by Kbear! on March 25, 2017

Did you catch Iron Fist last weekend? I watched all 13 hours and I deserve a Purple Heart for my sacrifice (or is that stupidity). Even if you haven’t watched it, you have probably heard the bad reviews for it. It is the first Netflix Marvel series to be a critical failure. My opinion, I didn’t hate it as much as the critics, but I agree that it is the worst Netflix Marvel series, by a mile. Honestly, its quality reminded me of some of the genre shows that were syndicated back in the 90s. I wasn’t under duress when I watched all 13 episodes, so there were parts of it that were entertaining. Unfortunately, some of the entertainment value came from some of the cheesiness of the show.

What were the show’s problems?

The writing
Some of the dialogue in the show was cringe worthy. The characters were all over the place, especially the two Meachum siblings. The show’s tone was never consistent.

Production values
 It looked like Marvel spent less money on this show than they did on the other three shows. The other shows New York (Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem) looked specific for their shows. This show could have taken place in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, or Houston. You just needed any place that looked like a big city. When they were in China, they didn’t even bother to make it look like they were in China. The only way you knew they were in China was that they told us. They never showed K’un Lun even though they talked about it incessantly. The show looked cheap and bland. Poorly edited fight scenes disrupted the impact of the fights. I guess they had to cover up for some of the actors.

The main character
This role was completely miscast. In the other three Defender shows, you believe that Charlie Cox is Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Krysten Ritter is Jessica Jones, and Mike Colter is Luke Cage. I never believed that Finn Jones is Iron Fist, maybe as Danny Rand, but not Iron Fist. He didn’t move or fight like someone who actually knows the martial arts. When he was fighting against or with another character, like Colleen or Davos, he looked inferior to them. That is not acceptable in a martial arts show when you are supposed to be the greatest kung fu fighter in the world. Even as Danny Rand, he lacked the charisma you would want in the character. Danny came across as immature, petulant, gullible, stubborn, and dumb. I attribute most of this to the show’s writing, but Mr. Finn was unable to elevate the material he was given. So, aside from these problems, the show was great!

Episode summaries

(I’m going to discuss the show a little more in-depth, so if you haven’t watched the show yet, there will be spoilers.)

Danny Rand (Finn Jones) shows up in the first episode dressed like a homeless hippie trying to see his old friends Ward and Joy Meachum (Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup). Rand Enterprises security tries to throw him out but he beats them up. This was the first indication the actor was learning martial arts on the job. No one believes he is Danny Rand, heir to Rand Enterprises because he was supposed to have died in a plane crash with his parents 15 years ago in the Himalayas. He meets Colleen Wang (Jessica Henwick) who gives him some money since she thinks he is homeless. Ward later secretly meets his and Joy’s father, Harold Meachum (David Wenham) who everyone thinks is dead, including Joy.

Danny ends up in a mental hospital; he calls Colleen who does not want to become involved with this stranger. She did see him fight some of the Meachum’s goons so she knows he is more than a homeless person. Ward’s attempt to bribe her to help keep Danny in the mental hospital makes her suspicious, so she helps Danny. Joy finally figures out this homeless hippie is her old friend Danny. Danny finally escapes the mental hospital using the power of the Iron Fist.

With the help of Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), he proves he is Danny Rand. Harold tells Ward to let him back in the company; he might be able to help them with the Hand. We get to see Colleen fight in her first underground fight as the Daughter of the Dragon. Danny finds out Harold is alive and Danny naively believes everything Harold tells him. That becomes a pattern. We finally get a good hallway fight scene between Danny and a bunch of dudes with hatchets. Colleen has her second underground fight violently beating up two big men. Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) makes her first appearance.

In the next episode, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) shows up. Danny finds out the Hand is making and selling synthetic heroin using Rand Enterprises. He gets in a fight in a mobile drug lab and rescues the Russian chemist who is making the heroin. The chemist is injured but Claire does her super nurse bit and saves him while Danny goes out to rescue his daughter from the Hand. Danny rescues the chemist daughter by fighting bouts with the Veznikovs brothers; the Bride of Nine Spiders and the Scythe. These were good fight scenes.

During all this we find out Ward has a drug problem. Ward kills the cause of his drug problems, Harold. This is the second time Harold has died; the Hand brought him back the last time, so he is under their control. The board fires Danny, Ward, and Joy after Danny screws up a settlement. Speaking of screwing, Danny and Colleen get it on. We meet Colleen’s sensei, Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez). Madame Gao tells Danny she has met his father.

Joy prevents Ward from getting their buyout from Rand Enterprises. She wants to keep fighting to keep her job, Ward wants out. Ward is also hallucinating about seeing blood, so overall, not a good day for Ward. Danny, Colleen and Claire go to China to fight the Hand and find out if what Madame Gao said was true. Only Danny thinks it is a great idea to go to China. It’s strange how China looks a lot like New York. They capture Madame Gao after busting up her heroin operations. We get a fun fight scene thanks to a drunken Zou Cheng (Lewis Tan).

Harold comes back from the dead. (WTF!!) He walks around New York like a zombie. After acting more like himself again, he nicely buys his assistant different flavors of ice cream but later kills him with an ice cream scope for not appreciating it enough. (I nearly bailed on this series because of Harold’s resurrection.) Joy goes to the penthouse he was hiding in and finds him alive. She had missed the part when he was stumbling around New York and killing his assistant. Danny, Colleen, and Claire bring Madame Gao back to New York with them. She proceeds to play mind games with these idiots. Poisoned in China, Colleen gets in contact with her sensei Bakuto. He and his men rescue them when Madame Gao’s troops show up. Bakuto shows Danny how to use his Iron Fist to save Colleen. The best part of all this junk is Davos (Sacha Dhawan) making his first appearance.

We find out that Bakuto and Colleen are members of the Hand. They are at Bakuto’s compound. Colleen tries to assure Danny that they are members of the good faction of the Hand. Colleen truly believes this. She never mentioned she was a member, even when Danny was saying his mission is to destroy the Hand. Unlike the first half of this series, we are now beginning to get more fight scenes. Bakuto has an old film of a previous Iron Fist in the 1940s fighting some Chinese soldiers. This Iron Fist is wearing the Iron Fist costume and using both his fist. (I wish this show were about that Iron Fist.) Danny fights Bakuto. The good fight is when Danny and Davos fight Bakuto’s students. Davos can fight, Danny, not so much. It is still a good scene. Colleen helps them escape from the compound. Meanwhile back at Rand Enterprises, Harold sneaks into the building and kills the guy who fired Joy and Ward, making it look like a suicide. This gets them reinstated back to their old jobs. Ward doesn’t know this because he’s in the mental hospital Danny was in, courtesy of Harold. I guess you have to be grounded for killing your father.

Danny was hurt in the fight, so Davos takes him to Claire’s apartment. (She should open up a superhero clinic and charge these people for her services.) Colleen shows up trying to convince Danny that this is all a misunderstanding. Bakuto told her Danny started the fight. Danny doesn’t trust her now. Bakuto had told her to tell him where Danny was when she found him. She doesn’t, so she finds out first hand that her faction of the Hand is evil too. Colleen is able to escape the Hand’s clutches. She and Danny reconcile to Davos displeasure. She is a Hand member and he doesn’t trust her. He just wants to take Danny back home to K’un Lun.

Ward makes a deal with Davos to take over Rand if he kills his father and let Joy and him leave. Davos trouble crosses him and shoots Joy. The conflicts that have been brewing finally boil over. Colleen and Bakuto fight using swords in the rain. Colleen is able to defeat her sensei and is noble enough not to kill him. Davos and Danny grew up as brothers in K’un Lun, but as close as they are, Davos has been secretly jealous of Danny becoming the Iron Fist. He felt it was his destiny. He is also upset that Danny abandoned his post as the Iron Fist and left for New York. With him choosing Colleen over K’un Lun and him, he and Danny fight. I always like fights that have a personal meaning to the combatants. Since it is his show, Danny won, and he was able to activate the Iron Fist for the first time since he healed Colleen. Davos is left defeated in the rain. (Sounds like the beginning of a country song.)

Just when Danny thinks he and Colleen can relax for a minute or two, The DEA raids Colleen’s place. Harold has framed Danny for drug running. Even though everyone in the world thinks, Harold is dead, he shows up back at Rand Enterprises to run the company. With help from Ward, Danny is able to prove his innocence and defeat Harold using the power of the Iron Fist. In the final scenes, Ward is reformed and he and Danny will run the company. Joy meets with Davos and they discuss killing Danny. (Joy turning evil now and plotting to kill Danny makes no sense, but what on this show does.) Madame Gao is at the next table smiling evilly to herself. Danny takes Colleen with him to K’un Lun. He has decided to go back for some reason and bring a former member of the Hand with him. When they get to K’un Lun’s entrance, K’un Lun isn’t there. Danny blames himself for this. (I blame you too.)

Final thoughts
I have already given the reasons this show was mediocre. There are a few reasons why it is watchable. The characters not named Danny Rand were generally good. I especially liked Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wang. I don’t know if they are going to do a second season of “Iron Fist”, but I recommend to Marvel and Netflix that they do season one of “Daughters of the Dragon” with Colleen and Misty Knight. Simone Missick was a standout on “Luke Cage” Ms. Henwick and Ms. Misssick together headlining their own show would be fantastic. I also enjoyed Sacha Dhawan as Davos. He stole every scene he was in. What if Mr. Dhawan or Lewis Tan who played the Zou Cheng had played Danny Rand instead, I think they would have been able to elevate the material. At least the fight scenes would have looked better. The holdovers from the other Marvel Netflix series, Claire Temple, Madame Gao, and Jeri Hogarth were good. Being established on better shows probably helped. I enjoyed the fight scenes that we got. They weren’t as good as the fight scenes in “Daredevil”, which disappointed me, but once I knew they weren’t going to be as good, I enjoyed them for what they were. Some of the dialogue and scenes were so corny or cheesy that I got a good laugh from them. The best episode was “Immortal Emerges from Cave” directed by RZA, from the Wu-Tang Clan. He loves kung-fu movies and the martial arts, and his love for it showed in this episode. The worst episode might be a five-way tie.

Grade: C-

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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