“Weak”end of Netflix an MMT review of Iron Fist by contributor Darryl King

We have been spoiled! Over the past two years, bequeathed unto us by Marvel, has been some of the best binge worthy television. Spending a few days, or dedicating a weekend, to engulf shows like “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” was a pleasure until…”Iron Fist.” Because of their incredible track record, I hunkered down and digested it and let’s just say it doesn’t measure up.

“Iron Fist,” or Danny Rand is the latest Marvel Netflix hero, the son of rich parents who die in a plane accident. Danny survives the crash and is saved by mystical monks who raise him in the magical city of K’un-Lun, a city protected by the Iron Fist.

The Iron Fist is chosen by winning a battle with a dragon, then endowed with the dragon’s power, and when the anointed one harnesses their ‘Chi’ that incredible power becomes a great weapon. Sounds cool, right?

So, where does this show go wrong? The problem starts with the show runner/producer. Unlike other Marvel Netflix series, Scott Buck presents a very lackluster and often boring series and mythos. Other Marvel show runners have shown the dexterity to adapt and change the original comic content and deliver a better and watchable product.

For example, one of the beautiful aspects of Marvel’s Netflix world is the characterization of New York. Fortified with vibrant colors and distinct locations, these shows have provided a lovely depiction of the Big Apple, but “Iron Fist” sorely lacks in this area. Add in the fact that we don’t visually visit the magical city of K’un-Lun, and the show suffers greatly and misses an opportunity at world building.

Martial Arts should have been the saving grace for this show but the choreography and stunt work at most times was abysmal and uninspiring…Daredevil was so much better. “Iron Fist” even botched the infamous hallway fight scene that has become the signature of Marvel Netflix shows. The cheesy music soundtrack during these fight scenes further hinders and shackles the action.

Speaking of sound, there were too many times when the sound mixing was uneven and particularly weak for a television show, at times the outdoor scenes sounded like they were recorded in a room.

The direction of the episodes was less than stellar, very slow paced with poor visual conception and amateurish editing – making an hour program feel longer. But ultimately, “Iron Fist” is derailed by average dialogue and a lead character who doesn’t capture your imagination and whom you never believe is Iron Fist.

Finn Jones who plays Iron Fist, portrays his character as a whining brat who never grows beyond his circumstances. I haven’t seen anyone this whiny since Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker.

Overall, the show spends too much time on board room business intrigue – only without the intrigue. Danny Rand shares too much screen time with his childhood friends/partners/nemesis, the Meachum family, often spotlighting them as the main story.

The first 5 episodes could have been compacted into one or two episodes and the show doesn’t become binge worthy until the last 4 episodes.

What works for the “Iron Fist” series are the opening title sequence and some of its secondary characters. Rosario Dawson reprises her role as Claire Temple, who has become the glue of the Street Level series world, providing some much-needed heart and passion for this show. Wai Ching Ho (Madame Gao) continues her stellar portrayal of the Asian master/savant with mystical powers.

Clifton Davis plays a Board member of Rand Enterprises who adds some spice and gravitas to an otherwise stoic storyline. Colleen Wing, portrayed by Jessica Henwick, is a wonderful addition to the Marvel Netflix family with a character who is captivating and exciting and who has the greatest arc in the series.

What fans wanted was a show with great martial arts and the “power” of the Iron Fist, and we weren’t given either. “Iron Fist” is more disappointing than bad and it almost derails the up and coming The Defenders series. So, after a long weekend of binging, I can’t defend “Iron Fist!”

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Luke Cage, Dr. Strange and Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.


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