The RZA has never been satisfied with doing just one thing. After conquering the New York City hip-hop scene in the mid-nineties, the native Brooklynite immediately began venturing out into other fields. He began acting for prominent art house directors, writing the theology of the Wu Tang Clan, and scoring films. In 2012, he put it all together with his directorial debut “The Man With The Iron Fists,” which RZA also wrote and scored. Now, RZA’s blacksmith character has returned in “The Man With The Iron Fists 2,” which will be released digitally and on blu-ray on April 14th.
Maxim spoke with RZA about his training regimen, how he became interested in the martial arts, and the future of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,” the Wu-Tang album that caused controversy earlier this year after it was announced that it wouldn’t be released for 88 years.
What did you do to train for your role in the film?
Well, I’m one of those guys who learn martial arts from watching the movies. You know what I mean, come home and try the tricks you see on the screen. Of course in 1995, I had the chance to meet a Shaolin Monk named Shi Yan Ming. He’s 34th generation and he defected from China to America. He formed a school called USA Shaolin Temple in New York City and I became his student. He taught. When I was young, I bought a manual called “The Tiger/Crane Form of Hung Gar Kung-Fu.” Just from the photos in the books, I would practice that. I bought that and ODB bought Snake and Monkey style and we would just practice like two crazy kids. But years later when I did Iron Fist 1, I had a chance to go to China. I had about 14 weeks of prepping for that movie, and they hired a Hung Gar master to teach me the form for real. You’ll notice that most of my moves are very upper body Hung Gar style type of training.
So when you do your stunts in the film is that actually you?
Yeah, I do a lot of my own stunts. Of course I have a stunt man if things get stupid, but I like to try and do it. That’s why it’s not as accurate as some of the Asian brothers when they’re doing it. You can see some of my clumsiness, but I think the character would be kind of clumsy, you know? So I always go through the moves. If the director wants to have a stuntman do it after me, that’s up to him. I go through it about four or five times myself, because it’s like “Yo, it’s all good.” I get a little scratch here, a little scratch there but it’s all good.
What has been the reception overseas for these films?
I haven’t been over since the film came out actually. I’ve kind of been in Hollywood a lot just working on films. …read more
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