RZA attends “The Man With Iron Fists” New York Special Screening at Lighthouse International Theater on October 27, 2012 in New York City
*Rapper-turned-director Rza has signed on to direct a biopic about Mongol Empire leader Genghis Khan, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Wu-Tang Clan frontman, whose directorial debut “The Man With the Iron Fists” opens Friday, will tackle the life story of the great 13th century emperor, based on a script years in the making by Apocalypse Now screenwriter John Milius.
Milius had once been tapped to direct the film himself, while Mickey Rourke had also previously been linked to a leading role.
Casting details have yet to be announced, but production is expected to begin in China next year.
Rza has also signed on for two additional projects. He’ll team with comic book icon Grant Morrison to adapt his latest graphic novel, “Happy!,” for the big screen, and he’s also set to direct the diamond heist action thriller “No Man’s Land.”
What exactly made Rza of the Wu Tang Clan think he had the “chops” to direct a cast of seasoned veterans – including an Academy Award winner – in a Kung Fu film that he also co-wrote?
“Having that level of talent trust me and us to have a mutual trust back and forth was a challenge,” admits the MC, who makes his directing debut with the Nov. 2 opening of “The Man with the Iron Fists,” co-starring Oscar winner and three-time nominee Russell Crowe.
“I’m not just playing with any old Joe Schmos,” Rza continues. “I got some of the best in the world coming to represent with me and you wanna protect that. You wanna protect that and make sure that everybody really feels comfortable that they’re not being made to be a buffoon or a joke.”
Rza directs Russell Crowe (L) in “The Man with the Iron Fists”
Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung and Pam Grier also star in the action flick, which features Rza as The Blacksmith and follows his attempts to defend himself and his fellow villagers against a crew of assassins in feudal China. The humble Blacksmith takes them on with assistance from Zen Yi (Yune), the son of a warlord who sets out to avenge his father’s assassination; and blade enthusiast Jack Knife (Crowe), a character inspired by late Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
“Russell is a master actor, there’s no question about that,” Rza told us during recent interviews for the film in Los Angeles. “But this particular character is fiction. [Crowe] went and did some research for the times and to find out how the British were and things of that nature. But ODB was the case study for the character. And you know how nasty Ol’ Dirty was.
“[ODB] was, I would say, the soul of Jack Knife, but Russell is a master actor. And whether he’s adding his ideas, or whether we’re giving him something to do spontaneous, he just syncs right in.”
Below, Rza, born Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, explains how he as a first-time director was able to gain the trust of his experienced actors.
The kung fu flick, directed, co-written and co-starring Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, is set in 19th century China, where The Blacksmith (RZA) is forced to come to the defense of his fellow villagers. Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and Cung Le also star.
Quentin Tarantino literally lent his name to the project, agreeing to help out with a “presented by” credit.
The film is scheduled for release on Nov. 2, 2012. Watch the trailer below.
The plan, according to the website, is for the duo to direct and produce the material and possibly create their own company. At least one of those projects could be in the superhero genre, Deadline is told, based on Hudlin’s comic book past.
The former BET President and “House Party” director wrote “The Black Panther” series for Marvel from 2005 to 2008. “The Black Panther,” a modern day African chief and past Avengers member in the Marvel universe, has been rumored repeatedly as a possible upcoming feature as Marvel expands its successful onscreen properties.
As previously reported, tapper RZA’s feature directorial debut “The Man With The Iron Fists” was given a Nov. 2 release date by Universal Pictures. The martial arts film, shot in China, was produced by Quentin Tarantino from a script by Eli Roth and RZA.
*Universal Pictures revealed today it will release “The Man With The Iron Fists,” directed and co-written by Rza of the Wu-Tang Clan, on Friday, November 2, reports Deadline.com. [Scroll down to watch the trailer.]
*Fresh from last week’s appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” screen legend Pam Grier has announced that she is among the cast of kung fu flick “The Man with the Iron Fists,” a $20 million project from Wu Tang Clan’s RZA and director Eli Roth, reports Twitchhfilm.
Grier broke the news on her Twitter account, stating she has already finished filming her scenes and has just returned from the set in Shanghai.
Grier joins Lucy Liu, wrestler Dave Bautista, MMA fighter Cung Le and Oscar winner Russell Crowe in the story of a blacksmith (RZA) in feudal China who makes weapons for a small village which is forced to defend itself.
Grier appeared on Oprah’s “Whatever Happened To…” episode last week, which also featured MC Hammer and Bo Derek.