RZA names his five favourite films ever made
(Credit: David Shankbone)

Old School Archives

RZA names his five favourite films ever made

RZA is the inimitable de facto leader of the legendary hip-hop outfit Wu-Tang Clan. Born Robert Diggs, RZA has taken charge of producing most of the collective’s records and has also worked on many of its member’s solo albums too. The hip-hop icon is cousins with his bandmates Ol’ Dirty Bastard and GZA.

RZA credits do not end there, though. As well as his work in the music industry, the rap icon has been involved in the film industry, too, scoring Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2. He’s taken the directing reigns on films like The Man with the Irons Fists and has acted in several productions over the years. As to RZA’s favourite films of all time, we can take a look at his selections as per a feature with Rotten Tomatoes.

Like many cinema lovers, RZA holds profound admiration for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 mob drama The Godfather. Widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, RZA is in agreement. He said, “You know, that is very powerful to me. Those films resonated with me throughout the rest of my life because of the family values they instilled.”

RZA departs from the status quo with his next pick, though, which is The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (The Master Killer), directed by Liu Chia-liang and released in 1978. The martial arts and philosophy of Buddhism is what drew RZA to the film, but after watching it, he left with the understanding that groups other than his own were being oppressed. “And from a single word,” he said. “which was ‘Shaolin’, our hero was able to go find himself and find the way to help bring the end to that oppression.”

Following that, though, RZA can’t help but name another universally-admired movie for inclusion on his favourites list: Quentin Tarantino’s now-classic 1994 movie Pulp Fiction. “Pulp Fiction was the first film to me that had a descrambling formula of storytelling, accompanied with the power of perfect dialogue,” RZA said. “This moved me artistically.”

Another film that RZA’s fans might not have seen is Carmen Jones, directed by Otto Preminger and released in 1954. The musical film has an all-black cast, including the late Harry Belafonte. “The musicality of it, the acting, the dance numbers, you know,” RZA said of the film. These people brought it to life in a magical way. This movie I watched dozens of times; it’s a very long movie, so to watch it dozens of times shows you that I’ve committed some of my life to this film.”

Finally, RZA rounds off the list of his favourite films with a film that he was a part of, Ridley Scott’s 2007 movie American Gangster. “Not only is it a film that I’m a part of,” RZA explained, “but the reason I’m so invested in this movie is that Hollywood invested over $100 million into a black man’s story. This doesn’t happen a lot. It’s a story that captured a time in Harlem when drugs were rampant; music was growing, and this whole culture was building up.”

RZA’s five favourite movies of all time:

  • The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
  • The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Liu Chia-liang, 1978)
  • Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
  • Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954)
  • American Gangster (Ridley Scott, 2007)