Wu-Tang 25: Quarter Century of Shaolin is a year-long series celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

Released November 2, 2012

Released April 14, 2015

First of all, just watch this opening scene from the first movie.

If that’s not a microcosm of who RZA is, then I don’t know what is. 

The Man with the Iron Fists movies are arguably, the biggest flex of power and influence Wu-Tang has ever done. A video game, a TV sitcom, hosting a battle-rap tv show and even How High aren’t as big of feats of accomplishment as Iron Fists. Here’s why.

Prior to the first movie, what was the last big-budget, Hollywood-backed martial arts movie that was theaters? Kill Bill Vol. 1? Even that answer is questionable due to the genre mixing that happened. A martial arts movie that is heavily-inspired by martial arts movies of the 70’s and 80’s being widely released as it was makes this an impressive feat alone. Don’t forget that the director of Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino got a “Presents” credit and Eli Roth worked on the screenplay as well. Then throw in the fact that this is RZA’s debut as a director and he was a member of the main cast. Speaking of the cast, what an ensemble. Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Dave Bautista, and Jamie Chung. Watching the movie for the first time in theaters, it was amazing see the level of talent that RZA was able to get. In re-watching it, it becomes even more jaw-dropping knowing what kind of careers Bautista and Jamie Chung ended up having after this movie. 

I can’t say that this is a “good” movie. It’s borderline confusing with its plot, RZA is the only one with any sort of character development, and if you watch the unrated version, the movie drags on longer than it should’ve. That being said, I still enjoy this movie. Not only because of the reasons previously mentioned, but also it achieves that it aims to be. A fun, over-the-top martial arts movie. 

Then we get the second movie. Unfortunately, the first movie barely made its budget back. So the second movie was a direct-to-video release. Suffice to say, it’s not as fun as the first one. With a whole change in cast, it doesn’t have the same scene-chewing and self-awareness that made the first movie work (other than how Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s character dies, that was funny). It takes itself too-seriously and ends up being forgettable. 

With that being said, I still argue that RZA getting both of these movies created is the most impressive thing someone from the Wu was able to do with that association. I particularly love that these movie are clearly a RZA vision. Ever since his five year plan was carried out, there was no doubt that he can see something to the end. I keep thinking about that opening scene. It’s everything RZA ever rapped, wrote, talked about when discussing his upbringing and the origins of the Wu. He came full circle.  I was so happy sitting in that theater for the first time watching that scene. It felt like the RZA was sitting right next to me geeking out over his movie. 

Next Chamber: Ghostface’s Discography