The Man with the Iron Fists’ Rick Yune talks about the year’s best martial arts movie. That headline may have been, uh, somewhat misleading.
Presented by Quentin Tarantino and directed by RZA, Kung-Fu flick The Man With the Iron Fists punches its way into theaters today. One of the film’s main characters, veteran actor and ex-Bond villain Rick Yune, spoke exclusively to Maxim about the movie, preparing for his role… and the first time he met RZA.
What can you tell us about your character?
I play the son of a warlord who’s been entrusted to escort the emperor’s gold through the wildest village in feudal China. When my father gets killed, I go to avenge his death and link up with RZA and Russell Crowe’s characters to take out the bad guys.
What did you do to prepare for your role?
I lost 30 pounds! I trained with the best, the guys that did 300 and Ninja Assassin, and they helped me get where I needed to. I lost a lot of muscle but it was worth it.
You qualified for the Olympic Trials in Tae Kwon Do when you were 19. Did that background help you in this film?
Yeah, but ultimately, training for movies is much different than training for real-life combat, and it was my training during the past five or six years that helped me understand how to do something like this.
Do you have a favorite weapon from the film?
I loved my weapon! My character’s birth name is Zen Yi, but his warrior name is X Blade, so his weapon is a suit of knives. The suit is made entirely of knives and they can pop out of anywhere!
How did you and RZA meet?
About eight years ago, I was researching a fighting style called 52 Blocks and RZA had a friend from Brownsville who was also familiar with it. We met up at a Japanese restaurant in Burbank and ended up having an impromptu sparring session in the parking lot.
That’s just too awesome to even picture. Besides directing, RZA also wrote, starred in, and did some of the music for the film. Was he a control freak about stuff?
Talented people know they can’t do it all on their own, so they surround themselves with the best and then work within that structure. RZA was very trusting and very modest in his approach to the whole thing.
All photos courtesy of Universal Pictures
We know Lucy Liu can handle her business from Kill Bill. What was it like working with her?
I don’t think she trained for the film or anything, and just came on and killed it. We worked with an action coordinator who grew up in the same school as Jackie Chan and did everything from The Matrix to The Transporter, and Lucy was just able to surprise him and everybody. Just went in there, did her thing, and looked great.
Did you enjoy working with Russell Crowe?
I didn’t know what to expect but it was a great experience. The most giving, humble, big-hearted guy you’d ever want to meet. He gave me a lot of great advice on what it took for him to learn the ropes. It was amazing.