Year of Release: 2015
Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Arcade Pictures/Strike Entertainment
In the past, when I saw that there was a sequel of The Man With The Iron Fists that was made, I was baffled and not baffled at the same time. It wasn’t until recently that I found out how the first film did in its theatrical run. However, for it to have green-lit a sequel, I could only guess that a lot of units of the DVD and/or Blu Ray sold when it came out on home video. That, and maybe RZA also wrote a screenplay for the film which then got Universal to make it happen.
Like the first film, RZA had more than just a couple of credits as he yet again starred in it, as well as co-wrote the screenplay, and composed the film’s score. He also had an executive producer credit (Along with Eli Roth, the predecessor’s co-writer) and a music supervisor credit for the film, which for some reason was listed as his real name, Robert F. Diggs, whereas the other credits he was credited by his stage name. However, UNLIKE the first film, he didn’t direct it this time, as it was directed by Roel Reine, who is known for directed a lot of straight-to-video sequels. I will admit that I have seen a good amount of his films, ranging from the Death Race prequels, Hard Target 2, and sequels to a few WWE Studios films such as The Marine 2, The Condemned 2, and 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded. What can I say? I have a strange thing for straight-to-video sequels, not to mention that I am also a wrestling fan.
With a different director at the helm this time, it had a different feel to the first film. As far as any returning characters go, RZA’s character, Thaddeus, is the only one to return. Sure, there were some flashback sequences to some characters from its predecessor, but only two of them were played by the same actors. It’s a totally different story this time, too, as Thaddeus went to a different village to seek a temple to make peace with himself. He was found wounded by some villagers and then found himself in the middle of a power conflict in that same village. I will say that RZA had more of a presence this time around, despite having not been seen for a half hour after the first scene he was in.
Another thing that was different this time around were the fight sequences with some characters. It appeared that a lot of the fight scenes included some legitimate martial artists and weren’t reliant on the use of wires. But was jarring were the editing and odd camera angles during those scenes. For example, one scene had two men fighting and then there were bird’s eye camera angles and then moved close to them and then changed angles, rinse and repeat. That didn’t take away from the fact that the fighting in those scenes was good, though, just the editing and cuts were a bit distracting.
Carl Ng, who played the main villain, Master Ho, seemed like he was having a blast playing that role. It’s like he really brought his A-game to it and was committed to it. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa did a good job in his role, too, and the twist/revelation towards the end was definitely something that I would not have expected and he is good as always. As for RZA, he didn’t do a bad job in his role. My main guess is that he was more or less swamped with a lot of his duties in the first film that he didn’t put a lot of effort into the role. He still has room for improvement as an actor, but he did a better job in this film (I didn’t mind him in Brick Mansions, looking back).
RZA also handled the score pretty well. I have always admired him as a producer and I think he should do film scores a lot more. But also like in the first film, there were some rap songs played in some scenes. Now I liked what I had heard, but the song just felt out of place and was just too anachronistic for this.
I must say that I found myself enjoying this film more than I thought that I would. I even enjoyed it more than the first film. A lot of the action scenes were actually decent, especially the big climax. As said before, the fight scenes could have been better without the odd edits and camera angles, but that’s about as far as I could go in regards to the flaws. I wonder now if RZA is planning to do a third film. Only time will tell.