In a place called Jungle Village, numerous factions are at war with one another for control, with a lone Blacksmith (RZA) making weapons for them all. When Imperial gold is set to travel through the village, the normal violence reaches new levels, various powerful figures including good and evil brothers, a devious madam (Lucy Liu), and a mysterious Englishman (Russell Crowe) with a pistol/knife/drill combo in his holster arrive in Jungle Village. Will the Blacksmith stay neutral as the lives of his fellow villagers are put on the line?The RZA's first directorial film that tribute to the 70's martial arts films that inspired his old hip-hop conglomerate Wu-Tang Clan and co-written with Eli Roth, released in Fall of 2012.
Archer Archetype: The mysterious Poison Dagger, rarely seen until the end when cornered and strikes at critical junctions usually crippling enemies right as they start to come back. Though his weapon is essentially a high powered blow gun rather than a traditional bow and arrow so he borders on being a Cold Sniper.
Artistic License - Chemistry: Mercury is apparently dark green. It will also turn your veins black and kill you in about five seconds when injected into your bloodstream via blowdart. It's possible, however, that the version Poison Dagger uses is a modified mercury-based compound of some kind.
Asshole Victim: The racist hick the Blacksmith accidentally killed. Also, Crazy Hippo.
Automatic Crossbows: The Geminis' troops carry these. After they hijack the gold, the Lions use the ones they've captured in the process.
Awesome, Dear Boy: Russell Crowe certainly isn't slumming it in this film. Indeed, most of the cast look to be having the time of their lives. The meager (by Hollywood standards, anyway) $15 million budget indicates this to be the case, on top of Doing It for the Art.
Back-to-Back Badasses: The Geminis, naturally. The "Gemini Stance" consists of their doing this while Gemini Female is locked in position inverted on Gemini Male's back.
Chekhov's Gun: The shield on the back of Zhen Yi's second suit of knives prevents him from getting his spine shattered by a booby trap, leaving him enough strength to kill Silver Lion.
Chrome Champion: Brass Body is relatively rare example that is not a silvery color.
Counterpart Combat Coordination: In the final battles, The Blacksmith faces Brass Body, iron fists vs ...brass body. Jack Knife faces Poison Dagger, an old acquaintance of his, and they talk about how they are Not So Different. Zhen Yi (the X-Blade) fights against his sworn brother, Silver Lion.
Establishing Character Moment: Subverted in the cases of Jack Knife and Brass Body. The former enters the film as a hedonistic foreigner who delivers a vicious death using his gun/knife/saw...thing, and ends up being one of the more upstanding and heroic characters in the movie. The latter enters while entertaining local children with his strength and being all smiles...only to be revealed as a monstrous assassin and borderline rapist with little regard for anyone else in his way.
Executive Meddling: The film's original cut was nearly four hours long. The RZA suggested splitting it into two films to be released back to back, but the Studio opted to trim it down to a slick 96 minutes and excise some of the gorier shots. RZA ended up walking out of the editing room in disgust at one point before Eli Roth talked him back into the creative process.
Gatling Good: Subverted. During the last act of the movie, a big fuss is made over the fact that the Emperor's troops are approaching the village with a gatling gun to massacre everyone. Then it's never used.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Brass Body's fighting style, combined with his strength and Nigh-Invulnerability makes him hard to beat. And if he is losing, turns out he DOES have training and he actually is a skilled martial artist.
Grievous Harm with a Body: One third of the Gemini's fighting style consists of using tandem momentum. The other parts are guns on Gemini Female's body and their matching blades, which also help their routine.
Heal It With Fire: Twice done to The Blacksmith's arms, once to cauterize the wound and one to prep it for the installation of the titular Iron Fists.
Heroic Sacrifice: Two of the last loyal members of the Lion clan that were working against Silver Lion, die saving Zhen Yi from Brass Body's attempted assassination.
I Am Not Left-Handed: Brass Body, for most of the film, is set up as a guy who uses strength and Nigh-Invulnerability with minimal fighting skill. Until he reveals that in addition to being all but impervious to damage, he's also a master of the Tiger Style fighting technique.
Implacable Man: Brass Body is this in a big way for most of his scenes. Nothing any fighter in the movie does to him fazes him in the slightest. Until the film's climax, where the Blacksmith ups his game and a wound given to Brass Body by Lady Silk leads to Brass Body's downfall.
No Name Given: Almost none of the characters' real names were revealed. Exceptions are the X-Blade (Zhen Yi), Jack Knife (Jack C. Wales) and the Blacksmith (Thaddeus Smith).
Punny Name: Thaddeus Smith, the black smith, chiefly. Jack Knife, though it isn't his actual last name, and others as well.
Redemption Equals Death: Madame Blossom's last act is to save an orphan girl allowing the mortally wounded Bronze Lion to throw a weapon into her exposed back as she saved the child.
Shout-Out: So very many. An obvious one being the final fight between Zhen Yi and Silver Lion, in a Hall of Mirrors a la Enter the Dragon. In this version, however, it's actually shown how it all works.
Naturally, there are more than a few Wu-Tang Clan references.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted. While many thrown weapons can or should kill, most throwers die before they can retrieve their weapons, including Gemini Male and Madame Blossom. However, they can be perfectly capable of some combat without their weapon. The X-Blade's suit includes several fire and forget blades, but not a single one works against Brass Body.
Yank the Dog's Chain: As soon as the Blacksmith and Lady Silk have earned enough money to buy their way out of Jungle Village and to a better life, they get caught at the center of the ongoing power struggle.