Comic Casting Couch – The Way of the Iron Fist

by

Welcome to the third installment of The Comic Casting Couch! A few weeks ago, I placed a poll up on the Major Spoilers forum and asked which of five different characters you would like to see me give the Comic Casting Couch treatment. After two weeks of voting, it seems that the winner has been crowned, THE WAY OF THE IRON FIST!

Plot

Young Danny Rand, heir to the Rand Corporation empire, is not the corporate type. Danny does not believe that he can handle the corporate intrigue when his father, Wendell Rand, dies. Having spent his teenage years as an angry young man, he turned to martial arts to quell his inner fire. Much to his surprise, on the eve of his father’s impend death, his father gives him a preview of his will. Wendell has decided that Danny must travel to the Orient and fight in a competition known as The Way of the Iron Fist. Win or loose, once he fights it is his decision if he wants to come back to lead the Rand Corporation. Danny, surprised by his father’s plan, is even more surprised to learn that his father spent his own youth in the Orient working with Interpol, and had once brought down the infamous Fu Manchu. Fearful of letting his inner rage out, but eager to learn more of his father’s unspoken history, Danny flies to Madripoor. There, he finds a group of ragtag fighters, all intent on entering the Iron Fist Competition, but all with their own agendas.

Danny Rand/Channing Tatum

My Danny Rand is a young man who has learned to quite his inner demons by the use of martial arts. A superior fighter, he has never gone beyond the mainstream tournament level of fighting, and has never been in a “real” fight. He needs to be young, but show a responsibility that is beyond his age. I may take some flack for this casting choice but Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe, Fighting) has the physical look to pull off the role, and has shown he can pull off a convincing fight. Let his hair grow out and make sure it is sunshine blonde and whether he is wearing a business suit or fight garb, Danny Rand will shine through.

Luke Cage/Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

A framed MMA fighter, Luke “The Power Man” Cage was released from prison on parole. After being experiment on in prison by a covert branch of the Golden Claw, he is now helping SHIELD bring down them down. Entering the Iron Fist tournament, he is gathering enough information to arrest leader of the Golden Claw, Plan Chu. Forming an unlikely friendship with Danny Rand, it is discovered that Plan Chu is also one of the directors of a company with designs to take over the Rand Corporation. Every since I first saw Quinton “Rampage” Jackson fight, I thought he would make an awesome Luke Cage. With his recent casting as B.A. Baracus in the new A-Team movie, he has shown he wants to act. Give him his signature heavy chain as part of his costume, a CAGE belt buckle, and dress him in a yellow silk shirt (for the pre-fight formal dinner) and, Sweet Christmas,  you have Luke Cage come to life!

Misty Knight/Zoe Saldana

As the SHIELD agent assigned to assist Luke Cage in his mission to bring down the Golden Claw, Misty Knight is posing as his manager, but is much more. Need a bug planted or a location put under surveillance? She is your woman. Add to that her bionic arm which she received after a failed mission against a branch of the Golden Claw, and you have a hi-tech hottie who can fight you in cyberspace and the real world.  Let her flirt with Danny a little and you have her set him up for some good natured ribbing from Cage. I liked her in Star Trek and in Disney’s Pirate movies, and I think that Zoe Saldana would make an excellent Misty Knight, pre-investigator years. As far as the look, I like the big hair.

Colleen Wing/Jessica Alba

A private investigator who believes that the Golden Claw was responsible for the murder of her parents, she has used her martial arts skills to gain entry into the Iron Fist tournament.  Upon her arrival, she shares information with Misty Knight and also forms tentative partnership with the group. Her true motives discovered during the tournament, she is held hostage and her life is used to force Danny to fight Steel Serpent. I’m going a little against my usual rules here choosing Jessica Alba (Dark Angel, Fantastic Four) to be Wing, but I believe that her previous roles as a female bad-ass outweigh the rules.

Shang Chi/Jay Chou

Shang Chi is on a personal quest, to find and defeat his father, the criminal known as Fu Manchu. After receiving word that the son of Wendell Rand would be fighting in the Iron Fist, he travels to Mardripoor to see if there was any information Danny’s father may have passed on to him regarding Fu Manchu. With an almost naïve attitude, Shang Chi wonders if anyone is actually in the tournament to pit their skills against their fellow fighters without any secret agendas, since he is very vocal about his. While his character was originally based on the late Bruce Lee, I think that a new comer to the American film industry, Taiwanese dancer/singer/musician Jay Chou (Initial D, Curse of the Golden Flower, The Green Hornet) can pull off the moves needed to be the Master of Kung Fu. After his “defeat” at the hands of Danny Rand, he is taken away by men loyal to the Golden Claw.

Plan Chu/Chen Daoming

As the leader of the Golden Claw, Plan Chu has designs on most of the fighters in the tournament. With his superior intellect and the countless troops of the Golden Claw at his disposal, he is a villain of epic proportions. Hiding behind the guise of a reputable business man, he wishes to use the Rand Corporation to help fund his world dominating plans, kill Cage and use his corpse to backward engineer the lost formula that gave him his powers. Said formula was destroyed when Professor Wing and his wife discovered who they where working for and where killed. All of this, while brainwashing Misty into giving up SHIELD’s secrets is only part of his master plan. He hopes that the tournament will be a turning point for his son, Shang Chi, whom he wishes to groom to take over his organization one day. Additionally, his is determined that his fighter, Steel Serpent, will be the heir to the Iron Fist technique. To conduct plans within plans convincingly you need a good actor, and Chen Daoming (Hero, Internal Affairs III) is known as the Emperor of the Chinese drama. Having played Chinese royalty before, he can bring an air of sophistication to the role and is versatile enough to play evil well.

Steel Serpent/Aamir Khan

The Protégé of Plan Chu and leader of the Golden Claw’s army, Steel Serpent is originally planned to fight Shang Chi in the final round of the Iron Fist tournament, but after he is “defeated” during the tournament semi-finals, he must fight Danny Rand instead. Willing to use any means to win the tournament, he needs to be big, bad and devious looking. I’ve got an unusual choice here, as I pick Indian actor Aamir Khan (Ghajini, Fanaa.) If you see the average picture of him, you would think I was insane, but just check out the shot from him in the Memento inspired movie Ghajini. He spent a year in the gym bulking up for the role, and looks as close to a psychotic killer as anyone you can find.

Fat Cobra/Solofa Fatu

I really debated on putting in any of the other Immortal Weapons characters in this movie, it is loaded with fighters already, but I could not resist Fat Cobra. The boisterous fighter with the shady past, he is seen in the back ground through out the movie, and after his wins can be heard bellowing, “Bring me my victory wenches!” Seemingly nothing more than a background character who happens to be around, it won’t be until the end of the movie that we discover he was a mole for Peter Wilson and MI-13. His actions behind the scenes, discovered through flash back, assisted Danny Rand in winning the tournament and for everyone to have a “happy” ending. The wrestler known as Solofa “Rikishi” Fatu can pull of Fat Cobra, whether you die his hair back black or not. Personally, I would keep it blonde and make this Fat Cobra modern and eye-catching. As a wrestler, he knows how to make a fight look good, and has the size and speed to pull off the Fat Cobra.

That’s A Wrap!

At the end of the movie, we have Danny Rand , now branded with the Iron Fist symbol, talking with Wing, Cage and Knight. As the new master of the Iron Fist technique, he has been offered a place in SHIELD, MI-13, Interpol and a dozen other government agencies. Turning them down, Danny decides that those groups can handle the “big” threats; someone needs to look out for the people. He pleads his case and tells his new friends how he plans on using the Rand Corporation, which is now his, to form a group looking out for the little guy. They all join him, and Knight resigns from SHIELD by leaving Fury an irreverent voice mail. Cage seems a little leary, saying, “So, what? You wanna be like Rent-A-Hero or something.” To which Danny replies, “I was thinking more like Heroes For Hire.” Fade to black.

After credits Easter Egg: The corpse of Plan Chu, looking skyward in defeat. Coming up beside the body is his personal assistant. He looks down at the body and keys his headset, “Tell Master Manchu that the LMD performed at near 75%. The next batch should run at full capacity.” As he turns away from the newly revealed LMD, we iris fade to black.

Yes, the plot is similar to Enter The Dragon, but I believe it is distinct enough to stand on it’s own. Add some legendary real martial artists as the Iron Fist tournament judges (Gordan Liu, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Jim Kelly) and have it directed by John Woo with Yuen Woo-ping on fight choreography.

That’s it! Feel free to leave comments, I like the feedback. And keep any eye out for the next Comic Casting Couch in about 2 weeks.