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The RZA's Kung-Fu Inspirations Behind The Man With The Iron Fists

When RZA, the de facto head of rap supergroup the Wu-Tang Clan, revealed in 2012 that he was making a Chinese-inspired martial arts action movie, it came as no big surprise. At least, the film's genre wasn't a surprise. Old Kung-Fu movies have practically been the Wu-Tang aesthetic from day one. Even the group's name is a reference to the classic film "Shaolin and Wu Tang," and the name of their first album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) harkens back to "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin." The fact that RZA would follow a similar direction with his own movie, "The Man With the Iron Fists," simply wasn't a shock.

Still, it's interesting to see which films RZA specifically chose as reference material for the film. Martial arts films are a pretty big genre, and there are some deep cuts that RZA could have taken inspiration from. More often than not, however, the Kung-Fu inspirations that RZA took for "The Man with the Iron Fists" are among some of the more famous and acclaimed Kung-Fu-flicks.

RZA took elements from Five Deadly Venoms and 36 Chambers

In making the 2012 film "The Man with the Iron Fists," RZA aimed to make a Chinese martial arts film with an American tone. And for that, RZA and his collaborators reached for some of the standout titles in Kung-Fu flick history.

"In 'Five Deadly Venoms,' there's a character called the Toad, he supposedly has impenetrable skin," RZA said in an interview with IndieWire. "You don't see that. You've gotta just go with this idea. But in my movie, I have Brass Body. I made it so that his chi energy is so strong that he turns his full body into brass, so it's not so esoteric, it's more superhero-ish."

"Five Deadly Venoms" is a certified Kung-Fu classic to be certain, and RZA has previously pulled samples from for in the Wu-Tang Clan song, "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'," but it's not the only martial arts film to leave an imprint on RZA's movie. Gordon Liu, the martial arts superstar who earned his fame starring in films like "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" and "Shaolin and Wu Tang," also makes an appearance in the film. He plays the Abbot of a Buddhist monastery that trains RZA's character in the ways of Kung Fu.