The schlocky horror show

FILM
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS

Cert 18
***

Written AND directed by Wu-Tang founding member and long time buddy of Quentin Tarantino, the RZA, The Man with the Iron Fists sails dangerously close to the point at which geeky fanboy genre pastiche turns into plain, simple rubbish.

The Man with the Iron Fists is an incomprehensible wingding of a film. The characters have names like Silver Lion, Brassbody, X-blade and Madam Blossom, and the script is littered with nonsensical mock-proverbs (“power belongs to no-one until it is seized through sex and violence”, “when it comes to money, things get funny”).

It’s fun – just enough fun to justify the perplexing plot, absurd costumes, ketchup special effects and ridiculous dialogue. Complaining about the script is a bit like turning back a Big Mac because the cheese is not Fourme d’Ambert. Just as eyeballs are punched from sockets and arms are ripped from shoulders, enjoyment of this film requires the removal of brain from skull.

Russell Crowe appears to be having the time of his life as Mr Knife (“my friends call me Jack”), an opium addicted British “emissary” who does nothing but frolic with prostitutes and perform live autopsies on bad guys. Crowe’s amused, flashy performance is the best thing about the film.

The costumes are utterly, hilariously bizarre. The setting is 19th century China, but the characters look like members of a forgotten 80s subculture that combined an appreciation of blow-drying and metallurgy.

A cast full of good sports – Lucy Liu and Byron Mann in particular – ensures The Man with the Iron Fists just about pulls it off.