Actor: Dustin Nguyen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Eugenia Yuan, Carl Ng, Pim Bubear
Director: Reine Roel
Writers: RZA, John Jarrell
Producers: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Ogden Gavanski
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016
The fact that I can’t tell if the poorly constructed sequences, cheesy dialogue and shoddy special effects are meant to be intentionally bad as a way of imitating and parodying the genre or are simply signs of awful filmmaking means that The Man with the Iron Fists 2 was a failure, regardless. The failure is a result of a lack of commitment to either make a movie intentionally campy, like Robert Rodriguez’s Machete franchise, or a more sincere effort like the latest adaptation of 47 Ronin. This typical straight-to-video cash grab from Universal studios is not brave enough to take any real risks, and the result is a predictably bland follow-up film.
To be honest, I don’t remember enough about the first film for the sequel’s storyline to have any real relevance to me. On the other hand, I truly don’t think it matters. All you really need to know is that Thaddeus (RZA) returns to the narrative as the title character, a blacksmith whose hands have been replaced by fists made of iron. These fists result in a majority of the onscreen violence, though the real carnage comes in the form of RZA’s acting skills. The rapper has long been a fan of kung-fu films, and has found a way to engrain himself in them by producing and co-writing himself into them. This does not necessarily mean that he belongs in front of the camera; I would much rather see a mic in his hand than iron fists.
Thankfully, the storyline takes some of the focus away from Thaddeus onto a conflict between the townsfolk of a small mining village and the corrupt Master Ho (Carl Ng). When the kindness of one of the miners (Dustin Nguyen) puts him in debt, Thaddeus agrees to build weapons that might help in the peasant’s revolt. Key the rap soundtrack and generic montage sequences of RZA making indestructible tools that can double as weapons. Unfortunately, the sequences never work together within this film, and all of his work to disguise the weapons seems pointless by the time the film’s brief climax is reached.
The Blu-ray release of The Man with the Iron Fists 2 brags the inclusion of an unrated version of the film which is about one minute longer. I’m sure that some of the more graphic shots were included in this minute, but the violence seems relatively tame even with these additions. I can’t imagine that it would have made a difference in getting an R-rating, which leads me to believe that this is yet another consistently over-used marketing ploy from Universal Studios home entertainment. They don’t even try and hide their transparent grabs for cash any more, exploiting even the unsuccessful franchises.
The Blu-ray combo pack release also includes a DVD and a digital HD copy of the movie. Along with the triplicate ways to view the film, the extras include a handful of deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and a commentary track. Producer/co-writer/star/soundtrack-contributor RZA also provides an optional audio commentary alongside director Roel Reiné.
Entertainment Value: 4.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10
Historical Significance: 1/10
Special Features: 5/10