Hyper-stylized In All The Wrong Ways
Writer/Director/Star Yue Song infuses relentless style into his kung fu superhero story Iron Protector (AKA The Bodyguard, AKA Super Bodyguard), unfortunately it’s an unwelcomed over-stylization that renders the film inert. Which is unfortunate, because as an on screen martial artist, Song has a fair amount of potential. Some over the top fight scenes and action set pieces almost threaten to veer into fun territory here, but at every chance it gets, Iron Protector just never quite sinks its hooks into the audience.
There are lots of old school elements at play in the film, with a time tested tale of two students vying for the blessing of their martial arts master, one going down a dark path, the other remaining loyal. But layered on top of that is a veneer of new school slickness and furious editing which clash in tone with the old school base. Add a sense of humor that doesn’t translate well at all to this western viewer, and unfortunately the whole project flounders.
While Iron Protector is mercifully brief, its script nonetheless dispenses with much of the connective tissue that might have lent weight to the threadbare story. There’s very little reason why the plot proceeds forward as it does, with character motivations feeling murky at best, or cut out altogether at worst. Song’s character Wu-Lin shows up in the big city to reconnect with his wayward brother after their former master has passed away. The new master of the Iron Kick technique, Wu-Lin wears ancient iron boots at all times until he’s able to remove them after ten years. Having gotten involved in a criminal organization, Wu-Lin’s brother recruits him as a bodyguard (for reasons I must have missed) while coveting the secrets of the Iron Kick. Wu-Lin gets involved in some intrigue whilst protecting his female charge, things come to a head with his brother, and it all ends in a massive (and pretty good) kung fu conflagration.
Iron Protector isn’t without any cool moments. In a troubling but effective approach, there are a dozen or so shots of full contact kicks and punches, filmed in glorious slow motion, throughout the film. Yue Song must have a massively dedicated stunt team, as Iron Protector displays full contact blows in all their glory. This is often missing from action films for obvious reasons: The safety of real life stunt workers and fight performers should always come before the audience’s entertainment. I don’t know how it was done, but I can’t deny there were some jaw dropping moments of full contact on display here.
Other than that, it seems Song has potential chops as an action star, but the perfunctory and atonal story combined with the frenetic and over-stylized editing (not to mention any and all comedy landing with a thud) really crushed any momentum Iron Protector may have otherwise generated. I’ll keep my eye on Yue Song but I hope he’s able to forego some of the flashy style that obscures his martial arts talent and embrace the old school elements that showed a lot of potential. Probably only fight film fans in the west will even be interested in this title, but they’re precisely the fans who may find the choppy and flashy editing a frustrating distraction from the fights featured here.
- The Chase
- The Final Battle
- Training, Stunts, and Fighting Highlights
And I’m Out.
Iron Protector hits Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand September 5th from Well Go USA.