Premise: Jungle Village is an outpost for criminals, prostitutes, and dueling clans. Through some backstabbery, a treasure chest full of gold comes into play, and every lowlife (some with mystical powers!) collect in this one place to try to get it. The most important aspect of the premise, though, is that this is a kung-fu movie starring Russell Crowe that was written and directed by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.
-The movie certainly means well. You can tell that RZA really wanted to make it, so it never felt like some crappy movie that a director was forced to make by a studio even though he didn’t really want to.
-The narration by RZA is often times hilarious. Sometimes the movie was extremely self-aware of its humor, and other times it tries to be uncomfortably serious. If I had to lean a certain way to make this movie, I would have made it 99% hilarious. Hey, when does Black Dynamite 2 come out?
-Some of the violence was pretty cool. Gemini twins attack!
-Russell Crowe drunkenly licks Lucy Liu’s face. I know what you’re thinking… But once you actually see it happen you’ll agree it belongs in the “Pros” list.
-Almost everyone does a satisfactory job acting in the movie, but it’s not as if they’re asked to do a lot.
-The characters are all pretty colorful, and a lot of them have interesting/comical make-up and hair effects.
-I will always support a Pam Grier appearance.
-The soundtrack was awesome. A mix of hip-hop and classic kung-fu scores. If anyone thinks that hip-hop and martial arts don’t go well together, then well, I feel sorry for you?
-On another soundtrack related note, “The Baddest Man Alive” by RZA and The Black Keys (played during the credits) is both an awesome song and an awesome video.
-You can tell that the fight scenes were directed by a guy whose never directed a fight scene before. Similarly, you can tell that the entire movie was directed by a guy whose never directed a movie before.
-CGI blood… lame.
-I continue my stance that Jamie Chung is, and forever will be, the worst part of any movie that has Jamie Chung in it. SHE’S NOT A GOOD ACTRESS. HER FACE SHOWS NO REAL EMOTION.
-Kind of tonally back and forth between funny/awesome and serious/boring.. And the most serious/boring sequence takes up a lot of time at the end of the second act, and gets really serious and boring.
-Lucy Liu basically plays the same character in Kill Bill.
-Gordon Liu (NO RELATION) basically plays the same character in Kill Bill.
-For a movie that prided itself on being so feverishly violent and crazy, I was surprised to see that there was no nudity in it. Especially since a majority of the movie takes place in a brothel. NOT THAT I NEED NUDITY IN MOVIES FOR THEM TO BE GOOD…! (nervously looks over shoulder to make sure girlfriend isn’t watching me write this review) But ya know, just sayin’.
Final Thoughts: I don’t know how they got Russell Crowe to be in this film AND play the character that he played, but that was certainly awesome. I’m sure there will be noticeable parallels between this character and the one he plays in Les Miserables next month. It might even be the same character! However, the whole movie surrounding Crowe is just “meh”. It was mostly entertaining, but I’m not so sure it should have been. The final product is mostly forgettable. I’m actually struggling to remember many of the cool parts, and I didn’t see it that long ago. A lot is going on during the actions scenes, but I mean that in a bad way. You’re probably better off watching any of the movies that The Man with the Iron Fists is paying homage to over the film itself. But ya know, if you’re really into martial arts stuff maybe you’ll enjoy it more than most. I’m sure it will satisfy “gun with a knife attached to it” enthusiasts.
6 out of 10