Bullet Points: Iron Protector
It’s always nice to get a movie recommendation that doesn’t turn out to be complete shit. Too often I hear about these movies that are “full of amazing fight scenes” only to find it’s nothing more than some Paul Greengrass super-edited rubbish where the lead actor can barely stand on one foot, let alone roundhouse kick a man so hard his ankles break in two.
There certainly isn’t an abundance of great fighting movies coming out these days so any chance I get to watch a new one starring a new actor/director. It’s only Yue Song’s second film and I’m already getting good feelings from looking at the poster. Let’s just say that after watching the trailer I entered this film with extreme excitement.
Synopsis: After the death of his master, Wu-Lin (Yue Song) moves to the big city and seeks out the companionship of a former “brother” of his named Jiang Li (Xing Wu). Li owns a prestigious private bodyguard company and it isn’t long until Wu-Lin is protecting the beautiful and wealthy daughter of a very wanted man. All of Wu-Lin’s skills are put to the test when a legion of bad guys fall upon him and the lovely girl.
- Old School: While Iron Protector (also called The Bodyguard) is a new film, just released in 2016, it has a very old school flavor. Part of that is because the plot is very simple and part is that most of what happens in the film is something we’ve already seen. Two young martial arts practitioners are envious of one another and vie for the attention of the master…a rural badass moves to the big city and is a “fish out of water” amongst all the civilized folk. Not much in the first 2/3’s of the film feels new but that isn’t exactly a deal breaker for an action movie. Think about how many great Die Hard rip-offs there are!
- How Convenient: Wu-Lin appears and almost immediately runs into his old buddy who now runs a company for bodyguards. What better job for a mindless ass-kicking machine than to be a bodyguard? Most of the great action stars of yesteryear played a bodyguard at some point and despite his not so great attire, he makes for a pretty good guardian.
- Reading Material: We never get a chance to read “The Book of 108 Kicks” that Wu-Lin had been given by his master, but I’m really hoping that it had excellent illustrations. Jiang Li never got over the fact that Wu-Lin became the disciple of their former master and not him. It’s a great reason for him to be salty about the whole situation because I don’t know what The Book of 108 Kicks is and I want to read it.
- Iron Boots: Wu-Lin wears a pair of 25 kilo boots. He’s been wearing them for 8 years and still has two more to go. I wear steel-toed boots everyday and I get sick of them!
- Time Check: About halfway through the movie it feels like there is some drag. We’ve learned of a small rift between Wu-Lin and Jiang Li and anyone who has ever seen a movie can tell that Jiang Li and is entire company of men in black suits are going to be the bad guys. Wu-Lin and the beautiful young lady are starting to hit it off and it’s coming off like the romance in Star Wars: Episode 2….not an all-time great romance. At some point I think Yue Song looked at the amount of footage shot and realized he needed to start upping the action. From this point on the action is downright nasty….in a good way.
- Good God, Almighty: There are a few small scenes throughout the first half of the film but once the action starts you will know it. Wu-Lin is suddenly attacked by a cornucopia of henchmen of all shapes and sizes. Wu-Lin gets his legs chained together and beaten to a bloody pulp. It’s only after he’s run over by a car, thrown through a brick wall, beaten with shovels, and buried alive that he’s finally left for dead. They should have known that a man who wears a leather trench coat wouldn’t stay down for long.
- The Sheer Beauty of a Chaotic Mauling: Yue Song doesn’t have an amazing eye for directing. It’s clear that his directing of the non-fight scenes is probably the worst thing about Iron Protector. The dialogue and story, in general, also aren’t the best. What is an absolute marvel about Iron Protector is the final third of the film where Wu-Lin shows up to rescue his lovely friend. It’s an incredible mess of fighting between Song and no less than 40 men. I’ve seen Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and Tony Jaa; pretty much all the greats of martial arts, take on vast numbers of men at the same time and I can’t think of one more impressive than the scene of Yue Song taking on these men. Whatever your thoughts are on the rest of the film, this scene makes it more than worth your while.
You won’t need to fight 50 trained martial artists or wear iron boots to fill your brain with these bonus Bullet Points:
- Another hero with his heart on the other side of his body! What are the chances?
- Wu-Lin breaks out a Van Damme level of awesome splits. It’s amazing!
- Wearing a pair of boots for 8 years…his feet must smell like hot garbage.
- The slow motion strike scenes are absolutely brutal and fantastic.
The Verdict: Iron Protector reminds me a lot of the Hong Kong martial arts movies that I spent a considerable amount of time watching as a youngster. Star Yue Song is new to me but I’m hoping this won’t be the last time I see him pummel dozens of helpless henchmen on screen. Iron Protector isn’t a long movie and because it’s not exactly a movie that is going to wow you with twists or interesting dialogue, it’s the perfect length. Yue Song has some way to go in terms of direction and the music, at times, seems to be a bit off, but the film was an absolute joy to watch. I thought the fight scenes were among the best I’ve seen in a few years and the stunt team and Song did some crazy shit to get the scenes done. The credits scene reminded me of a Jackie Chan movie. It shows all the times that the actors and crew got their asses kicked or almost died while filming a scene. The freaking dedication by the cast and crew just make me more bitter when I think about the pretty boy action stars we get here in Hollywood. If you’re a fan a martial arts movies then you’ll love it.
A special thanks to @ThrashusMaximus for the recommendation. He has good taste!