The Blacksmith (RZA) says that to forge a weapon you need three things: the right metal, the right temperature, and somebody that you want to kill. While he never wanted to make weapons of death, he had to make that sacrifice in order to be with the love of his life Pink Silk (Jamie Chung) a prostitute. Before they can leave the village they live in, trouble begins to brew.
In 19th Century China, the land is divided among many clans constantly at war. The Governor (Terence Yin) summons the Lion Clan to help protect and transport his gold. However, the Lion Clan Leader, Gold Lion (Kuan Tai Chen), is betrayed by two of his men Bronze Lion (Cung Le) and Silver Lion (Byron Mann) who kill the Gold Lion. The only thing standing in the way of their success is the Gold Lion’s son, Zen-Yi (Rick Yune), a young man who wants nothing more than to marry his own love. When word reaches him of the Gold Lion’s death, he immediately puts on his armor and declares that he must avenge his father’s death to ensure his own future. He leaves that night on horseback.
Silver Lion ascends to the Gold Lion’s place and tells his men that they will keep the Governor safe. He confesses that he believes the Wolf Clan Protectors of the West Gate will attack first. When one man asks if they should wait for Zen-Yi to join them, Silver overrules him.
Emissaries of the Wolf Clan visit the Blacksmith and commission him to forge a weapon. The Wolf Clan members are displeased when the Blacksmith tells them that it will take him 3 days to forge the weapon. To demonstrate the weakness of shoddy work, the Blacksmith drives his hammer down on a Wolf Clan member’s axe and it breaks apart. As the war spirals between the clans, the Blacksmith is forced to make more and more weapons.
Victor “Jack” Knife (Russell Crowe) arrives at the Pink Blossom brothel owned by Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). Madam Blossom drinks cognac with him and asks if he is a soldier. He requests a private room with three girls and some fine liquor. He chooses two girls and then chooses a third who has been bought out by another customer, Crazy Hippo (Gang Zhou). Jack Knife goes over and invites her to join him and Crazy Hippo threatens to cut the Brit in half. Crazy Hippo raises his club to strike but Jack Knife grabs the club and rips through Crazy Hippo’s rotund stomach with his signature weapon a jack knife blade. The crowd is horrified by his bloodshed and he announces that he is on vacation and does not wish to be disturbed.
The Blacksmith arrives as Lady Silk applies lotions to her legs. She asks why he works himself to death for savages and he reminds her that she’s the one he’s been working for. He gives her a small pouch full of gold that she puts with their stash in a chest.
Zen-Yi gets closer to the village. He investigates a bar, searching for word of the traitorous Lions who murdered his father. A patron attacks, laying a hand on Zen-Yi’s armor which blades slide out of cutting off the patron’s hand. The attackers drive him outside, wrapping ropes around his ankles and wrists as they fight. The leader prepares to slit Zen-Yi’s throat as he is drawn by the ropes and suspended in mid-air but Zen-Yi uses his armor’s hidden weapons to break free and kills all of his attackers.
Silver is being tailored for a new suit. He explains to Bronze that the Gemini Killers two fierce bodyguards are accompanying the Governor’s gold on its way to the Lion’s den of operation. Bronze doesn’t know who the Governor is sending to help with the delivery.
Jack Knife finishes performing oral sex on a prostitute. Madam Blossom knocks on the door and delivers him a bottle of cognac on the house. Jack Knife invites her to join in the debauchery that is his room, but Blossom grabs his balls and says “if you hurt my girls, I’ll do the same to your boys.” She leaves him to his opium-fueled orgy.
Two Lions arrive to bring Zen-Yi back home. They explain that while Gold Lion wanted peace, Silver only wants to revel in war. A distance away, Silver leads the Lions to attack the Wolf Clan and slaughter the survivors. Bronze tells Silver that they are ready for the robbery. All they need to do is take out Zen-Yi. Silver hires an assassin called Brass Body (David Bautista) to kill Zen-Yi: a man with the ability to turn his fists into iron. Because of this ability, none of Zen-Yi’s blades will harm him.
Jack Knife wakes up his prostitutes and tells them that if they are good they can play a game called “let’s pretend we’re Catholic and we’ll see if I can find the heretic among you.” Zen-Yi arrives at the Pink Blossom brothel and requests a private room. He has one of his men deliver a letter to Silver Lion and tells the man to bring Silver Lion with him.
The Blacksmith puts another pouch on the table in front of Lady Silk and announces that Madame Blossom will no longer be her master. They’ve earned enough to leave the village together.
Silver Lion has still not arrived. Children swarm the brothel and pull Zen-Yi and his men out into the streets where Brass Body waits, holding the messenger by the throat. When Zen-Yi arrives, Brass Body rips out the messenger’s throat. He quickly kills another of Zen-Yi’s men each blow useless as the man’s skin turns to metal the minute anything touches it. Zen-Yi’s spiked armor does nothing but force Brass Body into a pure gold form. Zen-Yi’s surviving companion sees Zen-Yi stripped of his armor and about to be killed, so he sacrifices himself ripping down the columns of the surrounding building to bury them.
The commotion attracts the Blacksmith who finds Zen-Yi passed out nearby. When the assassin emerges, Zen-Yi is gone safe in Lady Silk’s apartment.
The Gemini Twins (Grace Huang and Andrew Lin) arrive at an inn to spend the night. The inn is closed to outsiders but the Lions arrive while the Gemini Twins enjoy their dinner. Silver and Bronze seat themselves at the table and a tense discussion ensues. Silver makes it clear that if they give up the gold, they can live. The Twins spring to action and begin to fight the attackers--their signature weapon a pair of Ying Yang blades. Surrounded, they form a tight circle at the center of the room and fight as their troops arrive with crossbows and reinforcements. Silver Lion and the Male Gemini go head to head while the Female Gemini takes on Bronze. As Male spins Female around, a soldier with poison darts shoot two into the Female Gemini Twin’s neck killing her. More and more poisoned darts fly into the room until the Gemini Twins and their companions are all dead. The Lions steal the gold successfully and set up shop in the village the center of their new kingdom.
Jack Knife, disguised, sees the aftermath of the battle. He finds the corpses of the Gemini Twins and realizes that they have been poisoned with mercury. The innkeeper tells Jack Knife that the only one who has access to mercury would be the Blacksmith warning Jack Knife that “he isn’t from around here.”
When the Governor hears that the Lions have stolen his gold, he gives the order for the village to be burned to the ground if a single bar goes missing. The Blacksmith helps treat Zen-Yi out of guilt for what happened to Zen-Yi’s body. Zen-Yi commissions the Blacksmith to make him a new suit of knives. The Blacksmith sets to work immediately knowing that once he completes his mission he will be able to leave.
The Blacksmith is walking around when the assassin and the Lions capture him. They string him up by his hands and beat him with sticks. Silver Lion asks what the Blacksmith has been working on. Silver tells the Blacksmith that he could be a great asset if he gives up Zen-Yi and pledges allegiance to the Lion Clan. The Blacksmith refuses to budge so Silver Lion has Brass Body cut off the Blacksmith’s arms. The Blacksmith passes out from the pain. Jack Knife witnesses the amputation and saves the Blacksmith when he is dumped in the river.
In the Blacksmith’s forge, Jack Knife introduces himself when the Blacksmith awakens. Jack Knife then cauterizes the wounds with the Blacksmith’s equipment. Presenting the Blacksmith with plans for the blow gun that killed the Gemini Twins, Jack Knife asks if he made the weapon. The Blacksmith instead tells him about how he was a slave.
When the Blacksmith was younger, his name was Thaddeus. His mother, Jane (Pam Grier), had been a slave her whole life and worked diligently until she could afford to be set free using her means to free her young son instead. His former master wishes Thaddeus well, but that night some men visit his forge and demand horse shoes be done immediately. Thaddeus shows the men his manumission papers but they crumple it up. A fight ensues and Thaddeus accidentally trips the white man, who hits his head on an anvil and dies. Forced to flee, Thaddeus hid on a boat which was subsequently lost at sea. He floated to shore on the wreckage and was found by shaolin monks who took him in, nursed him back to health, and introduced him to their teachings before releasing him to go his own way.
The Blacksmith makes Jack Knife a deal: if Jack Knife helps him, together they will forge his greatest weapon. Jack Knife oversees the design and the process as one of Blacksmith’s apprentices begins to create a new set of arms from mercury. Sliding his stumps into the metal arms, he has them nailed into place. He tests his new Iron Arms, slamming them through a block eviscerating them and impressing Jack Knife with his progress.
Zen-Yi’s recovery is complete and he thanks Lady Silk for her kindness. He asks where he might find the Blacksmith, but Lady Silk confesses that the rumor has been going around that he is dead. Zen-Yi departs and finds the Blacksmith with Jack Knife in the forge. The three men eat dinner together and decide that they will need to come up with a plan.
Silver Lion and his men eat at the Pink Blossom and Madam Blossom makes it clear that when the Governor’s army arrives they will want gold AND lives. She leads the Lions down into the underground caverns beneath the brothel and shows them a hidden safe where they can store the gold. The Lions agree to allow her to hold their gold and retain her independence when the Governor’s men are defeated.
Jack Knife makes it clear that the Governor’s men will arrive by dawn. A little girl arrives and tells the trio of a secret way to reach the Lions. Jack Knife suggests that she lead them to where they need to go.
Silver Lion and one of his accomplices have wired the Lion’s den with explosives as a trap for the Governor’s men. Silver Lion laughs and celebrates he thinks that they’ve won but his accomplice notes that he has a tendency to celebrate much too early. In the morning, Silver Lion will give the order for the village to be razed and the whores all killed.
Madam Blossom addresses her workers informing them of the precarious situation they are in. She informs them that power must be seized through sex and violence. She tells them that by the time the night is done, they will see who is standing and who is on their knees. Lady Blossom announces that the Lions may have their share of the women. We pan over the various rooms and their occupants. Lady Silk, applying makeup in solitude, is taken by Brass Body against her will. In the middle of the sexual escapades, the prostitutes begin to kill their clients with darts concealed beneath their tongues. The prostitutes descend on the Lion Clan, revealing themselves to be highly trained ninjas.
Lady Silk attempts to poison Brass Body but his skin turns to metal. He awakens and beats her to the edge of death for her betrayal. The Blacksmith, Zen-Yi, and Jack Knife begin their assault. The Blacksmith arrives to find Lady Silk as she dies. Enraged, he enters the fray, beating the crap out of anyone he can find.
Bronze Lion attacks Lady Blossom with his Lion claw staff. A vicious melee continues as they duck, parry, and weave around one another. Using her blade fan, Lady Blossom is able to disarm Bronze Lion forcing him to catch the fan with his hands to prevent the needles from penetrating his throat. Her workers use scrolls to catch and whip the staff out of Bronze Lion’s possession and send it flying towards the little girl who led our trio of heroes into the brothel undetected. Lady Blossom bolts catching the staff just in time but giving Bronze Lion the opening he needed to throw her needle fan into her back killing her. However, her fan was laced with poison and he dies soon after.
Zen-Yi chases Silver Lion into a hall of mirrors. Silver Lion taunts Zen-Yi about the Gold Lion’s death as the mirrors rotate obscuring his position. The fighting intensifies until Zen-Yi kicks Silver Lion into the vault room. Before Silver Lion can regain his footing, Zen-Yi brutally beats him into a position beneath the gold. With his knife, Zen-Yi slices the ropes suspending the gold over the vault which cascades down onto Silver Lion killing him.
Jack Knife and Dagger (Daniel Wu) are engaged in an equally vicious fight. Dagger uses chains to try and choke Jack Knife, who uses his double bladed Jack Knife to break the chains and kick Dagger back. When Dagger tries to whip Jack Knife, the chains catch in the gears and cogs of a nearby Water Wheel. Dragging him back towards the gears, Dagger pleads for help screaming that the two men are really not so different. Jack Knife laughs, lighting a cigarette revealing that as the Emperor’s Emissary, Jack Knife has never quit until his job was done nor betrayed the trust of his lord. Dagger is pulled back into the gears and crushed to a bloody pulp.
As the fighting winds down, The Blacksmith finds and challenges Brass Body to a fight. Witnessing Brass Body’s ability to turn his body to metal, the Blacksmith is surprised having heard that the clan who possessed this ability was long dead. Brass Body grins and confesses to exterminating his own clan. The Blacksmith uses his Iron Fists to beat Brass Body around but Brass Body holds his own. Noticing blood on Brass Body’s neck where Lady Silk’s needle pricked him, The Blacksmith begins a brutal assault, beating Brass Body into the wall before delivering a powerful strike to the man’s head piercing it and killing him.
The Governor’s men surround the brothel and announce that if the gold is not brought out immediately they will blow it straight to hell. Jack Knife shows up on the roof and announces that, as the Emperor’s Emissary Jackson Wales, everything is under control. Zen-Yi approaches the Blacksmith in the morning and tells him that even though he lost his father, he gained a brother. Jack Knife bids Thaddeus adieu and rides off with the Governor’s men. After they leave, the Blacksmith returns to his shop and destroys it done with ever making weapons again.
You can send in your spoiler to other movies by going here.