The members of the WuTang clan ( RZA, GZA, Method man, RedMan, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck,U_God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard) used to get together and watch these films together, leading them to use the 'kung-fu' mentality in the foundation of their rap group. Several members had been acting on and off for years, and RZA (Robert Diggs) decided to write and direct a tribute to the kung-fu movies they loved.
He had been working on a script for four years with his friend (and director) Eli Roth. His first cut of the film was four hours, but Roth convinced him to cut it down to 95 minutes: a much more reasonable length for this type of flick.
The cast is fantastic and really seem to be enjoying themselves:
- RZA plays the aforementioned blacksmith, and is absolutely a better director than an actor, at least at this point. He plays it smart in that the blacksmith is quiet and stoic for the beginning of the movie, and doesn't have much emoting to do until his backstory is revealed. He's fine, not great, but fine.
- Rick Yune (a former hedgefund trader on Wall Street) plays Zen Yi - the X-Blade, who boasts a suit of blades that pop out from various areas. He enters the fray to avenge his father Golden Lion. He's the typical good-guy, determined and honor-bound.
- Russell Crowe is so much better in this than I have seen him recently. He met RZA on the set of the Next Three Days (rent that - it's good) and agreed to be in this despite only having 10 days of availability. He looks like he is having a blast playing the rogue British soldier, who may or may not have a secret agenda.
- Lucy Lui is playing a character very similar to her character from Kill Bill - but again, looks like she is having a great time. She requested the fight she has with Cung Lee's Bronze Lion, to demonstrate her character's fighting skill. She plays the madam of Jungle Village's whorehouse, who also may or may not have a secret agenda (there's a lot of secret agendas in this movie).
- Cung Le plays Bronze Lion and is a multiple champion in various martial arts championships. He has almost no lines in this movie, and is really here for the action.
- Dave Bautista from the WWE plays Brass Body, a character who seems to have a brass body. This makes him almost impervious to damage...unless of course, a character remembers a particular kung fu lesson about pressure points in a flashback... Dave is suprisingly good in this and has a great ease on screen. I hope that he does more movies after this.
- Jamie Chung plays the blacksmith's love who is, of course, working in the whorehouse as the blacksmith raises enough money to free both of them. She has little to do, but is better in this than she was in SuckerPunch, or...I liked this so much more than I liked SuckerPunch (I hated that movie).
- Byron Mann plays Silver Lion and absolutely runs away with this movie. He looks like he is having an amazing time playing the main villian. He is equal parts funny and frightening in his pursuit of the gold and is the perfect character for this movie.
7 out of 10. Gained points for Dave - really good! Lost points for all the blood and guts - ick. Gained points for the lack of PTS - which I was really expecting in this!
Bonus video 1: Game of Death trailer - where the yellow jumpsuit really came from: