Wu-Tang fans are familiar with RZA’s production wizardry, sword-sharp lyrical skills and penchant for all things Kung Fu.
From the beginning, the group’s leader has shared his passion for martial arts in cinema with the world, and now, audiences can take part in his own offering to the genre through his directorial debut, The Man with the Iron Fists.
With his new film now in theaters, RZA chopped it up with HHW about the film’s high-flying action, advice he got from Quentin Tarantino and Russell Crowe, and a special warning he was given by Denzel Washington, whose latest film, Flight, also lands in theaters this week.
HHW: First off, The Man with the Iron Fists looks insane. How many gallons of fake blood were used in the making of this film?
RZA: We ran through fire extinguishers full of blood. They would literally put the blood in fire extinguishers and it would spray out.
HHW: Tell me about your character, The Blacksmith.
RZA: He’s a humble guy with a special skill. People come to him for his weapons, because they’re the best. In the film, he doesn’t really want to make weapons, but in the place he lives that’s what the market calls for, so he fulfills the demand … To me, the iron fists are metaphoric of all the characters and their ruthlessness. Their roughness.
HHW: The iron fists are also a weapon in the film, which begs the question: Exactly what would an uppercut from a man with iron fists feel like?
RZA: Like a f—-in … like four sledgehammers against your chin, yo. The good thing about that weapon is he mixes certain elements together to make the iron fists … but he put in a secret ingredient that you can only find out about by seeing the movie.
HHW: You’ve made friends with Quentin Tarantino and Russell Crowe — two of Hollywood’s biggest names. They both played a role in this film, Tarantino behind the scenes and Crowe on camera. What advice did either of them give you for your directorial debut?
RZA: Quentin’s mentored me for years, so I came in with tons of advice from him. As far as Russell, he basically told me that this is a big deal. This is a prizefight, and he brought that to my attention. He’s a major star but he has never directed a film, but he wants to … so for me to direct a film and I’m not a filmmaker, it’s a big deal. He wanted me to be sure I never lost my focus.
HHW: You and Russell go back a few years now. You helped him arrest Denzel Washington in American Gangster. That was a powerful scene. What was that like?
RZA: First of all, everybody in my family loves Denzel. Everybody. So to be on a film with him made me feel like there was a chance for me to have success in Hollywood. It was a proud moment for me. But he did say this to me at the red carpet premiere, “RZA … you know the whole hood gonna be mad at you for takin’ me down.” That was some funny sh–.
Peep the full interview in the current edition of HHW, on newsstands now, and find out which British singer was inspired to make music after seeing a sneak preview of The Man with the Iron Fists!!!