Netflix Review: Circle of Iron

Sometimes you have to make the poster big.

When I first got Netflix, I was looking through random categories in order to fill up my queue.  I threw in movies like The Seventh Seal and The Warriors either because I had heard about them before or the description just sounded so odd it could possibly be awesome.  Circle of Iron fell into that second group.  It has been sitting, waiting until its day of judgement came.  I figured if I didn’t like it, I could just stop watching.

The movie opened by saying that it was based off of a story written by Bruce Lee.  WHAT?!?  I hit up Wikipedia and found that Bruce Lee wrote the story Circle of Iron is based off of with the intention of making it a movie that simultaneously would be a starring vehicle for him and introduce Zen philosophy to Western culture.  Ok, even if this movie sucks, I am watching it to the end just because that concept is amazing.  Bruce Lee is a badass.  Still is.  Death cannot stop his badassery!

Cord (Jeff Cooper) is the composite for westerners.  He is searching for Zetan.  Zetan has the Book of All Knowledge and Cord wants to see it.  The setting is like Conan the Barbarian meets Fist of Legend with uglier fight choreography.  COI was made in 1978, they didn’t have wire-fu at this point.  But I must admit that the way Richard Moore shot and edited the fight scenes made them visceral and made up for pooptacular fight choreography.

There is just so much awesomeness in this movie that I really don’t know where to start.  I could start with the fact that it opens up with a tournament that only takes 4 minutes from start to finish.  But I think I am going to start with the Monkey King.  Cord has to complete three trials before he can get to Zetan.  The first trial requires him to fight the Monkey King.  The Monkey King is a formidable foe and has already ruined two men before him.  But Cord understands the philosophical lesson required to defeat the Monkey King and easily does so.

I could also talk about how David Carradine plays Bruce Lee’s roles.  Yes, I did say roles.  David has four of them in the film.  He is the Monkey King, the Blind Flautist, Chang-Sha (pirate gypsy), and Death.  All four are the best fighters in the movie.  Cord learns how to be as good as them, but only after understanding the lesson that each one is to teach him.  I could also talk about the man who is trying to melt away his penis so that he could gain total enlightenment without anything to pull him back to the physical world.  That probably isn’t as fun as talking about Erica Creer, thought.

Have any of you ever seen Blind Fury, starring Rutger Hauer?  Well, he has got nothing on the Blind Flautist.  Carradine walks into the frame as the Blind Flautist for the first time with a bell on his foot.  From what I can tell, it seemed like they were trying to say that he could see through a use of sonar.  As he would fight, his flute would make constant noise so that the sonar would be continuous.  His first fight scene is beautiful as well.  People just keep coming after him and he just keeps taking names.

I thought Circle of Iron was amazing.  It is cheesy, the acting, dialog, fighting and scenery are not good.  But I loved every minute of it.  And to think that it was made 33 years ago just made me love it more.  Bruce was going balls to the wall when he wrote this, and I can think of many movies that have borrowed from this movie (including Kung Fu Panda and Blind Fury).  If this hits your sweet spot, go get Circle of Iron.

Have you seen Circle of Iron?  What did you think about it?  Let me know in the comments below.

~Ryan Lynch