Wu-Tang’s RZA talks about latest project

by Brooke Schlyer

RZA is widely known for being the front man of acclaimed rap group Wu-Tang Clan, but soon he will be equally known for his contributions as a filmmaker. This Friday, RZA makes his feature film debut as a director, screenwriter and leading man in “The Man with the Iron Fists.”

The highly anticipated film shows RZA’s life-long passion for martial arts movies. RZA explained how he wanted to make a film in which he paid homage to other martial arts movies by filtering his favorite elements and incorporating them into “The Man with the Iron Fists.” To make the film unique, he wanted to add some new elements that aren’t in other martial arts films, which would appeal to the American audience. “Added into the ingredients that haven’t been in the martial arts films before are the comic book element, the sci-fi element and the American element, which is prevalent in the film,” RZA said.

In addition, RZA wanted to make sure the film would be appreciated and respected by the Asian audience. To do this, he added silk-sash dancers and music from the Asian culture. For example, in one of the scenes he added a well-known Chinese opera that “resonates” with the main conflict in the film.

“I took a piece of that opera and I put it in one small, little small scene in the film just to show respect to the culture and the history,” RZA said.

To help with the film, he collaborated with producer and writer Eli Roth, known for movies such as “Cabin Fever,” “Hostel” and “Inglorious Basterds.” RZA explained when people read his original screenplay, they became lost, so he needed Roth’s experience to flush out his ideas. Roth took the screenplay from 90 to 130 pages by adding background information on the characters to make the story more clear.

RZA wanted to make sure audiences knew both he and Roth equally contributed to the wit and gore throughout the film, as RZA is known for his wit in his lyrics and Roth is known for gore in his movies. In fact, he said that the two “ping- ponged” ideas off each other to make every scene unique.

The film, which is presented by Quentin Tarantino, follows Zen Yi (Rick Yune) as he travels to a jungle village in China after finding out his father, Gold Lion, has been assassinated. In the village, Zen befriends Blacksmith (RZA) and Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) as they try to find out why Gold Lion was killed and take revenge, so Zen Yi can rightfully replace his father as a tribe leader. The trio will have to fight against several clans to find Brass Body (Dave Bautista) who was hired to kill Gold Lion and holds the answers to many of the questions. With all of the jungle clans in the village, it ends up being an all out battle for gold and power.

The only place safe from fighting is the village brothel, owned by Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). Blacksmith’s love interest Lady Silk (Jamie Chung) works at the brothel and Blacksmith will do anything to keep her safe.

“The Man with the Iron Fists” releases Nov. 2.