When we last saw Danny Rand he dropped a bomb on the Meachums with proof he was, in fact, Danny Rand. A fingerprint at the bottom of a candy dish left by wee lad Rand was going to save the day! Except, it didn’t save anything. It didn’t have to save the day.
Three episodes were spent on whether he was or wasn’t Danny Rand. Three boring episodes all down the drain and why? Because Harold Meachum, who’s really running things at Rand Enterprises, said to bring him into the fold. Why?
Meachum offers a weak excuse about being in debt to the Hand. He didn’t seem to know who or what the Hand was when he was questioning a drugged up Rand and didn’t seem to know what the cryptic message on the outside of his window meant- the message signed with a hand (cue sinister music).
Now that Daddy Meachum needs Rand he knows what the Hand is all about (It’s a miracle!). It turns out Meachum is in debt to the Hand for saving his life, but they’ve also infiltrated the company. Of course, Meachum didn’t know this was happening and now needs Rand’s kung fu fighting skills to help kick them out of the company.
The only person Harold Meachum has convinced he’s being honest is Danny Rand. The rest of us know he’s up to something a little more sinister. We know Meachum is up to something because it’s a Marvel series, you can tell the bad guys from a mile away. We can also tell because David Wenham (Dilios in 300) delivers the whole scene like he’s reading off cue cards. The bad acting is probably why it seems like Meachum didn’t know what the Hand was when he actually knew the Hand. It’s unbelievable, but most of the acting in Iron Fist is unconvincing.
FILE UNDER BAD CASTING CHOICE
By now EVERYONE knows Finn Jones was in Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. In Thrones, Jones was convincing as Tyrell- the gay knight who went boom after converting to the High Sparrow’s twisted religion. However, something happened between being blown up in GoT and being re-born as Buddhist warrior monk.
Finn isn’t convincing as a monk, as a super kung fu master, or anything else in Iron Fist. His lines are flat and delivered with little to no emotion. It’s difficult to know if we should take him seriously or laugh when he says things like, “You are really pushing the limits of karma.” The cheesy lines writers have given him to work with don’t help Iron Fist’s watchability.
Finn’s also on the skinny with no muscle tone. The body critique may be a bit nitpicky, but this is the Marvel television/cinematic universe. Everyone is buff. Marvel Studios even packed the weight and muscle on Paul Rudd for Ant-Man. You can practically see Finn’s chest sinking into itself. Maybe monks aren’t supposed to be jacked and ripped. Maybe kung fu warriors aren’t supposed to be ripped. Maybe Bruce Lee, no slouch in the martial arts department, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, and many others just got it worng.
CAN THE ACTING GET ANY WORSE? COLLEEN WING STEPS IN.
What’s with the Game of Thrones alumni finding their way into Iron Fist? Henwick plays Nymeria Sand, one of the Sand Warriors. She should have a bigger in the upcoming season, but Thrones is famous for dangling things in fans’ faces only to yank it away. So, who knows if she will or not. Her past scenes have been brief so it’s a little more difficult to judge her work in Thrones against Fist. Regardless of her screen time in Thrones, Henwick’s screen time in Iron Fist is wanting.
Henwick, like Finn, isn’t believable as a martial arts master. Maybe it’s because we don’t see a lot of those skills on display in the first three episodes. She demonstrates a little more of those martial arts skills in episodes six through eight, but not too much more (Claire Temple even saves her in one scene). Maybe she’s not believable because she suffers from the same acting disabilities as Finn. Henwick gets lines like, “I’ve stepped way out of the code of Bushido” to torture us with.
Their limited range is apparent in one scene in particular. Rand has decided to go after the Hand. Wing tries to talk him out of it. It’s supposed to be a tense scene, a very emotional scene: The exchange went like this:
“I’ve been doing this for fifteen years,” Daniel Rand.
“But not against the Hand,” Colleen Wing.
It should be a scene between two people, one going off to an uncertain future and the other person trying to stop the other from making a bad decision. However, it comes across on the screen as nothing more than a passing conversation.
The entire series revolves around Finn’s Danny Rand. Henwick’s Wing revolves around the center as a supporting character. If Henwick and Finn aren’t believable as the characters they are portraying everything else falls apart. Neither are convincing in their roles.
IN THE “AT ANY COST” DEPARTMENT: CLAIRE TEMPLE MUST BE IN EVERY MARVEL SERIES.
According to rules I am making up now, every Marvel series has to have Claire Temple no matter the cost. She was naturally worked into Daredevil which lead to a somewhat forced introduction in Jessica Jones. Temple’s insertion into Luke Cage was somewhat forced-Cage even asks her what she’s doing in Harlem and why she doesn’t go back to Hell’s Kitchen-but she had a history with Cage through Jones. Temple is totally shoehorned into Iron Fist.
I understand why Temple has to be in every series. She’s what’s tying all four characters together, but it should be a natural introduction into the series not one that comes out of the blue. When did she meet Wing to start taking karate/kung fu classes? The excuse Temple gives for taking her classes is to learn to defend herself, but can she afford private classes? Private lessons from a martial arts master, even one who is about to lose her dojo, can’t be cheap. How does an unemployed nurse afford self-defense classes? The how may not be as important as the why. Private lessons are the only way to get Temple, Wing, and Rand in the same room together by themselves. It’s forced, like a like a lot of things in Iron Fist.
On the bright side, it’s Rosario Dawson. Dawson is never a bad thing. So, we’ll always have Dawson if things don’t improve in the next four episodes.
IT WORKED IN DAREDEVIL, LET’S TRY IT IN IRON FIST
One of the major gripes about episodes one through three was the lack of any action. Episodes four through six stepped up the action just enough to remind the audience the series is about a kung fu monk who knows a killer kung fu move.
It took awhile to get there and when we do get some kung fu fighting it’s a copy of the Daredevil hallway fight scene. However, there’s a big difference between the fight scene in Iron Fist and the fight scene in Daredevil.
The fight scene in Daredevil was allowed to happen naturally. Daredevil moves down the hall fighting thugs as they come at him or from the sides. The scene is shot in normal speed with a still camera. It’s one of the best fight scenes put on film in quite some time.The hallway scene in Iron Fist is weighed down with slow-motion shots and a shaky camera. It could have been a much better fight sequence than what we saw.
There are a couple of scenes that make up for the hallway scene. Moments after normal speed is returned to the film, Rand fights more baddies in an elevator. The camera work makes the elevator much smaller than what it actually is which makes the fight scene seem pretty impressive. The only negative is the from-out-of-nowhere split screen.
The saving grace for the first six episodes is the fight gauntlet Rand had to go through to save a little girl’s life (Cue sappy, feel good music).
THE REST OF THE STORY
It’s taken six episodes to get to the point where Rand will confront the Hand. Six long episodes. In between brief moments of what we all wanted to happen in Iron Fist is some timely and topical (This is where Law and Order inserts a title card reading “Ripped from today’s headlines) filler. Rand Enterprises is ready to market a drug that will cure a lot of people of an unpronounceable, fictional disease. When Rand hears the astronomical mark up on the drug he makes the company sell it at cost. You know, to save millions of lives because it’s the right thing. It’s wish fulfillment on part of the writers while trying to make a statement about drug costs in America. We get it, we get it. Drugs are expensive in America. We also don’t want it in out mindless entertainment.
Episodes three though six were an improvement from the first episodes. However, the acting is still dragging down the series. The script is ultimately responsible for how mediocre Iron Fist is turning out to be. The best actors in the world could be in the series, but with a bad script it’s still going to turn out bad. Ishtar has arguably two of the greatest actors in cinema history (Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman) and it turned out to be…well…Ishtar.
We’re not done yet, folks. There’s still four more episodes. Come back next week when we look at episodes seven through nine.