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Fist Don’t Fail Me Now!

Man-With-the-Iron-Fists-Prequel

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012) Director: RZA Starring: RZA, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, and Russell Crowe Rating: R for graphic violence, bad language, sexy ladies, and bad voice dubbing.

It’s funny; as much as I love movies with lots of martial arts type action, I don’t like martial arts movies.

You know the ones I’m referring to:  those low budget kung fu movies from the 60’s and 70’s with the poorly dubbed dialogue and over the top sound effects? Not a fan.

When I was a kid those flicks were on every Saturday afternoon on some local TV station, but I never watched them. Truth be told, I was into other things as a kid, like baseball, Star Wars, and solving mysteries with my older brother Frank Hardy and our neighbor Nancy Drew. I had a wonderful childhood.

Anyway,  hip-hop artist extraordinaire RZA so adores the martial arts film genre that he (with some help from Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth) co-wrote, directed, and stars in The Man with the Iron Fists, a tribute to the kung fu films of old with elaborate fight scenes, a plot that is barely understandable, and more asian people flying through the air than the Shanghai Skydiving Academy.  

In a Chinese village called Jungle Village, the Lion Clan and the Hyena Clan spend the days fighting each other and the nights dreaming of fighting each other. The gangs bludgeon their opponents with amazing weapons forged by the Blacksmith (RZA) who has come to terms with the fact that his weapons are prolonging a war in his town and he is the only black man in 19th century China.  Blacksmith’s girlfriend Lady Silk (Jamie Chung) works at the local brothel as a waitress.

Did I say waitress? Sorry, that’s not right. Lady Silk is a huge prostitute.

Blacksmith hopes to save up enough money to buy Lady Silk’s freedom from brothel owner Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu) so he can marry the huge prostitute, but things get complicated when the Lion clan kills their leader Gold Lion and steals a huge shipment of government gold that passes through the village. Soon all heck breaks out as the Lion and Hyena clan fight over the gold, which attracts Gold Lion’s son Zen-Yi (Rick Yune) who wants to avenge his Father’s death, a huge invincible killer for hire who’s made of brass for some reason, and an English mercenary who’s played by Russell Crowe for some reason. Zen-Yi, Blacksmith, and Jack (Crowe) join forces to retrieve the gold before the clans kill each other and every innocent bystander and the Emperor’s army arrives to take back their gold and level the village.

Things build to a pretty big climax as every main character squares off against every other main character in a highly choreographed orgy of kung fu type violence. Blacksmith most notably makes things right against his enemies with his ultimate weapon, a set of badass iron fists that look like they were purchased from Gene Simmons’ garage sale.

The Man with the Iron Fists is a pretty spot on homage to the martial arts movies of old if you’re into the martial arts movies of old.

As I stated earlier, I’m not.

Soooooo….I guess we’re done with this review. Hmm. What should we talk about now? Have you seen Iron Man 3 yet? Any big plans for the summer? Do you know anything about rashes?

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Worst Neighbors EVER!

THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2012)  Director: Gareth Evans  Starring: Iko Uwaris, Joe Taslim, Piere Gruno, Ray Saheptapy  Rating: Unrated, but lots of graphic violence with guns and kung fu fighting. 

I’m in a sharing kind of mood today. So before we begin this review, let me tell you a little something about myself.

For 15 years I lived in New York City in a neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen. The apartment building I called home for that time was a decent place to live.  There was heat in the winter, cool breezes in the summer, and the Wi-Fi signals were easy to steal. My neighbors kept to themselves and weren’t a nuisance, except for the guy on the second floor who smoked more marijuana than the entire Rastafarian nation. There was no elevator and my apartment was on the fifth floor, but I loved climbing all of those stairs every day, and the years of exercise made my thighs rock hard and buttocks taut but supple.

I’ve shared too much. And now it’s awkward.

Anyhoo, my time in a big city apartment building was generally pleasant and relatively uneventful, which is not the case for the poor blokes living in the Jakarta high rise featured in The Raid: Redemption. 

Imagine you’re trying to get to the basement to do a load of laundry when a all of a sudden a bloody war breaks out in the hallway between a heavily armed drug cartel and an invading SWAT team. Bullets are flying, people are dying, and you just know if you don’t get to the dryer fast enough some impatient jerk is going to dump your nice clean clothes on the floor. It’s always something, isn’t it?

The Raid: Redemption opens with an elite SWAT team preparing to assault a rundown apartment building. Their mission: capture vicious crime boss Tama (Ray Sahetapy) who is holed up inside and take out his drug lab, which is probably a violation of his lease agreement.

Newbie SWAT team member Rama (Iko Uwaris) is concerned about the raid because he’s a good cop. His superiors Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) and Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) aren’t concerned because they checked off the “I’m a careless jerk who will get men killed” box on the police officer application form.

Rama’s fears are proven correct when the team is ambushed about three seconds into the raid by Tama’s machine gun toting thugs, who basically control the building. Tama promises free rent for life to anyone who wipes out the last remaining cops, which is a good deal because I saw on House Hunters International  that decent apartments in downtown Jakarta controlled by a drug kingpin are very hard to come by.

It’s up to Rama and the handful of survivors to fight their way to safety. Luckily Rama has a few tricks up his sleeve, like an advanced degree in Pencak Silat, which is an Indonesian martial art, and not an appetizer at Panda Express. Soon Rama is kicking the heck out of every machete wielding creep he encounters. The bad guys also know a little Pencak Silat, but in keeping with the tradition of highly choreographed martial arts movies, they attack our hero one at a time so he can dispatch them in spectacular fashion.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. The Raid:Redemption is a slickly filmed action extravaganza with some kick ass ass kicking. Seriously, there is lots of kicking in this movie. If I wasn’t 100% sure I’d dislocate my groin, I’d give it two kicks way up. Watch it with someone you want to kick as soon as possible.

Oh I almost forgot: this movie is in Indonesian with subtitles, so there will be some reading involved. And don’t be so darn stubborn – put on your reading glasses! That’s why you bought them!