Can The Defenders Make Us Forget Iron Fist?

Disappointing Fight Scenes

If any of the Marvel dramas demanded dazzling fight choreography, it’s Iron Fist, whose star is a kung-fu superhero. Unfortunately, however, it features the most mundane action scenes to date, left in the dust by Daredevil. Even when his chi malfunctions, and he's unable to summon the power of the Iron Fist, Danny Rand should be the most skilled combatant in any showdown; he's a living weapon, after all.

By far the most entertaining fight of the season doesn't arrive until the eighth episode, injecting some purpose into Danny, Colleen and Claire Temple's otherwise-baffling trip to Anzhou, China (they were supposedly pursuing Gao, who hadn't really been hiding). Between numerous shots of their Hyundai rental car, Danny confronts the guard Zhou Chen (played by Lewis Tan, who reportedly auditioned for the role of Iron Fist), whose charisma and drunken fist fighting style combine to make an otherwise-pointless sequence worthwhile. The other noteworthy fight doesn't involve Danny at all: It's the emotionally charged sword fight between Colleen Wing and her mentor Bakuto. Unfolding at night in the pouring rain, the sequence isn't particularly original in its setting or choreography, but the shared history of the two characters, and the stakes involved, more than make up for any shortcomings -- that is, until Davos intervenes, ruining Colleen's moment.

Does The Defenders change any of that? In a word, yes. The free-for-all in the third episode that pits Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand against Alexandra's soldiers and Elektra takes the signature hallway fight of Marvel's Netflix dramas to another level. It's perhaps not the technical achievement of its single-shot predecessors, but it showcases the differences in fighting styles of the four heroes and, better still for those so disappointed by Iron Fist's action scenes, it makes you suspect Danny Rand actually may be a martial-arts master. The initial meeting between Danny and Luke is enjoyable, too, as each of them swiftly discovers the limits of his own power.

Arriving Aug. 18 on Netflix, the eight-episode Defenders stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Finn Jones as Danny Rand, Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse, Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, Scott Glenn as Stick, Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker, Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple and Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing.

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