The Man With the Iron Fists Review

The Man With the Iron Fists Review

Movies

iron fists

The Man With the Iron Fists is not an elegant movie, to say the very least. But it’s a movie with a heart of gold once you get past the high levels of gore. RZA’s directorial debut is a movie that is clearly a loving tribute to Hong Kong action cinema, and it’s a love letter that seems like it was written by a teenage boy. It earnestly means everything it’s saying, even if the sentiment is unrefined.

In the Chinese settlement of Jungle Village a noble blacksmith (RZA) is swept up in a gang war that is heating up over stolen imperial gold and must team up with an Englishman (Russell Crowe) to put an end to the war. To do this the Blacksmith must forge his greatest weapon.

The plot of the movie isn’t exactly bare bones. There are a lot of different elements and characters at play here to the point that it would be a chore to list them all. This is simultaneously the movie’s biggest benefit and detriment. This movie is very ambitious, especially for a first time director. RZA may have had some tutoring from Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth, but he clearly has room for improvement. Having said that he shows some serious promise as an action director. In fact I have no problems with the way the film is directed. It’s cartoonishly over the top and gory, but in an oddly sensible way. The only gripes I have with the movie purely have to do with the script.

The primary thing wrong with this movie is that it doesn’t establish its rules early on. Every action movie has rules, and with the first fight scene those rules are established. For example, in John Woo’s Hard Boiled the teahouse fight establishes the rule that in this world guns have an infinite supply of ammo. In the first fight of Drunken Master II it’s established that the more a drunken boxer drinks, the more powerful they become. But with Iron Fists the ideas of Chi as a plot device aren’t established until we’re well into the film. While it’s forgivable for Wuxia films to not explain why people are able to fly, when you go to the trouble of explaining why certain characters have certain powers it’s best for it to not feel like something that’s just being dropped on us.

Another problem stems from the way the Blacksmith’s back story is delivered. It’s understandable that at some point you would have to have a scene explaining why an African American is in the middle of 1800s China, but the problem with the way it’s explained is that it arrives too late for us to invest in him as a character. I would almost have preferred they left the character unexplained. It would have been fine considering the Chinese characters are all speaking English. Like I said, the rules aren’t explained soon enough. Or better yet, give his back story from the very beginning of the movie. It would have made the moment when he gets the iron fists even more poignant.

It probably sounds like I didn’t like the movie, right? Well that’s not the case at all. I actually loved a lot about this movie. First of all while the Blacksmith seems to play second fiddle to the supporting characters I couldn’t help but cheer for him by the end of it. This guy goes through some serious crap in this movie and to see him become empowered is great.

Also, as I previously said, I like how the movie is directed. RZA knows how to pull a kung fu movie off in terms of style. There’s not an ounce of shaky cam footage and for that I am sincerely grateful. He also gets serious bonus points for presenting the movie in anamorphic widescreen. RZA’s music also fits in perfectly with the tone that’s struck. I also loved the nods to classic movies, and I don’t just mean in terms of direction. I felt like I was in on a great inside joke when the love song from John Woo’s The Killer started playing in one scene. It’s little stuff like that that makes up this movie. Well, little stuff and Russell Crowe.

Yeah, about Russell Crowe…it’s a good thing RZA gave a good understated performance because Russell Crowe owned this movie. He owned it. He owned it to the point that I want his character, Jack Knife, to get his own movie. He’s more than just comedic relief, he’s a character that you can cheer for right next to the Blacksmith. I would go on raving about the rest of the actors in the film, but to be honest everyone does a good job with the material that they’re given.

Overall The Man With the Iron Fists is a fun movie. You see the love for Hong Kong action all over it and even though the movie is unfocused in its narrative and the main character doesn’t get enough of the limelight it has some great fun. The only true complaint, plot aside, is that you wish it had brought a little more innovation. Having said that, if RZA gets to direct the remake of the Last Dragon with Samuel L. Jackson as Sho’nuff, I’m absolutely in. If you love Hong Kong action flicks, then check this out.

Is the Videogame Apocalypse Upon Us?

Is the Videogame Apocalypse Upon Us?

Games

I think it’s safe to say that the world can appreciate videogames for all they’ve accomplished as well as the unending joy they have brought us. So it’s with that statement I ask why? Why does the industry feel the need to make it harder and harder for them to do so? Ladies and gentlemen I believe that we may be witnessing the fall of the gaming industry if things do not change within the next few years, and not just for one console or company either.

It all started with online gaming, which was huge at the time of it’s conception. We could go online and play all of our first person shooters and co-op games with our friends, it was absolutely amazing and still is to this day. The problems started coming when Microsoft decided to  charge people for the service. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that rival companies offered the same services for free, so why did Microsoft have to be the only sellout? Regardless of this people continued to pay for Microsoft’s services rather than use the free service Sony and Nintendo offered them. Why? because Sony spends more time trying to figure out how to make content for the PS3 that should’ve already been on there work properly than it does anything else and Nintendo’s online capabilities are horrendous to say the least. On several occasions content has been released simultaneously for the 360 and the PS3, but only the 360 would receive it because the PS3 had bugs it needed to work out. And since people don’t feel like listening to their friends brag about the content they would rather just make the console switch. Another irritation is that not everybody has access to the internet, it’s crazy to hear but it’s completely true as well. So when companies put out games with humongous errors or glitches and fix them through patches later not everybody gets to have their game fixed. Nintendo is better about releasing games that are actually completed but in all honesty not everyone wants to be stuck playing just Mario and Zelda  for the rest of their days.

Except the guy who has this
Except this guy. He’d be okay with that.

Gone are the days when anybody could just pick up a videogame and just play for fun, now it’s all about the updates and the online play. Fans of shooters can’t enjoy a good campaign because it’s only four hours long, whereas the online has hundreds of different modes. But this all pales in comparison to the true devil in the details: DLC. DLC was originally created to offer gamers more to do after they were done with their games, but now it’s gotten so bad that developers are purposely leaving parts out of games just to release them as DLC later. It’s insulting to the people who play the games and is pretty sleazy on the part of the company as well. Capcom even goes so far as to leave the content on the disc only to have you buy it later.  On top of this we have companies like EA who give you a pass in order to get online with their games, and if you want you want to get online with the same game on any other console you have to pay for  new code. It’s like instead of giving the bully at school you’re lunch money you have to them pay them just to eat, but then they take your apple and you have to pay them extra if you want to eat that as well.  I realize that people need money, I really do, but how far are these game companies willing to go?

Pictured above: actual Capcom/EA business meeting.
Pictured above: actual Capcom/EA business meeting.

With rumors now swirling of the Xbox 720 doing away with used games and needing online access to even play single player games with no online mode, I’d say pretty far.  I understand that the Call Of Duty/Halo crowd is huge, but these people can’t keep screwing over classic gamers and expect them to keep buying. If these rumors are true then I believe we may be entering the Dark Ages of gaming. What do you guys think?

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

Games

I’d like to start by telling those of you who don’t already know that I am in fact a humongous fan of Devil May Cry. With that out of the way I’d like to mention that I was not too thrilled about this reboot when I first heard of it, however after some altering of the new Dante’s initial appearance and the realization that Ninja Theory has a solid calendar I managed to warm up to it. It wasn’t until the demo release that I realized what I was in store for, and man was it looking good. The controls were very solid and the weapons were interchangeable in a way that allowed for seamless combos. It was a DmC fan’s dream as far as gameplay was concerned. The dialogue was cheesy and the cursing seemed arbitrary at times, but overall it seemed to have the spirit of Devil May Cry. Well after finally getting my hands on the game I’m glad to say that DmC fans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief, because this reboot is one hell of a game!

THE PLOT: The plot follows Dante as he is brought by a young psychic named Kat into an organization called “The Order”. Once there Dante meets his brother Vergil, who reveals to him that all of mankind is currently at the whim of a powerful demon named Mundus, the same demon that killed their parents when they were younger. Dante then joins Kat and Vergil in their quest to destroy Mundus both for revenge and the sake of mankind. The plot has the same villain as the original game but the similarities end there. The new DMC takes place in a futuristic city called Limbo which is controlled by Mundus and his army of demons. The demons live in an alternate dimension that can only be accessed through portals either made by Kat, or seen by Dante or Vergil. The fact that there is actually a human populace in this game was a nice treat seeing as in the past DMC has been completely devoid of any life minus the main characters. The dialogue in the game is cheesy at times with forced profanity and childish humor abounds, but honestly it wouldn’t be Dante if he wasn’t making cheesy jokes. The new Dante has just as much if not more personality than the original and when the game takes itself seriously it’s almost like you’re watching a movie. While the plot may not be the most complicated it’s executed very well and the character driven writing of Ninja Theory stands tall once again.

THE PRESENTATION: This is definitely the most beautiful Devil May Cry game to date. The environments while mostly simplistic are very well designed and the addition of them coming alive in the demon universe makes it even better. The character models are well done and the bosses are the best in the series so far. The animation both cut scene and in-game is fantastic, my only complaint with the game graphically is the design of the enemies. A lot of the enemies are just the same enemy but covered in a different colored flame, so by the time you reach the end of the game it’s like you’ve fought a million of the same enemy.

THE GAMEPLAY: As we all know the gameplay is Devil May Cry’s bread and butter. This was the series that basically created the hack and slash after all. Ninja Theory does not disappoint, delivering an extremely tight knit combat system unlike any I’ve experienced in a hack and slash game. The new system allows you to switch between every weapon in Dante’s arsenal mid combat for seamless combos. The Angel and Devil arms also allow Dante to pull himself to enemies, and pull enemies to him respectively. So basically you can endlessly fly between opponents while you pummel them with any weapon you so please, all while looking like a bad-ass mofo! If you play Devil May Cry for the combat then this game has everything you’ll need and much more.

CONCLUSION: Ninja Theory went above and beyond to bring fans of the original series a faithful adaptation and I would say that they’ve more than succeeded. The story is the best DMC has ever had and it’s actually a relief to have a fresh new look at the series. The new Dante is pretty much the same as he’s always been, but everything else towers over what’s been accomplished in the past. If you’re a fan of Devil May Cry and you’ve been skeptical I urge you to pick this game up, it will not disappoint.

8.5/10