The Man With The Iron Fists opens!
“He (Russell) had to make a decision to take a chance with me,” RZA recalled. “He said, ‘I’m not into this kung fu .... I said, ‘I’m not doing that for you! I’m not gonna have you here doing no crazy kung fu ... for this film.’ But I was like, ‘I need the talent of a real actor. And trust me -- you could have fun.’ N’ah mean? That’s what I wanted more than anything.”
Crowe brings a gleeful, almost vaudevillian menace to his character Jack Knife, a kind of English cowboy commando, who arrives in “Iron Fists’” mythical 19th century Chinese realm with the onset of war between rival barbarian clans. A character with a mysterious agenda, he wields a fanciful machete-cum-pistol and sets himself up at the local brothel, enlisting a small phalanx of ladies of the evening to pleasure him.
“Russell can actually be very silly,” “Fists” producer and co-writer Eli Roth said. “He’s kind of a goofball. He loves to joke around. That’s what RZA was able to get out of him.” (LA Times)
How was it working with Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu on their characters? They both told me that you were very open to their input and collaborating….
RZA: Well, I go both ways. Sometimes I’m a total dictator, then sometimes I’m a democrat and I deal in democracy. When you’ve got great talent like Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, you know that they have an instinct and a taste of their own. So you’ve got to be open to hear what they have to offer, because they have to be their character. The fortunate thing for me, that I think helps keeps me open to their ideas is that I’m an actor as well. I’ve been in situations where the lines were mine. I have to edit the way the guy talks because the writer….when you’re typing a character, you’re just typing them. But the rhythm of speaking and the gesture of movement and the life that it takes when you become a character, that’s totally different. Sometimes it may say, “And I’m warning you, when I come back in here, I’m gonna break your face!” And that may be the lines, but the best way to say it in the moment may be completely different. I may just point and give a real stern look (laughs). So when people would come with ideas, me and Eli Roth would talk about it and would decide together what would work. And bong bong, we compromised and collaborated when we had to. (Flicks and Bits)
- Jack Knife: Whoever decided to let Russell Crowe play this character is a genius. This is easily one of the better roles that the Oscar-winner has done in the past few years – the next best is State of Play, but this role is a little bit sillier. Crowe knows what he’s in for, and he hams it up onscreen in the best way possible. He’s also got a couple of great moments which includes how he spends his time at the Chinese brothel (where most of the movie takes place).
- Round One, Fight!: We must admit that RZA and company was definitely doing their homework when taking out bits and pieces out of our favorite martial arts movies. They’ve got the over-the-top theatrics of these martial films down, and it’s littered with plenty of blood and absurdly wonderful deaths. The homage to the ever-famous Enter the Dragon mirror fight scene is the best shot scenes of the movie. (ScreenCrave)
Review: ‘The Man With The Iron Fists’ Delivers With Impressively Directed Fight Scenes (and Much Swagger)
Performance-wise, the real standout here is Russell Crowe as Jack Knife. Hamming it up throughout, Crowe chews the hell out of the scenery as a robust man who bangs four prostitutes at a time, slices men named Crazy Hippo in half with his giant knife, and adds more butter to his dinners than Paula Deen would. Usually playing more slow-burn roles, Crowe really brings it in here in this departure of a role and makes you wish that he was in every scene. (Film School Rejects)
The performances range from serviceable to yawn-worthy, but there is one that stands out not only for its oddity, but also for the sheer joy it brings. Russell Crowe's portrayal of Jack Knife is a bizarre and glorious thing. Jack is a bloodthirsty, lecherous cad who's quick with a knife and quicker with his other gun, and Crowe throws himself into it with great abandon. He actually says "Let me put the baby's arm in you" to Lucy Liu's character at one point in the film, one of the bawdiest and best lines of the year. Crowe lurches and leers around the screen, and he's always the most interesting thing when he's in a scene. (IGN)