My buddy Telf tipped me off to this one. E! Online is reporting that Wu-Tang Clan abbot/GHOST DOG scorer the RZA is claiming that Russell Crowe is in his long-in-development kung fu movie THE MAN WITH THE IRON FIST. I don’t know what the fuck is going on, man, but we live in a world where Steven Seagal co-stars with Robert DeNiro and Jessica Alba, where Dolph Lundgren fights Jet Li on the big screen, and where the guy from THE INSIDER and GLADIATOR is hanging out with Bobby Digital. These are some pretty good times, in my opinion.
There’s reason to be skeptical. RZA has already starred in and directed two kung fu movies that have never seen the light of day. The first was BOBBY DIGITAL, which he wrote and filmed under the influence of hallucinogens and which inspired one of the first unexpectedly wack Wu-Tang related albums. The second (I think) was the more old school styled WU-TANG VS. THE GOLDEN PHOENIX, which I never heard of until it showed up as a mysterious trailer, but knowing RZA it’s probly real. One minute he’s in his studio doing music for the “Afro Samurai” cartoon, next thing he’s in China filming sword fights with the choreographer of 5 DEADLY VENOMS. But it looks a little demo reel. Actually, it looks like SHAOLIN DOLEMITE. And made by some of the same people I think, but minus Dolemite.
On the other hand he seems to have really gotten a greenlight and a $20 million budget for this one, mentoring from Tarantino on the set of KILL BILL and Eli Roth has come on as co-writer and co-producer. Not that Roth is a sure thing but I do enjoy some of his movies and I think RZA could use the support and discipline of somebody who has made a few releasable movies.
As for RZA’s kung fu credentials, we’re talking about a guy who goes to the Shaolin Temple and hangs out with the monks there. I highly recommend the commentary track on the Dragon Dynasty DVD of THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, where his superior knowledge completely blows the mind of the Hong Kong film historian he’s teamed up with. And even if those movies he made are bad I’m sure they were good practice for making a better one.
Now if we could ever get him to make another score even one eighth as good GHOST DOG.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.