This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“Iron Fist” stars; Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Jessica Stoup, Tom Pelphrey, David Wenham, Wai Ching Ho and Rosario Dawson.
This is the origins story of Danny Rand, a young man who went missing in the Himalayas as a child when his parents plane crashed. After 15 years, he returns to New York and to his family’s business trying to reconnect with his old life.
Something that will not be so easy as he finds many people are weary of his return for various reasons. But that isn’t the only variable. While living in the Himalayas Rand trained in a monastery and learned martial-arts. As well as a mystical force known as the Iron Fist, something he is still coming to grips with how to utilize.
So, I will start by saying I have thoroughly enjoyed all the Netflix Marvel series so far. They’re well written, very well acted, and nice connected. Daredevil is by far the best of them all in terms of both story and action, and it is head and shoulders better.
Luke Cage was a great story as was Jessica Jones, something that brought the entertainment way up despite the lack of quality comic-book action in both those shows. So, with the addition of Iron Fist, another martial-artist, and already knowing the level of quality Daredevil brought in that facet, I was pretty excited.
First, I will defend that this show was nowhere near as bad as some of the reviews were initially saying prior to its wide release. It certainly had some flaws though. It did have its moments of entertainment, but it also delivered some moments of boredom early in the season.
So, let’s get into the good things. The story was well written and wove some nice subplots in to implement some strong side-characters. Now, I will admit the first few episodes were very slow and the first two were pretty bad. But the story really gets going around the 5th or 6th episode, and gets much more intriguing.
The story weaves a compelling corporate drama that pulls in the characters very well and with the added family dynamic of the Meachum’s who were Danny Rand’s childhood friends add an entertaining element to it. Something that was very effective due to some strong performances from Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Stroup and David Wenham.
I really enjoyed all of these characters in particular that of Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum. To me he was the most compelling character, delivers the strongest performance and without him this season would have been missing a charismatic element.
Something else this season really had going in its favor was the additions of Wai Ching Ho as Madame Gao and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Both of them are the main connective tissue between all these different shows and they were nicely woven into this one once again. Dawson adds some nice, low key comedic relief to some of her scenes and was effective in bringing some more grounded dialogue during some scenes that were desperately in need of it.
Madame Gao was also great in this season and Wai Ching Ho is subtle but super impactful in her soft delivery. She comes across so innocent looking, like a grandma we could all love. But she is a dangerous woman, cunning and relentless and Ho’s performance captures it perfectly.
Now let’s talk about Finn Jones. This was the first time I had seen him, I have probably only watched like 20-min of “Game of Thrones” many seasons ago and had no expectations from him. The only expectations were from what Netflix has created with their past releases and from that aspect he was not very good, but he wasn’t necessarily bad either.
Jones definitely had his moments, he was charming when he needed to be. He felt like a grounded character, like an every-man, so you could relate to him from that aspect. But he definitely had some moments where he overacted and there were times he felt like a kid throwing a tantrum and not a man trying to control his rage and center his chi.
He also was not very good in the action. But to his credit there were many issues with the action, such as the choreography, to the way it was shot and the performer skill level. Jones did not look like he took this role as a challenge to bring his physical acting to the level it was needed to truly sell him as a martial-artist.
“Iron Fist” was a show about a master martial artist and the martial-arts action was the weakest element of it and to me it was shocking. The fight-sequences do get up to a level of serviceable in the back half of the season but it never gets to a level you could consider good unfortunately.
Yes, there were a couple fun fight sequences I guess, but it never really felt like people fighting and more like performers going through a routine. In the end though, if you have liked all of the Netflix Marvel series for the stories the told and the cast performances they delivered you will certainly find some fun in this show. But if you didn’t really like “Luke Cage” or “Jessica Jones” but did like “Daredevil” simply for the action you will be disappointed.
There was some entertainment to be found in this show, but the subplots outshine the main character for the most part. The dialogue was cheesy at times and overly scripted. Not to mention some odd tonal shifts in the violence that felt out of place given the fight sequences felt like something from network television.