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Universal Forges Deal For Rza's Kung Fu Extravaganza, 'The Man With Iron Fists'

By MIKE FLEMING | Friday May 7, 2010 @ 2:52pm EDT

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EXCLUSIVE: Universal is making a deal to finance and distribute The Man With The Iron Fists, a stylized martial arts film that will mark the feature directorial debut of RZA, the Wu-Tang Clan co-founder who has written the screenplay with Eli Roth. RZA will play the title character, a blacksmith who forges weapons for the inhabitants of a village in feudal China. They are forced to defend themselves, and before you know it, everybody is kung fu fighting.


Roth will produce with Strike Entertainment's Marc Abraham and Eric Newman. RZA will also produce the soundtrack. The film shoots in September in Hong Kong at a budget under $20 million.


Roth, the Hostel helmer who made an acting splash playing the Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, doesn't know if he will bring his baseball bat and play a part in this film, but said that Iron Fists was forged under the creative godfathering of Tarantino and has the stylized period vibe present in Kill Bill.


"It started with a trip RZA and I took with Quentin to Iceland in 2005," Roth said. "We flew back, ended up snowed in in Boston, staying at my parents' house in Newton. Turned out that my dad and RZA grew up in Brooklyn and went to the same Brownsville junior high school and swam in the same public pool. He hooked me on his dream of directing and reinventing the Kung Fu movie genre. It reminded me of my love of horror. RZA went to the set of Kill Bill, and got a master directing course from Quentin. Nothing was happening with the script, and I formed this company, Arcade, with Eric Newman, that made Last Exorcism, a film that comes out in August through Lionsgate. We were looking for projects and I suggested RZA's script. I wrote the latest draft with him. While I was away shooting Inglourious Basterds, RZA went to China to shoot test footage on his own, with all the choreography. It was very visual and I think he will bring to life a script that mixes kung fu with a spaghetti Western mindset and a hip hop influence.


"RZA has imagined every tribe, every fighting style, every costume," Roth said. "He knows kung fu like I know horror."

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  • 2 years later...



RZA's The Man With The Iron Fists - the rapper turned actor/director's feature film directorial debut, and likely the highest profile project that'll be featured in this series.

It stars RZA himself, Russell Crowe, Pam Grier, Lucy Liu and others; Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth served as producers on this $20 million project.


RZA's been awfully quiet about his feature debut, which wrapped principal photography over a year ago, as far as I know and, per recent interviews with cast members, posted earlier this year, is actually mostly cut, as RZA was said to still be putting the soundtrack together at the time.


He hasn't said much about it, other than the little we already know (synopsis, cast, the basics); we have no definite release date, seen no stills, no clips, not a damn thing.


And yet, we're excited about it. Why?


It's likely an excitement that stems from curiousity... the mystery of it all.


It's really a mystery at this point what this is going to look, sound and feel like, given that we have nothing to go on except RZA's past work on and off screen (which hasn't been much), his music, the cast, the plot, and the notable names shepherding the project.


RZA learned from Tarantino, shadowing him on film sets, with Roth assisting in suring up the script. What could RZA have taken from the other 2 gentlemen and blended into his work, or how much influence they had on RZA's choices, is unknown. But, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dying to find out.

Add to that all the nuggets dropped by cast memners over the last year or so, like Pam Grier:


"I play RZA's mother, in the mid-1800s... My character gives up her freedom to save her son. It basically starts out his journey, to a new land. It was very, very moving. Shooting in China was extraordinary. The people were so warm and so smart... Wait until The Man with the Iron Fist comes out. RZA is a martial artist, and he's a fantastic martial artist in the film. He's excellent."

And from co-producer Eli Roth who described the film as "a kung fu Star Wars movie," adding that Russell Crowe plays is named Jacknife, and that since Crowe isn't asked to carry the film (as the most recognizable actor in it), he was "free just to step in and go completely insane... he just went wild with it... You think he is just a stranger passing through town, but in the opening scene, Crowe makes a very big statement with his knife."

And then there was RZA himself in an interview with HipHopDX, suggesting that the film was essentially an homage to Blaxploitation cinema and Kung-Fu movies, and the the film kind of brings the two together:

I have a centerpiece of Blaxploitation in the film; obviously that was a big 70’s genre. I also have Gordon Liu, the Master Killer himself, who was a centerpiece of the Kung-Fu genre. The funniest part for me though, was that I got a character from Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon. In that movie, Bruce Lee is trying to protect the restaurant, and there’s an old white man trying to take over his business. And I cast him in The Man with the Iron Fists, just for that reason. Jon [Jon T. Benn] is in the movie! We had other choices, but when I found out we could get him, it was like, “Oh no. I want this motherfucker!” He’s one of the first villains that I had ever seen watching Bruce Lee movies. He came in wanting to buy the restaurant, and he was just really discriminating. And in my film he plays a character that’s similar…it’s someone with power. So we’ve got them as well as more modern actors in sort of a mashup. I’ve always been a fan of different genres, and even my production was a sort of mashup before people were even calling them that. Now in film, I’m striving to do the same thing. You get a wide range of characters, and attempt to blend them and make something new and unique.


So there's a Blaxploitation centerpiece in the film, he got Jon T. Benn to do the movie to play a baddie with power, and we'll be treated to (hopefully) something fresh, given the mashup of different types of characters, filmmaking styles and maybe even genres. Sounds like a Tarantino movie, so maybe that's where the Tarantino influence manifests.


We'll see.


As for a release date, I suspect it's a film that will be out sometime in 2012. I recall THIS Huffington Post piece on RZA's appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson last fall, during which RZA talked about the film, and there was mention of a release date of October 2012. No specific day, just October 2012.


No verification from Universal Pictures, the studio handling the film, and nothing listed on IMDB yet either.


And if that does indeed turn out to be the date, it means we don't have long to wait for it, and will hopefully see some media soon.


Maybe we can consider the fact that it's taken so long to finally see anything of the project as a good sign, suggesting that RZa is taking his time with it, and is trying to produce the best film possible.

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  • 1 month later...

<object id="vid_4fcc9dd321086e9bb0923fb864acd252" class="ign-videoplayer" width="468" height="293" data="http://oystatic.ignimgs.com/src/core/swf/IGNPlayer.swf"'>http://oystatic.ignimgs.com/src/core/swf/IGNPlayer.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="movie" value="http://oystatic.ignimgs.com/src/core/swf/IGNPlayer.swf" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="bgcolor" value="#000000" /><param name="flashvars" value="url=http://www.ign.com/videos/2012/06/28/the-man-with-the-iron-fists-red-band-trailer-debut"/></object>


this looks ridiculous

ly awesome!


Edited by axel_napalm
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goddamn, i might need that shit framed.


i'll admit, i have one worry going into this, besides roth: Tarentino and especially RZA are huge, huge fans of the classic Shaw brothers kung-fu flicks, and ive no doubt there's homage here like any good wu track. but those were a bit more like westerns, or kurosawa samurai flicks, in a way: morality tales (or sometimes, villains bonding/brotherhood stories) over stylish fights but very minimal with effects, as a deliberate choice beyond simply the budget. seeing over-the-top action is one thing, the CG blood and such has me thinking i should go in expecting the latter kind of kung-fu flick: just go for the ride with the mindless action. i'm hoping there's a bit of the former here as well though, we'll see.


day 1, prolly gonna be a small release so im hoping for a showing on the beach.

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Wait, were does it say straight-to-video? This should get some kind of theatrical release. The only way it wouldn't is if NZA's fears are true and it's that bad. I'm expecting just some insane, over-the-top fighting. You can tell from the trailer the dialogue is garbage, and I'm assuming the plot and character development are paper thin as well. At best for this flick I'm hoping for the pacing to be good and the fights to be awesome.

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yeah, this thing's getting a theatrical, not sure where iceman grabbed that from - again though im expecting a limited one.


and that's just the thing, i cant think of a time ive seen & liked CGI blood. seems pretty unnecessary given all the years we've had fake blood nailed down too, but i really don't wanna go in too much on just the trailer - this thing has a bunch of people who know all the right kung-fu flicks attached to it, plus uh, that wrestler guy, so it's gonna be awesome.

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Limited screens. Movies buy a certain amount of movie screens to be shown. Movies like the avengers get a shitload and something like this might get a fraction of that. I mean I know there's more to it, but that's been my underatanding

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Iceman: Limited releases usually go to smaller, arthouse type theaters. I think NZA meant he's hoping this film will get shown at one of these cinemas somewhere on "the beach" in MIA, where I assume such hoity-toity cinemas can thrive.


and that's just the thing, i cant think of a time ive seen & liked CGI blood.


Every episode of The Walking Dead TV show.

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yeah, miami beach is our only real shot for smaller/indie stuff most times, i know a few hondonians go around there when there's a miyazaki release for example.


and fair call, they're serviceable there i guess, im assuming we've reached a point with CG where it's actually cheaper than good effects but when its done poorly it stands out like a sore thumb - i had a hard time with it in stuff like Blade 2.

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alright, shut my mouth: those 2 were both awesome flicks, as long as you forget that BR2 happened. and yeah, Beat makes everything fantastic.


i still don't prefer it, but i don't recall it taking from either of those movies.

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CG blood sux. Period. Unless the movie is comically bloody; so then again... It mite work here lol.


Ok so isn't there a chance this flick will go to a bigger venue depending on its success? It's just so hard to believe THIS movie won't go commercial.. Just look at the amazing fookin poster! ><


I wouldn't Put it past it but if a Tarantino double feature can go mainstream so can this..



Let alone Mechete


Edited by IceManML
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  • 1 month later...

redband trailer!


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