RZA talks The Man With the Iron Fists
Robert “Bobby” Fitzgerald Diggs, better known as The RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, will be making his directorial as well as leading man debut with The Man With the Iron Fists, in theaters November 2nd. A self-proclaimed student of Quentin Tarantino, RZA has learned from the best and applied his lessons to the new kung fu film he co-wrote with Eli Roth and that Tarantino is producing.
RZA’s work with Tarantino began when he compiled the score for the critically-acclaimed martial arts film, Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Now that he has proven himself a talented composer and actor, RZA has gotten the chance to direct a film inspired by the kung fu films he grew up watching.
Before his concert at Warehouse Live last night, RZA sat down with members of the press to talk about his new film.
AG: So this is your directorial debut. Congratulations!
RZA: Thank you.
AG: What kind of director do you want to be known as?
RZA: A serious director, a person that really can take a story, put it on this big screen, and entertain the audience. You see many movies that come out every year, and sometimes we feel cheated out of our $12. I’m a movie buff; I go to the movies. When I’m home, every Wednesday is movie day, for me and my wife. That’s what we do, and it’s hard to waver from that. Sometimes we go, and I’m entertained. But a lot of times, I’m like… especially her, she’s like… (makes mad face). You know what I mean? And if she doesn’t like something, you know, that really gets me. I want to be able to make movies that entertain, first and foremost. That happens sometimes with comedy. It can be stupid. No disrespect, I’m not going to say this movie is stupid, because I love this movie, but look at Pineapple Express. It just has fun. It’s ridiculous, but those 95 minutes you spent, you can’t even recall what the movie was about. All you know is that you had fun. So I want to be a guy that makes films that are entertaining and fun.
AG: What do you want people to feel when they listen to the movie as well watch it?
RZA: Well, I’m from the old school, as they say. I’m a record collector. When I collect the soundtracks from the 70s, like Shaft or Claudine or Super Fly, the music matches the film. You can put the album on and almost see the film in your head. So when I did Ghost Dog, I took it the same way. Now, with The Man with the Iron Fists, you should be able to put the CD in, or download it to your computer, whatever you do, and envision the film. I had a writer talk to me in D.C. who got an early copy of the score and soundtrack, and he said he thought he saw the movie! (laughs) He’s like, “I saw the movie,” and I was like, “Well, I guess it worked.” The main plan for a score or soundtrack is to make you feel like you’re getting that movie experience again in your car.
AG: If you could take one movie that’s not in the kung fu or martial arts genre and make it into a kung fu movie, which one would it be?
RZA: Oh, that’s a good one. I won’t be able to answer that one right off the top. I’m going to have to think about that one for a little bit.
AG: For those who have never watched the kung fu films that you watched growing up, what kind of impression do you want to leave on that audience with this film?
RZA: First of all, I think this is a good film even if you take all the kung fu out. You’ve got a good film. But I would love for all the people who have never watched kung fu, who don’t know the genre, to find a love for this stuff, you know? I would love young people to feel like, even though this movie is…it’s Eli Roth, so you know we’ve got some gore, but I would love for young people to fight with their hands, to love martial arts. When The Karate Kid came out, there was a boom in people joining karate schools, and in the Bruce Lee days there was a boom of it, too. Hopefully this movie can spark it, because the gun violence and all that stuff that’s happening out there is ridiculous. When I was a kid, we had Saturday Morning Kung Fu Theater. You guys don’t got that no more. But it’s in some of those movies that you find loyalty, brotherhood, sacrifice, fight oppression, as well as some cool ass-kicking. That’s missing. I think that this film is a film to bring it back. Only instead of Saturday mornings, it’ll be Friday and Saturday nights, but I would love to see more of this. When Kill Bill came out – did we all like Kill Bill here? Yes? (laughs) Right. That was the last American film that focused on martial arts. That’s the last one that had real money, real people in it. Here’s the next one. I don’t think they should be this far apart. Even when I decided to do the movie, when I told Quentin [Tarantino] that I was ready to be a director, he gave me some advice. He said, “Maybe you should start with a small movie with a certain amount of money, and just do something simple.” I didn’t. I went for the big one, you know what I mean? Because I noticed, and not just on a commercial level, I said, “Quentin, when we did Kill Bill, it was successful. Everybody saw it, you made a couple hundred million dollars with it, and yet now, we can’t even get a kung fu movie, like when Curse of the Golden Flower came out, it couldn’t even play on 100 screens! So, there’s a market for people who are hungry for this stuff. If you don’t fulfill it, then let your student do it.” He said, “Okay, you take it.” He’s going on to other things, so I said, “I’d love to take over that genre with The Man with the Iron Fists. It’s the only kind of film I want to make. I’ve got a lot of ideas, but if I only made these kind of films, I’d still be satisfied.”