Good, Clean Fun: The Man with the Iron Fists


Don’t sleep on Kung Fu, my loves. For real, taking in the action, holding my breath while swords, feet, and fists fly, is one of my favorite things. Yes, I love pontificating on the sociological imagination, the New Jim Crow, strolling museums, sampling panang curry across this great gritty city of ours…but hey, Betty is multi-facted, hear? And a good kung fu flick rivals any of the reality TV guilty pleasures you can name. I’m no aficionado, but here are some of my favorites: Shogun Assassin, Fist of Fury, 36th Chamber of Shaolin, and of course Enter the Dragon. These films are like visual comfort food. Like biscuits and gravy, or mac and cheese, kung fu movies and the weekend belong together. Well, a recent kung fu craving drove me to check out RZA’s directorial debut, The Man with the Iron Fists. This was the right decision.

I have long been a fan of RZA. Wu-Tang Clan is one of my first hip hop loves, and RZA is one of the most successful members of the group, continuing to produce tracks, compose, launch solo projects, and building his acting chops in over 20 films. The brotha is not afraid to hustle and push into new territory, making him an exceptional model for young folks aspiring to break into the entertainment industry. He is not a name on a dusty, once popular CD, he is funneling his creativity into a variety of mediums, all of which are inclusive to his people. Note to aspiring youngins: a career that begins in hip hop can grow into a credible body of work. However, you must work on your craft, and oh yeah, have talent.

Damn, I digress.

Ok, so I settle into the exceptionally comfortable recliners at Lakewood Mall Cinemas, and allow RZA to take me on a trip to Jungle Village. And as you know, Betty loves a wild ride. The athleticism and artistry of the fight scenes were tight. The film was packed with breathtaking, acrobatic all-that battles, and the classic kung fu combo of flashbacks, blood spurting, and a fallen hero who rises up to take down the invincible villain. The unmatched physicality and agility of the Gemini twins warranted several fist bumps with my companion. And the cheesy overacting and predictable lines were as delicious as they come.

And let’s not forget the ladies. No kung fu flick would be complete without the sensuality of beautiful, and sometimes deadly, women. Lucy Liu (pictured below) took a piece of my heart in Kill Bill, but she’s taken residence in my fantasy world on this one. Sporting one of my favorite sets of lady freckles, Lucy plays Madame Blossom, the quietly intense madam at the Pink Blossom, the town brothel. Ever the gracious and poised hostess, Madame Blossom won’t hesitate to slice your throat. Love it when the lady knife cuts both ways.

You got monks, ladies, mysterious pasts, and more blades and than you can count. What more could you want? Check out the trailer here.

Real talk, no one is winning an Oscar for this one. But RZA has won my heart for pulling this off. I’m so going again.




Show some love to a local treasure

What frustrates me most about those that bash Tacoma, is that they are content to remain unaware of the beauty, charms, swag, and blessings that happen in my city every, damn, day.  My city lives, breathes, and pushes day in and day out.  And her people respond.  And her people are my people.  They grind, they cry, they hide, they fight, and they strive to keep their head above water despite the systems that work against them.  It is in this tension that I serve my city.  To that end, part of serving T-town is making people aware of what goes on here.  Brown Betty’s Go See’s will tell you what’s crackin’ in our area.  Feel free to send me announcements to share.

We are so fortunate to have Native Quest Cultural Center right here in Tacoma!  It is a mind-blowing, and incredibly comprehensive resource for both Natives and non-Natives to learn about, celebrate, and honor Native American art, culture, and experiences.  Complete with a coffee shop, bookstore, library and museum, this is a wonderful day trip to take with your kids, mentees, and friends.  An inclusive and welcoming environment, Native Quest offers a monthly Indian market featuring the work of local artists as well as weekly classes and entertainment.  Very soon, Native Quest will be having a benefit for honoring Native American women veterans. Here’s another upcoming festival:

Support this center!  Raise the expectation for cultural appreciation and cross cultural engagement in our city.

A Must See

Hi all!  What a weekend! I went to the opening of the HIDE/SEEK exhibit at our very own Tacoma Arts Museum.  A provocative and compelling exhibit, HIDE/SEEK spans about 50 years of American portraits through the unique and striking lens of sexuality and gender identity. You can read more about the exhibit here:

Incredibly eye opening and haunting, HIDE/SEEK demonstrates what an integral part gender roles, sexuality, and sexual politics play in the development of American culture.  Early paintings, sketches, portraits, even 8mm videos weaved together the collective pain, pride, turmoil, community, and incredible innovation of the human mind and heart.  Especially powerful were the pieces featuring works from artists expressing the struggles of the HIV/AIDS movement (Bill T. Jones) and Keith Haring, left.  I also loved  a beautiful portrait of James Baldwin that conveyed his self-imposed isolation, and the difficulties of the intersection of race and sexuality.

As the ONLY West coast museum featuring this exhibition, I give mad props to the Tacoma Art Museum.  The 253 is often overlooked  for big name, controversial or edgier events, and I’m thrilled at this opportunity for our city!  Please go out and see!  $10/adult for admission, or go to FREE day on the third Thursdays of every month.