Who else is going to get Quentin Tarrantino, Eli Roth, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and about a dozen amazing MMA and martial arts masters to sign on to your movie concept? Who else has the audacity to make a film that is both a serious homage to old kung fu films and a tongue in check send up of it's excesses? Who else in Hollywood writes a film about an ex-slave blacksmith in 19th century China who loses his hands, loses his girl, and bands together with a vengeful son and an opium addicted sex fiend British officer to forge a pair of iron fists and take down a clan of Lion-like warriors?
If you're the RZA, you get that shit done.
2. Fat Russell Crowe is by far the best Russell Crowe.
Thanks to the online gossip machine, I can Google "Russell Crowe weight gain" and find out that he did it for a film called Body of Lies. He is gloriously, wonderfully fat in this film and it works perfectly. His character, Jack Knife, is a ridiculous pig, starting fights just to be able to chop up his opponents with his gun-knife combo (Yes.), binging on booze, opium and multiple whores. One scene has him popping up out of a bathtub full of prostitute, where he seems to have been simultaneously giving head and pulling out a string of anal beads with his teeth. The fact that he is fat, wet and wearing a see-through white shirt just works for this kind of play, and bless him, Crowe seems to have understood the fun elements to this film and bitten in as hard as possible. His performance is funny, an he's clearly the best actor around for miles. I think it's telling that someone who can demand a high paycheck was willing to jump into a film like Fists. And speaking of higher paychecks...
3. Lucy Liu is a beter actress than you think.
At least she's better than I remember. Liu makes so few films that I almost forget about her and her wonderful ability to deliver even the silliest lines with great relish. She plays Madame Blossom, aka, Black Widow, in Fists. She's a Madam with a heart of gold, she's gorgeous, she's hilarious, and she commands an army of killer prostitutes with the click of wooden sticks. Like Crowe, she seems to be having an enormous amount of fun and sells a weak script.
4. We should all applaud Eli Roth's enthusiasm.
I'm not a fan. Not of the director and really not of the actor. I think the Bear Jew is the weakest part of Inglorious Basterds. But I have to give it up for Roth, who work on the screenplay with RZA. He seems to be unendingly willing to lend his much more famous and marketable name to his friends who might need a boost. I'm a huge fan of the horror director Ty West, and his small, non-gory films are getting distributed because they are "presented by Eli Roth." I would imagine this movie made it to a Regal Cinema near me primarily because Roth and QT had their fingers in it, and for that we should thank them.
5. As far as weapons go, I'll take a crossbow.
It's fast, it's silent, it makes Darrell the coolest character on The Walking Dead. If I had to pick when the zombies come, that's where I'm going. It seems to be pretty damn useful against kung fu too.
6. Silly names ARE cool.
There's Gold Lion, Silver Lion and Bronze Lion. The Gemini Killers. Black Widow and the Bronze Body. Jack Knife. Oh my RZA, here comes the Hyena Clan. This was a great call back to the earliest entries in the genre.
Silver Lion is the big bad in this film, and he's played my an actor/martial artist I don't know at all, names Byron Mann. Mann is an absolute treasure in this film. As hammy as Russell Crowe is, Man is a suckling pig. As far as I can tell, he showed up on the set the first day, and asked for direction. He was clearly told, "Did you ever see that episode of Chapelle's Show where he played Prince? Just do that."
Seriously. His hair and eye make up just get bigger as the movie progresses. I kept waiting for him to start saying, "Uh-uh."
7. Get a guy with a Brass Body. Just do it.
Dave Bautista is a professional wrestler. He's gorgeous. In Fists he's an evil scion of the Tiger Clan (they aren't around anymore...because he killed them ALL) who's body ripples with brass. You can see the awesome special effects in the trailer above. It's just one example of the truly awesome special effects in this film. And he makes Colossus look like a pussy.
8. "Shame on a Nigga" should be the credits for every movie ever made.
9. Buddhist magic is the best magic.
According to this film, learning to control your Chi the Buddhist way will allow you to have your arms chopped off, cauterize the wounds, and attach iron fists which you can then control. With your Chi. Take that science and God!
10. If you get on a boat in Virginia and theirs a storm, you'll wash up on shore in China. Don't question Wu-Logic.