Blu-ray Review: The Man with the Iron Fists 2

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In 2012, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA made his debut as a writer-director-star with The Man with the Iron Fists. It didn’t do well theatrically, but must’ve amassed enough home video interest to justify a continuation of the story of The Blacksmith (RZA). The first one generated a lot of interest due to its supporting cast, which included Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, David Bautista, and Jamie Chung. Eli Roth co-scripted. Roth is back as co-executive producer, but otherwise part two loses its luster in terms of big names. Roel Reiné (Death Race 2 and 3, The Marine 2, 12 Rounds 2) was brought in to helm this one, which is now available on Blu-ray, Digital HD, and DVD via Universal Studios.

The results are better than one might expect given that Iron Fists 1 was pretty much a big, indulgent mess of a vanity project. RZA is a music visionary and his work in the world of hip hop, not to mention his work on the soundtracks of movies like Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, is justly celebrated. But he creates a bit of a charisma vacuum when he appears onscreen as the titular character. He nearly dies at the outset of part two, unconsciously floating down river for most of the first act. We’re back in 19th century China, smack dab in the middle of a mining town where human rights don’t exist. Meanwhile we meet put-upon miner Li Kung (Dustin Nguyen) and his family, including only daughter Innocence (Pim Bubear). Baddies Master Ho (Carl Ng) and the town mayor (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) make sure no one enjoys any happiness or freedoms.

Let’s be honest, martial arts fight scenes are the reason to see Iron Fists 2. There’s plenty of fakey digital blood splatters as people are decapitated and otherwise mauled by razor sharp blades. The near-mythical Blacksmith, once rescued by Innocence, must forge weapons for the townspeople, imploring them to use them wisely and judiciously. The fight choreography is ass-kicking and director Roel Reiné does right by keeping the staging simple. Rather than cutting around frenetically, he lets the camera simply watch the fighters (for the most part). Those set pieces are what make Iron Fists 2 a, dare I say it, serviceable improvement over its predecessor.

Iron Fists 2 back cover (380x192).jpgUniversal’s Blu-ray presentation offers exactly the kind of excellence we’ve come to expect of even direct-to-video, lower-budgeted films. Super-efficient director Roel Reiné doubled as cinematographer and while the staging is pretty straightforward, the high definition is top notch. The same goes for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which offers a kinetic mix of Howard Drossin’s score, RZA-supervised hip hop beats, and furious fighting sound effects.

The Blu-ray offers the opportunity to watch an “unrated” cut that runs less than a minute longer than the R-rated version. Roel Reiné and writer-star RZA sit for an audio commentary track. There’s also a 14-minute ‘making-of’ featurette called “Chi Warriors.” A collection of eight deleted scenes runs just over ten minutes.

Universal’s Blu-ray Combo Pack of The Man with the Iron Fists 2 includes a standard DVD plus a downloadable Digital Copy.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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