He has one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, thanks in part to key roles such as a Bond villain opposite Peirce Brosnan in Die Another Day and a speed demon racing alongside Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in the original The Fast and the Furious. This fall Rick Yune is gearing up to star in one of the most anticipated films of the year: The Man with the Iron Fists.
Directed by hip-hop guru and Wu-Tang Clan personality RZA, The Man with the Iron Fists stars Hollywood heavyweights Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Jamie Chung, and Pam Grier. Set in feudal China, The Man With The Iron Fists tells the tale of a villager blacksmith who must defend both himself and the locals from an ominous villain. Yune says the RZA and Eli Roth penned movie is unlike anything ever seen before.
Though the film releases later this fall, Mr. Yune spent a few moments chatting with us during the final days of summer of what we can expect from RZA, Russell Crowe, and behind-the-scenes of The Man With The Iron Fists.
Parimal M. Rohit: We’re still a bit away from the official release, but have you seen any of the film yet? What can we expect to see?
Rick Yune: It’s a great, great movie. I saw the final cut of it. We have a lot of musicians involved: Kanye, Wiz Kalifa, My Chemical Romance. A lot of guys contributed. It’s really a credit to RZA. The fact that people believe in him in an artist and the fact that he can create something spectacular.
PMR: There are rumos that the original cut was 4 hours long before finally being cut down to 90 minutes. Is there any truth to that?
RY: Well we shot probably one million feet of film. So, to put the first edit together, there was going to be a longer version of it. Ultimately it gets honed down and chiseled to what Russell [Crowe] called a couple beats away from perfect.
PMR: You and RZA are good friends. Tell us about working with him.
RY: I’ve known RZA from five, six years ago. He was just finishing [writing] this film and we were both creating our own projects. I was going off to shoot mine when he showed me this script. He said, "Listen, I want you to play this character." It was about six years ago. He continued on with it and created, ultimately, what he wanted - set it up so that he could shoot it in China. It was spectacular. Watching him direct was the most amazing thing. He is a genius. Creatively, he is extremely talented. But his genius is the ability to draw the best set of people. I did things in this film that I couldn’t have done without him, both in action and as an actor.
I was [friends] with him beforehand, but he has an understanding of people, a deep understanding of human nature that allows you to open up to him so easily.
PMR: Speaking of what you have done in The Man with the Iron Fists, what can you tell us about this role? What challenges did you endure?
RY: A lot of elements were changing as we were shooting because we saw ideas pop up all the time [and] we wanted to incorporate them. Because these great ideas are coming, we were able to push limits for us. People were working long hours. So there were some days I was shooting both night and day units. It’s hard to do that, but when you have everyone doing that and then a guy like RZA there who is putting everything into it, you want to contribute just as much as he does. That would’ve been difficult any other way. We’re all soldiers together. It makes it easier because we are surrounded by purists who are doing the same thing.
In the physical aspects, working alongside RZA made me forget about the pain of being tired.
PMR: Russell Crowe is definitely someone who has a presence on any given set. What stood about him, both as a man and actor?
RY: I’ve never seen a more giving and caring individual, as far as supporting the people around him and bringing his best to every single moment. Here’s a guy who worked on a Sunday, seven hours on half a page, just to make sure he got it right. This is the type of commitment and integrity he has even at this stage of his career.
PMR: The Man with the Iron Fists is homage to Hong Kong and martial arts cinema. How does this film stay true to the martial arts genre?
RY: As I said, for a guy like Russell to say he thought this was a few beats away from perfect is amazing. Also, when Quentin [Tarantino] said when he saw it, he was intimidated by it. That gives you a little bit of an idea of the quality of film this is. [RZA] is bringing his style to it, with music, with the way that he shot it, and the way that he cut it together. This type of genre has existed for a long time but you’ve never seen it with this flavor.
PMR: Carrying that one step further, what is the future for a film like this? Is it a one-off? Are there sequels or other potential storylines? What is the next logical step?
RY: This is set up as a series. There will be more films. RZA and I are working on a couple other ideas as well, so that’s pretty exciting. There’s a family element here that has a foundation of trust and is great to work in.
PMR: I want to finish by touching upon your Korean ancestry. In recent years, South Korean cinema has become increasingly popular. To what do you attribute the rise in popularity of films from South Korea?
RY: Well, I think it’s the international markets. We’re living in a ‘world’ environment now because of the Web and the access. We’re interested in other cultures, which is great. Because the world is becoming a smaller place so stories are translating. You can have an Eastern film with a Western understanding. I think more and more films are becoming like that. Soon, it’s going to be a world understanding we’re moving toward. That’s the beauty of film.
RZA's 'The Man With The Iron Fists' debuts Friday November 2nd, 2012.