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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TV Review: #IronFist Hardcore enough to sit through

Hardcore enough to sit through

Rama is back.

Here’s my review of Marvel’s new Netflix series, “Iron Fist,” and since I didn’t grow up reading Roy Thomas and Gil Kane’s comic books, nor was I familiar with it, this review is more from the perspective of a fan who’s binge-watched all 13 episodes as opposed to making comparisons and trying to finding out whether or not the adaptation is faithful to the material.

Let me just say that of all the shows that Marvel Television and Netflix have given us since this whole ambitious “Defenders” plan started, my favorite remains “Jessica Jones,” and although “Iron Fist” is not their best work, it’s still engaging and hardcore enough to sit through.

Finn Jones plays Danny Rand, a man who for fifteen years has been presumed dead in a plane crash. His parents died in the crash, he ended up in a monastery where he received training. He returns to New York City to reclaim his birthright, to reconnect with his past. There he also meets Jessica Henwick’s character, Colleen Wing who teaches martial arts to troubled kids. Things get complicated when a long-destined enemy rises in New York in addition to the corruption within the Rand company. Danny Rand must choose between pursuing the truth behind his family’s dark legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist.

Danny Rand consistently finds himself between a rock and a hard place, I think the writers do an excellent job of making Rand’s world so complex that there are just so many moving parts in the overarching story. Through many of the episodes, two things are mostly happening before they both collide again at the end. On one hand, Danny and Colleen with the help of Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) are on this mission to uncover The Hand’s syndicate, meanwhile on the other hand, there’s this very fascinating dysfunctional family drama in the Meachums. I personally am more drawn to the dysfunctional drama, the way the story cleverly tries to get us to side with or be against either one of them. It’s as if the Meachums have won the award for the most screwed up family in New York City. So “Iron Fist” is essentially part conspiracy, part kung fu, part corporate corruption, part family drama.

The fight choreographies, in my opinion, at times seems inventive especially between Danny Rand and The Hand’s leader, Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez). But other times, they appear to be too simplistic. Perhaps it’s because of the way they’re shot or maybe how the actors are just not in sync in their “dance” not too mention some of the fights are just not well-lit, it may have to do with each of the episodes’ directors’ creative choices, but they certainly are not able to top Daredevil’s one-take fight sequence. I’m not too stoked of having Claire Temple play that big a part in this one. At times she can be helpful but there are times when she just seems like a third wheel, excess baggage, although I do understand the show’s need for having someone to be Danny Rand’s voice of reason.

When I first noticed Finn Jones in “Game of Thrones,” I didn’t think I saw a leading man but I suppose that’s why I don’t have the eye to become a casting agent. In my opinion, Jones does a fine job as Danny Rand. I think he overexerts himself in some of the emotional scenes, but other than that, his acting is just fine for what the role requires, the same goes with Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing. Kudos to the both of them on the physically demanding scenes. A real martial artist fan out there can probably tell whether or not their martial moves, stances, and styles are convincing enough but for what it’s worth, they work just fine. David Wenham is solid as the villain, Harold Meachum. Wenham understands that his character is not just manipulative, he also has gravitas in his intimidation, a man who has a way with words, an elite class sociopath who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, Wenham plays it with such precision.

I’m beginning to see a pattern in these Marvel’s Netflix shows, halfway through you notice that what you first thought was the ultimate bad guy suddenly gets replaced by another bad guy but then you realize that the first bad guy's influence still lingers. And although “Iron Fist”s tone or approach leans heavily on the philosophical side, you can count the many fortune cookie lines in the dialogues, I’m still curious to see how this latest piece fits in the grand scheme of things when “The Defenders” ultimately assemble.

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