2015 / Director. Roel Reinè.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Despite its overall poor reception I was a fan of THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. There is no doubt that it was a flawed film, however I chose to focus on its style and aesthetic rather than the integrity of its narrative. It was simply a fun movie that paid homage to so many fantasy martial arts films before it. The modern hip-hop soundtrack elevated it to a surreal display of violence and bloodshed. It was also a creative collaboration between rapper RZA and horror guru Eli Roth (with the financial and promotional assistance of Quentin Tarantino).
I thought that the audience had spoken and a sequel was the last thing I expected to see. But what would I know because here we are, three years later, with an all new instalment. RZA returns without the guidance of Roth (who remains as executive producer only) for this direct-to-video that has his character journeying to a remove temple of monks in search of redemption and forgiveness for his sins. He is attacked and taken in by local villagers and soon finds himself caught in a battle between the town and an evil overlord.
With the stigma of 'direct-to-video' looming over this sequel, a certain amount of leniency is required. With only a fraction of the original's budget, there is only so much that this movie can do to meet expectations. Without the counsel of Roth, RZA handed his script to director Roel Reinè who has a reputation for getting the most out of DTV sequels. His previous titles include DEATH RACE 2 & 3, THE MARINE 2, and 12 ROUNDS 2) and it's hard to deny his competence as a filmmaker. He has done the best he can do with THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2 and has relied on a contemporary soundtrack and good photography to hold the viewer's attention. The script is weak and lacks vision. It feels forced and desperate but to Reinè's credit, the set design and cinematography lends it a textural quality that's almost undeserving. Where the first film made use of sound stages and false environments, the bulk of the sequel is shot in location. The cinematography is elegant, but the consequence real locations is that the movie lacks the heightened fantasy of the original.
The final undoing of MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2 is the acting. RZA is certainly a bad actor and there isn't a decent performance in sight. It is a dumbed down follow up to a highly stylised film and is unlikely to appease fans.