The Man With the Iron Fists 2

| April 13, 2015

RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fists was a fantastic tribute to old school kung fu films and comic book aesthetics. It was an honest surprise by the legendary hip hop producer/rapper, who starred, wrote and directed the first film, managed to make an entertaining homage to the likes of the Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest and a slew of other Hong Kong staples. When the chance came to review this direct-to-video sequel, which retained none of its initial cast and appeared out of nowhere, I was extremely skeptical as to how this sequel would turn out. While this outing lacks the budget of its predecessor, The Man with the Iron Fists 2 retains all of the charm of the original, while expanding the lore and mythos of the world that the RZA has created.

Thaddeus, after the battles in Jungle Village, travels upstream on a river, in order to find inner peace and forget about the tragedy from his past. After this is cut short from a younger sibling of Silver Lion, the former blacksmith is left for dead and thrown into the river. He floats to a mining town, that is being suppressed by the Beetle Clan, that forces the villagers to mine silver for them. Rescued by Innocence (Pim Bubear), Thaddeus is secretly snuck into the old blacksmith’s forge and helps head villager Li Kung (Dustin Nguyen) to create stronger tools. While working in the mines, Li Kung finds out the true reasons why the miners are being overworked by the Beetle Clan, as well as the secrets behind the ghost of Lord Pi, whose been preying on all of the young girls of the village. Li Kung enlists the help of Thaddeus, in order to rid the village of the Beetle Clan and rid the evil spirit of Lord Pi.

While its noticeable early on that Man with the Iron Fists 2 doesn’t have the budget of the first film, from the props and costume design, the level of energy, portrayed through the acting and cinematography, leaps off of the screen. With RZA only writing and acting in the film, he’s able to help craft a richer sequel, that focuses more on characters, rather than caricatures from kung fu films and a solid story. Director Rene Reiné crafts some entertaining action sequences and makes the film much larger in scope, expands the world, while still taking the actors and telling a smaller story of a troubled village. Actors Dustin Nguyen and Cary-Hiroyuki Tanaka are welcome additions to the cast, along with Eugenia Yuan and Pim Bubear, even if their screen time isn’t much. Carl Ng is menacing as Master Ho, the leader of the Beetle Clan, but still manages to bring a level of camp, like Byron Long’s performance of Silver Lion in the first film. There are a few times where digital effects, like blood splatters and squirts, look really poor, but are made up when the production uses practical effects of heads and bodies exploding in the final action sequence.

The Blu-Ray from Universal comes in a combo pack, that offers a DVD, Digital Copy and a Ultraviolet copy in the package. The video on the disc comes in an AVC encoded, 1080p HD transfer, with an aspect ratio 1.78:1. While the film is meant to have cheesy aesthetics, the only time the transfer looks bad, is when there are digital zooms taking place. Other than this, the disc looks really great for a low budget film. The audio on the disc is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, along with a commentary track from RZA and Director Rene Reiné. Obviously, the music in the soundtrack is just as great as the first film, but so is the entire mix. There’s a great level of clarity, as well as plenty of activity in the surround channels during major action sequences. There are also a few deleted scenes and a really nice, but short, behind the scenes documentary, that sheds some light on the production, which took place in Thailand.

If you love kung fu films as much as the RZA does, you’re bound to fall in love with The Man with the Iron Fists 2. You can tell that its a low budget affair by seeing the strings and cheap props during the action, but you can also see those things in a film like Five Element Ninjas, a Shaw Brothers classic. If you don’t care about those things and want to see a kung fu film made with love, than look no further than this bad ass sequel to The Man with the Iron Fists. Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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