As one of the founding members of The Wu-Tang Clan, The RZA is an iconic face in the world of hip-hop, but he’s proved over the years that he’s no one-trick-pony. Not only has he produced and performed for over 20 years, but he has also branched out as an author, filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor. RZA has certainly applied the Wu-Tang financial model of diversity to his career. We spoke with him recently about the release of his second screenwriting venture, The Man With The Iron Fists 2, which he also stars in.
The Nerdist: RZA, thank you for talking to us today. We are quite excited about seeing Man With The Iron Fists 2.
The RZA: Yeah, I really hope you enjoy it.
N: In terms of that movie, why did you decide to have Roel Reyné direct this time around?
RZA: Well, I wrote the movie close to a year before we started filming, and at the time I had just finished doing a TV show. So, we talked about the timeline of doing the movie and I felt it was too much to take on, to direct it and be in it, at that time. So, we interviewed some directors to see if maybe someone else could bring something to the table on it. So, they sent some directors over, and Roel had done a film called Dead In Tombstone and it was cool. The cinematography was really cool and I liked the way he had it looking. I had met Roel two years prior on another project we were thinking about doing together so when he came up to be the director I was comfortable with him already. I like him as a director, I like his energy, and it was just very cool for me to be able to let that go and put it in someone else’s hands and focus more on acting and being this character.
N: What did you base Thaddeus’s fighting style on and what kind of training did you have to go through for the role?
RZA: Well the style that I really used for the character is called Hung Ga, and it is a very upper-body Tiger style of Kung-Fu. I think that fits him. I did a little bit more training this time, and tried to incorporate some kicks into his fights, but I didn’t think that was as fitting to the character to be honest with you. So Hung Ga is his basic form and even though we tried to add some things in, the strikes almost always ended up being a Hung Ga strike.
N: How much of a gap is there between the stories of these two films?
RZA: I would say there is at least five years. Thaddeus stayed in Jungle Village to help out, and Zen-Yi comes back to take him on another mission. There are about two stories that actually happen to Thaddeus before he decides to go back to Wu-Chi Temple. He has had so much death in his life that he just wanted to go back and redeem himself and find his inner peace. In part one he goes to the temple, he finds himself, he cuts his hair, and that was the best time of his life, ya know? The simple life. So, he wanted to go back to that, but it didn’t work.
N: Will we ever see the stories that take place between the two movies, or possibly see the series made into a trilogy?
RZA: I like this character a lot. If this character could live on, whether through film or comic books or whatever, I would love it. I have such a love for him and all the martial arts films that inspired him. I would love to continue telling stories through this character’s eyes. I want to point out something interesting about the new story. One of the first things that got me into Asian culture was when I was able to see a movie called The 36th Chamber [of Shaolin] and I also saw this oppression of government, and college kids getting killed for what they thought, and believed, and it was based on a true story of something that happened in China 500 years ago or so and it really rang true to things that happened in our country; in any country. Whether it’s Tiananmen Square or whatever. The thing is oppression exists everywhere. So, in part two of Iron Fists, Thaddeus is up in the town and everyone who lives in this town has to work in a silver mine. I mean they are working all day, the conditions are poor, and they get whipped and beat to do it. So, he’s talking to one of the other characters in the film, and this character is describing what the people in the town go through, and Thaddeus tells him “We may be from different places, but we have more in common than we know.” It just goes to show you could be halfway across the world and still face the same things.
N: RZA, we feel you would be the right person to finally answer a question that has plagued us for ages: Is The Wu-Tang Clan something to f*** with?
RZA: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to f*** with. [Laughs] I’ll tell you, something, though, keep Wu-Tang in your life. Wu-Tang is a great form of art.
(Image: New York Times)
N: What other projects do you have coming up?
RZA: Well right now, like I said, I want the fans to enjoy Man With The Iron Fists 2. After that I am really prepping myself to get back behind the camera again and bring another story to the world through the vision of The RZA, know what I mean? Music-wise, I guess I can confess this to you real quick. There is a record that people think is a myth, called A Chosen, that I just want to say it exists, it is finished, and I think we are going to release it this summer through a special outlet. It’s a very special album, man, there is a lot of consciousness and unique hip-hop word play that you don’t see anymore. The fun of hip-hop has kind of disappeared, and I mean fun-fun, you know, just having fun with words. Think of a song like UTFO’s “Split Personality,” or The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. A lot of that kind of hip-hop has gone away, and on this A Chosen album brings some of that back.
The Man With The Iron Fists 2 is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital HD. Did you see the first one? Plan on seeing the second one? Let us know in the comments below.