If you missed numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in this series (Andrew Dosunmu's Ma'George, Shola Lynch's Free Angela, Byron Hurt's Soul Food Junkies, Dyana Gaye's Des Etoiles, and Rodney Evans' The Happy Sad) click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
Here's number 6…
RZA's The Man With The Iron Fists – the rapper turned actor/director's feature film directorial debut, and likely the highest profile project that'll be featured in this series.
It stars RZA himself, Russell Crowe, Pam Grier, Lucy Liu and others; Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth served as producers on this $20 million project.
RZA's been awfully quiet about his feature debut, which wrapped principal photography over a year ago, as far as I know and, per recent interviews with cast members, posted earlier this year, is actually mostly cut, as RZA was said to still be putting the soundtrack together at the time.
He hasn't said much about it, other than the little we already know (synopsis, cast, the basics); we have no definite release date, seen no stills, no clips, not a damn thing.
And yet, we're excited about it. Why?
It's likely an excitement that stems from curiousity… the mystery of it all.
It's really a mystery at this point what this is going to look, sound and feel like, given that we have nothing to go on except RZA's past work on and off screen (which hasn't been much), his music, the cast, the plot, and the notable names shepherding the project.
RZA learned from Tarantino, shadowing him on film sets, with Roth assisting in suring up the script. What could RZA have taken from the other 2 gentlemen and blended into his work, or how much influence they had on RZA's choices, is unknown. But, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dying to find out.
Add to that all the nuggets dropped by cast memners over the last year or so, like Pam Grier:
"I play RZA's mother, in the mid-1800s… My character gives up her freedom to save her son. It basically starts out his journey, to a new land. It was very, very moving. Shooting in China was extraordinary. The people were so warm and so smart… Wait until The Man with the Iron Fist comes out. RZA is a martial artist, and he's a fantastic martial artist in the film. He's excellent."
And from co-producer Eli Roth who described the film as "a kung fu Star Wars movie," adding that Russell Crowe plays is named Jacknife, and that since Crowe isn't asked to carry the film (as the most recognizable actor in it), he was "free just to step in and go completely insane… he just went wild with it… You think he is just a stranger passing through town, but in the opening scene, Crowe makes a very big statement with his knife."
And then there was RZA himself in an interview with HipHopDX, suggesting that the film was essentially an homage to Blaxploitation cinema and Kung-Fu movies, and the the film kind of brings the two together:
I have a centerpiece of Blaxploitation in the film; obviously that was a big 70’s genre. I also have Gordon Liu, the Master Killer himself, who was a centerpiece of the Kung-Fu genre. The funniest part for me though, was that I got a character from Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon. In that movie, Bruce Lee is trying to protect the restaurant, and there’s an old white man trying to take over his business. And I cast him in The Man with the Iron Fists, just for that reason. Jon [Jon T. Benn] is in the movie! We had other choices, but when I found out we could get him, it was like, “Oh no. I want this motherfucker!” He’s one of the first villains that I had ever seen watching Bruce Lee movies. He came in wanting to buy the restaurant, and he was just really discriminating. And in my film he plays a character that’s similar…it’s someone with power. So we’ve got them as well as more modern actors in sort of a mashup. I’ve always been a fan of different genres, and even my production was a sort of mashup before people were even calling them that. Now in film, I’m striving to do the same thing. You get a wide range of characters, and attempt to blend them and make something new and unique.
So there's a Blaxploitation centerpiece in the film, he got Jon T. Benn to do the movie to play a baddie with power, and we'll be treated to (hopefully) something fresh, given the mashup of different types of characters, filmmaking styles and maybe even genres. Sounds like a Tarantino movie, so maybe that's where the Tarantino influence manifests.
As for a release date, I suspect it's a film that will be out sometime in 2012. I recall THIS Huffington Post piece on RZA's appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson last fall, during which RZA talked about the film, and there was mention of a release date of October 2012. No specific day, just October 2012.
No verification from Universal Pictures, the studio handling the film, and nothing listed on IMDB yet either.
And if that does indeed turn out to be the date, it means we don't have long to wait for it, and will hopefully see some media soon.
Maybe we can consider the fact that it's taken so long to finally see anything of the project as a good sign, suggesting that RZa is taking his time with it, and is trying to produce the best film possible.
But if anyone reading this has an update on it, shout!