Channel 4: 20 November, 1.00am
This has already its premiere on Film4, but it’s worth missing again. Consider the facts: that’s rapper-turned-actor RZA as the village blacksmith caught up in clan warfare in feudal 19th-century China. RZA also wrote and directed this tatty tribute to the silly Shaw Bros’ Hong Kong action flicks of the 60s and 70s. He narrates the story too.
And provides the music. Fanboy amateurs really shouldn’t be encouraged but Quentin Tarantino gave it his seal of approval by ‘presenting’ the picture. Which should be warning – or invitation – enough. Small children might think it awesome but, then again, they really shouldn’t be watching it.
There’s a hilarious black-and-white flashback to RZA’s ‘Django’ days and, in some kind of poncho, Russell Crowe shows up as a British adventurer under the influence of opium. He calls himself Jack Knife. “A real English gentleman,” notes brothel madame Lucy Liu, approvingly. “The gentlest,” leers Crowe. Apparently imitating Oliver Reed, he comes over as threatening as Terry-Thomas. That’s some comedown from Gladiator.
It’s his Aeon Flux moment. Although far from being discouraged, RZA released an extra footage director’s cut (running 108m) and went on to make The Man with the Iron Fists 2, a sequel with ‘video bin’ written all over it. It certainly never made it to cinemas.