Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

The Man with the Iron Fists (USA & Hong Kong, 2012) - Color, Director(s): RZA
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 95 min.

Z-rating: 5 out of 5 stars for an outrageously entertaining kung fu flick

Cheese Factor: 3.5 out of 5 stars for all kung fu genre references made throughout the film

This movie wins my vote for the most entertaining movie of the year!!! Sadly, I'm afraid it will be overlooked as certain audiences will not understand the references to other movies within the genre. If you are a fan of old Shaw Brothers films and old school Kung Fu movies in general, I highly suggest you go support this movie!!!

This throwback to the bloody days of Kung Fu movies has a story that is set in a world carefully crafted for over two years, by The RZA and director Eli Roth, down to the finest detail. The RZA is a freed slave who works as a blacksmith in Jungle Village. There are many different clans at war with one another, forcing the blacksmith to create weapons for them to fight each other with. Gold Lion, a reference to a character steeped in Wudang myth, promises a government official that the Lion Clan will oversee the protection of a large shipment of gold passing through Jungle Village. The leader, Gold Lion, is betrayed by Silver (Byron Mann) and Bronze (Cung Le) Lion who are ready to go to war with the other clans and ambush the gold delivery. Rumors of the gold's presence in Jungle Village attract thieves, bandits, assassins, and mysterious characters of all kinds. The lid blows off when the gold finally arrives and everybody goes to war over it.

I absolutely LOVED this movie. Lots of fun and great for Kung Fu genre geeks! When this movie starts, Quentin Tarantino does a quick intro and they play an exclusive trailer for QT's new movie Django Unchained. Already, that got me excited! Then the movie starts off with title screens that look straight out of an old Shaw Brothers movie, with the Chinese calligraphy and all. Any genre fanboy should have a stiffening rod stirring in their pants at this point that could easily be mistaken for a bo staff. All the weapons and costumes of each of the different clans are all elaborately designed. There are interesting new concepts mixed in with genre favorites such as a Brass Body character (played by Dave Bautista) that is reminiscent of the Invincible Body techniques seen in movies like the Five Deadly Venoms and Warriors Two. The movie is scored by RZA himself, featuring tracks with excerpts from old Wu Tang Clan songs. Also, keep an eye out for cameos by old school martial arts movie stars such as Leung Kar-Yan and Gordon Liu as well as modern day celebrities like MC Jin.

Nudity: while there was no graphic nudity shown in the movie, there are a lot of references to sexual acts being performed. In fact, a great deal of the story takes place in a brothel. Still, there are VERY beautiful girls all over this movie and they're all a pleasure to look at.

Gore: There are some gruesome and bloody moments like a guy's eyeball getting punched out of his head. A guy gets his arms ripped part way off by Cung Lee in the first 5 minutes of the movie!!! All these screenshots were taken from movie's official website and do not belong to me. Otherwise, I would've gotten some of the gorier scenes in the pictures. You should really be seeing it for yourself anyway.

Awesome: to the MAX!!! This is the type of fun that I expect to have at the movies. Uncompromising, gory, Kung Fu goodness. Trying to catch all the references was a lot of fun too. The Gold Lion character for example, I'm pretty sure, is a "nod" to the character from the novel The Heaven Sword and the Dragon Saber that inspired movies such as Kung Fu Cult Master, which also featured different clans with their particular styles. A story that heavily involves characters from a sect of the Wudang, which we all know is where the Wu Tang Clan derives their name from. During the final battle sequences, we see a fight between Silver Lion and Gold Lion's son that directly references Bruce Lee's final fight scene in Enter the Dragon. Also, the secret to defeating Brass Body is almost directly lifted from the Warriors Two movie. Not that I'm accusing this movie of stealing anything, this is just a labor of love created by a very obvious fan of the genre for fellow fans of the genre. If you've enjoyed any of the films mentioned in this review or any others in the genre, please go support this movie. Completely original films made with this level of passion are becoming rare and hard to come by nowadays. The action is fast paced, the camerawork is stylized, and it perfectly captures the essence of the old Kung Fu film they're throwing back to. Go support this film so we can have many more like it!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wrestlemaniac (2006)

Wrestlemaniac (USA, 2006) - Color, Director(s): Jesse Baget
MPAA Rating: NR
[UK: 15]
Approx. 75 min.

Z-rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars for failing in the wrestling aspect

Cheese Factor: 5 out of 5 stars for self aware cheese

From the title, you can probably guess that this movie is going to be terrible. And you would be right! Knowing this, I went into the movie with extremely low expectations. The story is that a group of people are in a van driving through Mexico to film a porno. They somehow end up where "El Mascarado" is and they start getting picked off one by one. There's some filler story in there somewhere too but as usual, no one cares. We're here to watch a masked Mexican wrestler kill people with his bare hands and rip their faces off after he defeats them. (Symbolic of removing the mask of a luchador and disgracing him after defeat) I would've LOVED this movie if it featured a character that performed deadly versions of wrestling moves. I think that's what everyone essentially expects from a movie like this but I was disappointed to find only very basic wrestling moves were used in this movie. I think I saw a backbreaker (unoriginal), bearhug, and a splash from the top of a barrel. I think it'd be hard to even find a clothesline or a drop kick.

The concept is pretty simple and easy to follow. The killer is played by Rey Mysterio Sr. (The uncle of Rey Mysterio Jr.) they finally figure out that the way to beat him is to remove HIS mask and then he can't show his face in public again. The problem is they can't overpower him so they have to find a weapon to use against him. This is the part that frustrates me the most, I think the first thing I would've picked up was a steel chair. Instead they go for a 2x4 with huge nails sticking out of one end. (That's not even a wrestling weapon!!) If they wanted the 2x4, they could've wrapped it barbed wire instead. They eventually all die and no one makes it out alive, don't bother seeing this one. You'll just be wasting your time.

Nudity: This was the typical horror formula of boobies and violence. There was a surprisingly lack of nudity for a couple of guys trying to film a porno. Not really a major complaint though because I was looking for the wrestling more than the nudity. 

The gore in the movie was simple, which I liked. I don't know if this movie would've had the budget to go all out in special effects, so I'd rather it be used sparingly than have it be poorly done. The parts when the wrestler rips off the faces is actually pretty gruesome and looks good.

She even touches the chair! What a tease...

Awesome: This movie really had the potential to be so much better. The only complaint that I really have is about the lack of actual wrestling moves in the movie. This definitely incorporated more Slasher elements than they did Pro Wrestling. For example, how they don't show the killer right away to help build suspense like the shark in Jaws. I liked that he had face nailed to his wall, that was pretty bad ass. Other than that, he's just a crazy ass wrestler that started killing people... why hasn't the police or anyone tried to stop him before? There's just a crazed, violent luchador on the loose and everyone just dismisses it as legend? Sure. Why not! If you like ridiculously outrageous movies where you just can't help but laugh when you think about the story, this one's for you.