Circle of Iron (1978)

Circle of Iron (1978)

“Whatever you think I am — or want me to be — I am.”

After being formally defeated in a fight overseen by a leader in a white robe (Roddy McDowell), a warrior (Jeff Cooper) seeking a mysterious seer named Zetan (Christopher Lee) finds unexpected assistance from a blind, martially-talented flute-player (David Carradine).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Character Arc
  • Christopher Lee Films
  • David Carradine Films
  • Eli Wallach Films
  • Fantasy
  • Martial Arts
  • Roddy McDowell Films
  • Search

This martial arts fantasy flick is perhaps best known as the movie Bruce Lee co-wrote and intended to star in before his untimely death. As a viewer not particularly well-versed in martial arts films, I can’t speak to the quality or nature of the fights — but the rest of the picture sure is a wacky, at-times surreal adventure. While Cooper is the nominal protagonist, Carradine steals the show as a blind flautist who may or may not be able to teach Cooper valuable lessons grounded in Eastern philosophy. Naturally, there’s plenty of ripe dialogue to enjoy:

“Are you waiting for fear to freeze my heart before you carve it out?”

and the fantasy sets are reasonably impressive. This one isn’t must-see for all film fanatics, but fans of the genre will likely want to check it out. Most surreal sequence: Eli Wallach explains his ten-year “tub cure” to Cooper.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • David Carradine’s tongue-in cheek performance(s)
  • Fine cinematography and outdoor sets

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look for its wacky cult flavor. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Circle of Iron (1978)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see… unless maybe you’re a teenage boy into martial rats / Zen; esp. if he longs to be called “The Chosen”.

    Mildly entertaining – and at least it moves along quickly enough, though it can still be a bit tedious in some of its pacing. I guess it slows down sometimes to replenish your Zen spirit.

    Early on, it borrows a bit from ‘Planet of the Apes’. Midway, inexplicably, there’s a dash of ‘The Seventh Seal’.

    I might almost recommend the film for Wallach’s genuinely humorous cameo as the man tortured by his own penis. … But I can’t quite, though I enjoyed him.

    The film takes itself rather seriously but it still doesn’t seem to mind being a bit silly. By the time it gets to Lee’s New Age-y cameo at the end (“There’s no enlightenment outside yourself.”?! Seriously?!), I just wanted the searched-for, long-talked-about “book” to be ‘Valley of the Dolls’! 😉

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