You’d be forgiven for thinking that the score for The Man with the Iron Fists doesn’t differ greatly from the soundtrack, opening as it does with an extended, reworked sample from Wu-Tang Clan’s “Shame on a Nigga.” With that one chopped-and-screwed moment, though, what we’re really seeing is a hip-hop sensibility being applied to a score that well compliments its accompanying soundtrack.
A collaborative effort between RZA and Howard Drossin, a film and video-game composer who worked on the similarly themed Afro Samurai, the score often pays homage to predecessors before morphing into something new. The Italian-western style of Ennio Morricone or Luis Bacalov? Add more trumpets. The heavy, dark work of The Seven Samurai composer Fumio Hayasaka? Bring in a didgeridoo and back it up with a hip-hop beat.
One potential drawback is that character themes are not the instantly recognizable musical cues for which the composers might hope. Overall, though, the soundtrack is remarkably successful. While appreciating what has come before, RZA and Drossin don’t slavishly imitate it, instead sampling and retouching the elements with which they want to work. In that way, they’ve created a score that is decidedly its own beast.