Iron Protector [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Well Go USA
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (12th November 2017).
The Film

"Iron Protector", though weak on plot, is an old school throwback in the tradition of Bruce Lee films and it is due to the strength of the director and main star Yue Song’s belief in making a true black and blue winner of a fight film. Let’s be honest, if there is anything that the average martial arts fan is interested in it is a good old fashioned a**kicking and in this film plenty of a** gets kicked, as well as bones broken, heads bounce off of steel plate floors, and henchmen casually spit a mouthful of blood after being smacked in the face. If you are yearning for an action packed film with an interesting male lead, look no further, as "Iron Protector" features Song as an action hero with a strong moral code (“the protector devotes his life to his master”), but also has a twist of something of a superhero characteristic as his character wears iron shoes that weigh 55.12 pounds each, giving him a ferocious power in each leg. The battle scenes are the highlight of this film and some of them are truly amazing; through the use of quick editing and camera angles, the protagonist is an unstoppable fighting machine.

The story is nothing unusual; a Cain and Able sort of story about jealousy and bickering between two young men who are selected by a mysterious master and trained in the martial arts. Wu (Yue Song) is basically the good one and Jiang (Xing Yu) is the one that is disowned. Basically it comes down to the fact that the master does not deem Jiang to be worthy of learning the “Way of the 108 kicks” and he storms off to make his way in the big city of Lengchen. All this is revealed in a series of flashbacks as the film progresses, but first we see Wu practicing his split leg mediation pose in the city square in front of an ice cream eating child. Suddenly there is a rumpus as a gang of thugs pursue a wealthy businessman, Li (Jia-Shan-li), past our protagonist and he decides to intervene, easily beating at least 15 men in a rousing beat down. Demonstrating that this is no big deal in the life of a hero, he declines the large packets of bills that the grateful man waves before him. Suddenly there is a cavalcade of black SUV’s and they surround Wu; this can only mean one thing: the bad guy has arrived. Stepping out of a vehicle, dressed in black and smoking a big cigar, is none other than a grown up Jiang. What is the story here, the audience ponders, but instead of trading blows the two men embrace and smiles are exchanged. Seems that Jiang now runs a highly successful bodyguard school (is there really such a thing?) and Wu is welcomed into the clan. Next we see Li inspecting the troops because he needs a good man to guard his daughter Fei Fei (Li Yufei); a spoiled brat of a girl who loves to “shop, shop, shop.” At first the two do not get along (what a surprise!) but then as time passes the two begin to have romantic feelings for each other. We are treated to a montage of clichéd scenes including horseback riding on a deserted beach while the soundtrack radiates good charm. But then a kidnapping attempt is foiled and things are not as idyllic as they seem. The scene cuts to some warehouse where the real villain is hiding in shadow and speaking with a voice that sounds like it was run through one of those devices that throat cancer patients use after an operation on their vocal chords. He has a tiger in a steel cage and he mutters a lot of platitudes concerning revenge, destiny and fate. Who this shadowy figure is will be revealed by the end of the film, but stay tuned because there is some hellacious fight scenes coming up.

The story is predictable and totally unrealistic, but hey this is standard fare for Martial Arts mayhem, right? It is the fight scenes that we are here to see, not the sappy romance subplot or the long lost brother reunion junk. In the accompanying featurette director, editor and star Yue Song, who wears all the hats in this film, talks about the chase scene; in said scene we are given a taste of the superhero powers of our hero, as he races head on to the charging car, with 55 pound boots on, and swan dives through the windshield and dispatches with the cars contents. Now if this was just another CGI joy ride, I wouldn’t mention it, but it is not, and crazy Yue performs his own stunts and that includes fighting huge crowds of bad guys complete with metal shields, hunks of pipe, and various axes and knives. In the final fight scene that takes place in a huge warehouse there are literally a hundred extras that try to defeat Yue and he is unstoppable. The overall film moves at a breakneck pace and once the romance angle has been shelved, the hero is determined to save Daddy-san and his daughter. Even though the trailer promises that no tricks were used doing the fight scenes, there is some wire work done, but for the most part, it looks like Yue and his partners in crime actually get hurt while dispensing some hard justice. In the extras, you can watch some outtakes as men are visibly limping, noses bleed freely, and it looks like the lead definitely fell wrong during a particularly brutal scene. The acting is so-so and since this is Yue’s second time at bat (he previously directed "The King of the Streets" (2012)) you can tell that he has advanced progressively as an actor and director. As a realistic fighter, Yu is very good, and the ending leaves us with some mysteries resolved about Wu’s upbringing and who his father really is (no surprises there), so you can definitely tell that now that his character has been established, that a sequel will be expected on the horizon.

The camerawork is uneven and bounces around a lot, but at least there are some surprising angles and shots utilized, and overall the production values are sound. The details of the picture are pretty pleasing and blacks are solid without other colors being overwhelming. A solid score is provided and the music is very driven and dramatic during the battle scenes. Overall this is a well done production and fans of the genre should be pleased with this purchase.

Video

This is a 25GB Blu-ray disc framed at 2.35.1 widescreen 1080p 24/fps with AVC MPEG-4 encoded high definition; the film looks crisp and clean with a sharp digitally shot image.

Audio

The language featured here is Mandarin and the DTS-HD 5.1 surround track sounds good, handling both dialogue and the soundtrack easily enough. Lots of rear channel action is featured so turn it up and entertain the neighbors with plenty of screaming and yelling. There is an optional Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track available as well with removable English subtitles. I particularly liked the score during the big fight scenes because there was some powerful drumming being done.

Extras

Well Go USA has released this film with a series of brief featurettes, the theatrical trailer, and a series of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look.

"The Chase" (1:43), a brief featurette with behind the scenes footage and the director is particularly proud of the chase scene that involved a speeding van.

"Fight Scenes" (3:10) featurette, Bruce Lee’s name is invoked so we know who is an influence here. The focus is the director talking about how he came up with the idea of having his protagonist run in a circle of bad dudes at a 45 degree angle. Over a hundred extras were employed in the final battle. No CGI was used during the fight scenes either.

"Training, Stunts, and Fighting" (3:26) featurette, mostly outtakes of fight scenes focusing on the choreography involved in creating a believable fight scene.

Theatrical trailer (1:13), a taste of what is to come.

Bonus trailers included on the disc are for:

- "Legend of Naga Pearls" (1:46)
- "The Game Changer" (1:58)
- "The Final Master" (1:37)

Overall

"Iron Protector" is not perfect but pretty good for what it is. This is like an old time valentine from the director harkening back to the earlier films of the 70’s. Hand to hand combat against unbeatable odds, large fight scenes with various weapons, and men flying through the air is an enjoyable way to spend the evening. Strap on your Doctor Scholes and put your feet up for this guilty pleasure.

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: A Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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