitting on the DVD since before Thanksgiving, but didn’t get to it until this weekend. It was definitely worth the wait.

I can’t think of a movie I’ve enjoyed more than Funny People in a while. I went into it knowing about the basic plot details: Adam Sandler plays a big-time comedian who finds out he has a kind of cancer, takes fellow stand-up comedian Seth Rogen under his wing and starts hitting the club circuit again. Sandler tries to make amends with some people, including Leslie Mann, who is the one who got away. He eventually finds out that the experimental treatment he’s been taking has worked and he’s got a second lease on life which sends him out after Mann who is married to Eric Bana and has two kids (Mann’s own kids with Apatow).

I’m a big fan of 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and most of the movies Apatow produced, so it’s probably not a huge shock how much I liked this movie. What I liked most about Funny People wasn’t just the comedic aspect of it (which were hilarious), but also the dramatic side. I’d seen Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love and didn’t like the movie, but I’ve always figured he could do something more dramatic and this movie proves it. In fact, everyone in the movie is hilarious. Aside from the main three, you’ve also got Jonah Hill, Jason Schwarzman, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, RZA, Bana and the Apatow children all tossing out great lines left and right. Sure, it’s long at 146 minutes, but I think it’s worth the time investment.