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Cord (Jeff Cooper in the The Iron Circle movie) face closeup

Cord

(The Circle of Iron)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game


“Tie two birds together. Even though they have four wings they cannot fly.”
– The Blind Man


Context

The Circle of Iron was a classic karate style fighting movie from 1978 with a memorable story and a twist at the end. This profile has S P O I L E R S about the bulk of the movie.

Cord is a martial arts fighter. Today he’d be called a striker. In the 1970’s he’d be called a karate fighter or kung-fu fighter. He’s played by Jeff Cooper, who also was Dr. Simon Ellby on Dallas.

Bruce Lee helped create this story. He wanted to capture not only the spirit of martial arts but his Zen philosophy. This 1973, unreleased movie script was going to be called The Silent Flute.


Background

  • Real Name: Cord.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None, he is his own man.
  • Base of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’3″ Weight: 215 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond


Powers & Abilities

A fit and muscular martial artist with enough renown to get placed in a tournament without being part of a group. Cord’s fighting style employs effective high kicks, sweeps, and counterstriking. He likes to start with a low stance and switches his lead hand often.

Cord knows basic survival techniques for the area where he lives. Hot during the day and cold at night. So, knowledge of fire building is essential.

Cord will sleep in a crossed legged sitting position with his chin on his chest.


The setting for Cord’s journey

The arid land is barren producing mostly scrub-grass and Joshua trees. It’s mostly sandy desert, somewhere in the far East. There are large walled Arabian-like cities but the vast landscape is filled with nomads, farmers and bands of brigands.

The Zen Buddhist philosophy of enlightenment mixes with the 1970’s free-love beliefs of the “hippie generation”.

The martial arts, discipline, and tradition are held in high esteem. It’s not uncommon to encounter men fighting to the death. It’s treated like a popular sport, with the general population watching, cheering, and praising the winner.

A good martial artist can make a name for himself gaining reputation. This means honor for the fighter and his group. Many young fighters are eager to do just that.

This story is centered around fighters gaining enough fame to represent their group and seek the book of enlightenment. It’s revealed that many have made the journey and many have died. The ones who are successful, if they have a flair for it, may decide to become a step in that journey for future generations.

The seeker may take on the role of keeper of the book of enlightenment by defeating its current keeper. Being the keeper is a particularly honorable duty.


History

Cord competed in a martial arts tournament. The winner would earn the right to seek out Zetan, an infamous warrior, and his book of enlightenment. A bye  got Cord to the finals but he lost when he broke the rules; striking his opponent while he was down. The crowd booed him and the judge disqualified him. His opponent Morthond won. Cord was ejected from the tournament grounds.

Cord (Jeff Cooper in the The Iron Circle movie) near an aqueduct

Instead of giving up, Cord waited near the gate of the city. When Morthond left, Cord followed. He was intent on finding Zetan.

Near sunset Cord became intrigued by a wandering blind man (David Carradine). After a moment’s hesitation Cord followed him, allowing Morthond to give him the slip.

Ask the blind man, he saw it all

The blind man was set upon by robbers, thinking him easy prey. But he was well versed in martial arts and the use of the bo staff. The blind man mysteriously vanished. Cord found the blind man the next morning by following the sound of his flute playing.

The blind man shared some wisdom revealing the secret to defeating monkey style fighters. But then he mysteriously vanished again. Morthond was mortally wounded by the first trial, a skilled martial artist known as the Monkey King. Morthond knew he would die, and beseeched Cord to take the medallion and finish the quest.

Cord (Jeff Cooper in the The Iron Circle movie) fights the Monkey King

Cord faces the Monkey King.

Following the blind man’s advice Cord fought and defeated the Monkey King. The Monkey King then told him to embrace the west wind and find a rose near a wilderness. There would be his second trial.

He travelled by foot across the desert. Fireworks at night drew him to a passing carnival. When he saw a beautiful woman gazing on him, he assumed this was the “rose” he sought, so he followed her.

A man at a seat of honor, Changsha, wore a crown and said Cord’s “rose” was his ninth wife, Tara. Cord, undeterred, asked about the second trial. Changsha then became serious.

A second fighter with a silver medallion had arrived just before Cord and challenged Changsha. Soon they fought. Changsha took that fighter’s life in the contest. Cord eagerly challenged Changsha but would have to wait till morning.

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

That night, Tara, came to Cord’s room. It didn’t take long and he was enchanted with her beauty. He gave up his vow of chastity and asked her to be his forever. Cord was extremely happy but in the morning, he awoke on the desert sand as if it had all been a mirage. Upon a nearby sand dune he found the truth; Tara had been slain by Changsha and hung upon a wooden cross.

Cord pursued Changsha across the desert but couldn’t find him. He dreamed of meeting the physical embodiment of death. Cord was not afraid and mocked the being death until it retreated.

Cord (Jeff Cooper in the The Iron Circle movie) in the setting sun light

Cord would again meet the blind man and begged him to be his teacher. The blind man agreed but on the condition Cord never question his actions or teachings. They were pursued by mounted soldiers. Cord pulled off an impressive kick that dropped a pursuing horse.

The blind man did three things that seemed odd to Cord at the time, the last he couldn’t stand. Cord demanded answers then departed.

Eventually, he would again meet Changsha. Surprisingly, he blamed himself for Tara’s death and not Changsha. They fought on the beach but to a stalemate. Changsha relented and gave Cord passage to an island where Zetan resided.

The book

Cord was immediately presented to Zetan. Zetan, Cord learned, was a peace loving man who had no desire to fight. Instead Zetan implored Cord to enter a ceremony that would make him the keeper of the book and free Zetan. Zetan tried to persuade Cord to consider taking on the role of keeper of the book without looking inside the book itself just as he had done.

Cord wasn’t sure if this was a trick but demanded to see the book of enlightenment.

Cord looked inside and laughed out loud at what he saw there.


Description

Cord wears his hair shoulder length and parted in the middle. He’s big, broad chested man. He wears a yellow cord around his head when tournament fighting.

Cord travels with very few weapons trusting in his fighting ability to protect himself. The land where he lives is hot and arid, Cord wears little and only carries a day’s worth of food and water. He wears a fleece lined vest.


Personality

Cord has great confidence in his martial arts skills. He displays bravado and seems a bit arrogant when challenged. Even in tournament, he’ll break rules as he sees fit to win. Cord loves to fight, even gambling with his own life, and laughs heartily when he wins.

Cord (Jeff Cooper in the The Iron Circle movie) and a corpse

Cord is smart enough to understand he’s not the wisest man around and he seems to accept that. He sought the blind man for a teacher and the book of enlightenment because he thought it contained wisdom. Cord seems somewhat superstitious but I think that comes more from the time period he is born into and not because of naivety.

Cord has taken a vow of chastity. I assume to help him to focus on his martial arts training.


Quotes

Judge: “There was no error, you hit him after he was down. There are rules and you have broken them. You have chosen to break almost every rule in the contest. You wear no fighting clothes, you belong to no group.”
Cord: “I am my own man.”
Judge: “Hehe, then why have you come here if you need no one but yourself ?”
Cord: “I’ve come a long way to fight for the right to find Zetan and defeat him and to see what is in the book he guards.”
Judge: “What do you know of Zetan and his book of enlightenment ?”
Cord: “Only that it’s a book, that it contains all the wisdom of the world.”

“Morthond is a dancer, I’m a fighter !”

“I will defeat this invisible Zetan and I will see what is in the book !”

(After watching the blind man in action)
“Last night, I saw you perform miracles. If Zetan’s skills are even greater than yours… I’m not ready for him. With all my training and both my eyes I couldn’t survive one second against you.”

(After defeating the Monkey King) “Am I a beggar with a begging bowl now ? Hahahaha, I put you in my bowl. Hahaha.”

“I’ve been taking a journey that was indicated in the palm of my hand.”

“A year ago I took a vow of chastity. A day ago I broke it. Gladly, because I realize we are born to love. But what I did then was worse than taking any foolish vow; I tried to possess what I loved. I didn’t know then that the embrace of love held too tightly – can destroy the one you love.”

Cord (Jeff Cooper in the The Iron Circle movie) in the arena

Cord: “This time I’m leaving !”
The blind man: “You must stop making promises.”

“I want an answer not all this philosophy.”

Zetan: “The seekers fight their way here year after year. Willing. Eager. To pay a terrible price to see what’s in that book. When they fling it open in blazing expectation to find all the answers to all life’s questions. What do they find ?”
Cord: “Themselves.”


DC Universe History

Cord seems to be a generic determined fighter with an interesting story being woven around him. He could be used as is, if you just want another tournament fighter.

He probably shouldn’t be placed in our time period. Cord could appear alongside Conan or Tarzan but these heroic characters would seem like magicians to Cord.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cord

A 227 points Character.

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Martial Artist
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 04 Wealth: 000
Init: 013 HP: 015

Skills:
Artist (Flute): 03, Martial Artist: 05, Weaponry (thrown missile): 05

Advantages:
Expertise (Desert Survival).

Connections:
The blind man (Low).

Drawbacks:
Minor Irrational Attraction to confidence.

Equipment:

  • Heavy Shuriken (x2) [Body 04, EV 03, Grenade Drawback].
  • Shoulder bag with supplies, including flint and a steel knife for fire building.

Design notes

Occasionally Cord needs to hide. This is done unskilled.

Height and Weight were guesses based on Jeff Cooper standing next to David Carradine who is 6’1″.


Taglines

  1. Bruce Lee’s spirit lives in…Circle of Iron
  2. The Challenge Of A Lifetime…
  3. It challenges your courage, tests your manhood and throws you into an arena of life and death.

By Ethan Roe

Source of Character: The 1978 movie Circle of Iron, character played by Jeff Cooper.

Helper(s): IMBD .

Writeup completed on the 18th of April, 2017.

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