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Film / The Man with the Iron Fists

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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, the son of the Lion Clan Leader called the X-Blade (Rick Yune), 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?

RZA's first directorial film, co-written with Eli Roth, The Man with the Iron Fists was in part a tribute to the 70's martial arts films that inspired his old hip-hop conglomerate Wu-Tang Clan. It was released in Fall of 2012, and a Direct to Video sequel was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 14, 2015.


Not related with Tekkennote , or to Marvel's Iron Fist properties.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Madam Blossom is the Dragon Lady variety.
  • Action Prologue: Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting during the opening credits.
  • Ambiguous Time Period / Anachronism Stew: It appears to be set in China, but where and when is hard to pin down. The presence of Jack Knife (who dresses like a old west gunman) and his dealings with Opium in China, also the Blacksmith's backstory as a slave in Southern American plantations, nominally put this movie somewhere around the 1860s but the technology blends Bamboo Technology with Steampunk and meshes the aesthetic of several time periods (with the Pink Blossom in particular practically looking like a modern-day brothel).
  • Animal Theme Naming: The various clans that control Jungle Village.
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  • 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.
  • The Atoner: The Blacksmith saves X-Blade's life to atone for the fact he made the weapon that killed X-Blade's father.
  • Automatic Crossbows: The Geminis' troops carry these. After they hijack the gold, the Lions use the ones they've captured in the process.
  • 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.
  • Bad Ass Beard: Jack Knife sports one of these instead of an obvious Carpet of Virility.
  • Balls of Steel: Brass body has these...go figure.
  • Band of Brothels: Lucy Liu's charismatic bordello madam keeps ample security (a trained squad of shadowy kunoichi assassins) on hand to deal with unsavory clients.
  • Band of Brothers: Thaddeus, Jack, and Zen Yi at the end.
  • Battle Couple: The Gemini Killers.
  • Big Bad: Silver Lion, The Usurper of the Lion Clan trying to steal the gold. However, Poison Dagger is arguably the Man Behind the Man and the true Big Bad. He's at least part of a Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • Black-and-White Morality: It's mostly a tale of good vs. evil. However, there are shades of grey
    • Jack Knife saves Thaddeus and the children at the Pink Blossom, but he also provokes a man into a fight early on in the movie, basically for being a Fat Bastard and proceeds to cut said man in half.
      • He even suggests Madam Blossom feed his dead body to the dogs.
    • Though he later feels remorse, Thaddeus is responsible for the construction of the weapon that kills Gold Lion and sets the plot in motion.
      • He knew he was making weapons of murder, but was more interested in buying his girlfriend's freedom. Somewhat justified, given his history and environment.
    • Madam Blossom is not above poisoning all the lions and taking gold that belongs to someone else, but she's also protective of her girls.
      • She also ends up giving her life to save a child.
    • Lady Silk comes off as an innocent victim, but she was complicit in Madam Blossom's plan to poison all the Lions and steal the gold.
  • The Blacksmith: The titular character. His real name is Thaddeus Smith and he specializes in unusual weapons. Including mercury blowguns, for some reason.
  • Blood Knight: Jack Knife.
  • Cameo:
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The same teachings and techniques used to have the human body control inanimate objects is key to allowing Blacksmith to defeat Brass Body due to a poison wound he received to one of his vital points and Blacksmith beginning to target the ones he knows.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: That white haired official in the early narration ordering the shipment of the gold? Turns out that's Poison Dagger.
  • Chop Sockey: As part of the loving homage to 70's kung fu movies, many scenes are intentionally Chop Sockey. The opening fight scene in particular stands out for this reason.
  • 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.
  • Crapsack World: It ain't called Jungle Village for no reason and Thaddeus still seems to prefer it there than where he came from.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • Bronze Lion at the beginning of the movie.
    • Brass Body versus Zen Yi and his buddies.
  • Death by Falling Over: The Asshole Victim Thaddeus accidentally killed in his backstory. While harassing, hitting, and insulting Thaddeus, he eventually fights back, pushing him over. The racist hick hits his head on an anvil and dies.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Gemini Female in Gemini Male's arms while doing their Grievous Harm with a Body routine, Gemini Male shortly after, causing their dying pose to be that of the Gemini sign, and Lady Silk in The Blacksmith's arms.
  • Dragon Lady: Madame Blossom.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Blacksmith
  • Evil Is Hammy: Silver Lion.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Poison Dagger. As he's slowly being dragged into the massive gears, he's not struggling, and laughing.
  • Family-Friendly Stripper: Despite being a brothel, none of the women at the Pink Blossom ever remove their tops on-screen. Even mid-coital, they're still clothed.
  • Fat Bastard: Crazy Hippo.
  • Father to His Men: Inverted as Madam Blossom is a mother to her girls
  • Faux Affably Evil: Silver Lion acts fairly normal around those not in his inner circle, but he is conniving and violent. He doesn't hesitate to agree with Poison Dagger that Madam Blossom should die just after making a deal with her and he enjoys toying with Zen Yi in the Hall of Mirrors.
  • Flashback: While Thaddeus tells Jack how he got to China.
  • Four-Star Badass: Jack Knife.
  • Friend to All Children: Brass Body.
  • 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.
  • Genocide from the Inside: Late in the movie Brass Body reveals that he was a member of yet another animal-themed clan, but he killed off the rest of his clan years ago.
  • The Giant / World's Strongest Man: In-universe, Brass Body (played by former wrestler/MMA fighter Dave Bautista).
  • 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.
  • Gorn: Oh so much cheesy fake blood, in homage to the special effects of the chop sockiest of kung fu movies.
  • 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.
    • Lady Silk, leaving herself open to a fatal attack to save the life of a child.
  • Hero Killer: Poison Dagger, who basically exists to one-shot characters who are otherwise a One-Man Army.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Silver Lion is killed by the gold he worked so hard to steal.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Characters spew blood from any wound.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Pretty much everyone, but special mention goes to Jack Knife's gun/drill/knife.
    • The sequel gives us a man wielding a mantis claw-shaped sword and the man with the iron legs.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: The blacksmith's main enemy (and the only guy he truly has a grudge against) is Brass Body, Silver Lion's dragon.
  • Ki Manipulation: See Supernatural Martial Arts below.
  • Kill the Cutie: Zen-Yi's assistant, Chan. The poor kid is clearly in over his head from the start, and has his throat ripped out by Silver Lion just to goad Zen-Yi.
  • Kiss of Death: The brothel workers keep special blades in their mouths and later use them to stab the necks of their victims.
  • Knife Nut: A heroic example in Zhen Yi, they don't call him X-Blade for nothing.
  • Large Ham: Jack Knife is this in almost every single scene.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Discussed by the Blacksmith. he pointed out he is suffering due to straying from the path, and eventually he loses his love, Lady Silk, and his arms.
    • The villains die in a karmic way. Brass Body brags about "drilling" Lady Silk, and gets drilled in return. Silver Lion wanted gold, and he gets it—all two tons right on his head.
  • Last of His Kind: Brass Body of the lost Tiger Clan. He killed them all himself.
  • Limit Break: Done by the Blacksmith to Brass Body during the final battle.
  • Mama Bear: Madam Blossom tells Jack Knife that if he hurts her girls she will hurt his boys. She also dies saving a small child.
  • Martial Arts Movie: If you've made it this far then it goes without saying.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted all three main male protagonists survive while every major female character dies.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Played with. Thaddeus doesn't seem to have a problem with Lady Silk working in a brothel, but it is also mentioned that Thaddeus is the only customer she has.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Not a single female nipple shown, rather surprisingly, considering half the film takes place at a brothel, and several gratuitous sex acts are depicted on screen.
  • Nom de Guerre: The entire cast seems to go by these, save a few exceptions, see No Name Given.
  • 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).
  • Protagonist Title
  • Punny Name: Thaddeus Smith, The Blacksmith, chiefly. Jack Knife, though it isn't his actual last name, and others as well.
  • Rated M for Manly: Oh yeah!
  • Reality Ensues: Minor version — as incredible as the martial artists are, they are (except for one memorable example) not Immune to Bullets. As a result, the moment when the heroes find out that the Emperor has sent his top soldiers to Clean Up the Town and they are armed with guns is the moment when the plot escalates into a Race Against the Clock.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Cool: Everywhere...
    • Thaddeus's iron fists.
    • Jack Knife's knife thingy.
    • Silver Lion's sunglasses.
    • Gemini's martial arts.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Schizo Tech: The technology is all over the place. Within the ''same scene', there's a character using a pistol versus a character using a crossbow, and Jack Knife's weapon of choice (a steampunk knife-drill-gun hybrid) is a category all of its own.
  • Sequel Hook: No sooner is the movie over than the wife of Zhen Yi is kidnapped by the Hawk clan.
    • The sequel turns out to have nothing to do with the hook, with only Thaddeus and the Geminis returning. That doesn't mean the ending was Canon Discontinuity; it's shown that people are learning of Thaddeus's reputation, probably from word of adventures spreading.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: All the ladies of the Pink Blossom.
  • Sole Survivor: The Blacksmith is the only survivor of a shipwreck in his backstory.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Inverted with X-Blade's suit of spikes/knives, as he's one of the film's most heroic characters.
  • Storming the Castle: Well, actually the Pink Blossom.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: A blacksmith studies with Shaolin monks and learns to use his qi to control inanimate objects. Also, a man with a brass body capable of repelling blades.
  • Supporting Protagonist: The Blacksmith.
    • He plays much the same role in the sequel, as well. A significant portion of the story has even less to do with him than the first one.
  • 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.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Subverted. Brass body has a body that turns into metal and massive brute strength that allows him to tank any opponent without effort. However, once the Blacksmith proves he's able to hurt him despite his defense Brass Body proves he's quite capable of fighting with skill instead of just strength.
  • Vanity Project: For RZA. A Chop Sockey kung fu movie starring himself as the titular character? Author Appeal and Vanity Project rolled into one.
  • Waif-Fu: Madam Blossom takes out Bronze Lion, though she is killed in the process.
  • Warrior Monk: The men who trained The Blacksmith
  • Wilhelm Scream: When The Blacksmith sends mooks flying.
  • Wire Fu: is in several scenes.
  • World of Badass
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Brass Body kills a guy with a powerbomb. Batista actually used a variant as his finishing move during his wrestling career.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Brass Body and Bronze Lion
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Brass Body.
  • Wuxia: The movie definitely contains elements, but the more B-Movie variety.
  • 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.
  • You Killed My Father: Zhen Yi to Silver Lion.


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