Writer: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“The Iceman Cometh”
Back in 1989, there was this Hong Kong martial arts fantasy called "The Iceman Cometh". Highly regarded as one of the best Yuen Biao's movies, "The Iceman Cometh" was a cheesy but reasonably entertaining movie to be checked out for. And now, flash forward to the present, director Law Wing-Cheong ("Punished") and martial arts superstar Donnie Yen attempts to recreate the 1989 version's trademark mix of action, comedy, romance and fantasy elements and magnify them with a higher budget. Prior to the release of this remake, which simply entitled as "Iceman", this big-budget martial arts fantasy blockbuster has been heavily promoted since day one. However, despite all the massive hype, "Iceman" is a huge disappointment that truly shocked this reviewer beyond belief.
In this remake, Donnie Yen plays Ming Dynasty royal bodyguard He Ying, who is awaken from 400 years of being frozen in ice and finds himself trapped in the present day. Complicating the matters further are his two childhood friends-turned-sworn enemies, Sao (Wang Baoqiang) and Niehu (Kang Yu), who both followed him to the present day as well. Apparently in the past, in 1621, we learn that He Ying has been accused for conspiring with Japanese pirates and was immediately stripped off his rank and sentenced to death. However, He Ying manages to break free and tries to escape, only to end up buried in a snowstorm along with Sao and Niehu during a downhill chase. Meanwhile, in present-day Hong Kong, He Ying tries to adjust to the modern lifestyle where he subsequently meets a beautiful nightclub hostess May (Huang Shengyi), who offers him a place to stay while taking advantage of him because he carries plenty of gold ingots with him. As Sao and Niehu tries to track down He Ying, corrupt Police Commissioner Cheung (Simon Yam) and shady politician Tang (Lam Suet) are both particularly interested to search for the "Golden Wheel of Time", a mystical Indian device capable to transport people through time.
The biggest problem of this movie is its messy plot, which is made worse by awfully embarrassing comedy (especially during the present-day Hong Kong scenes as well as the unbelievable inclusion of a misplaced toilet humour - e.g. watching Donnie Yen pee long distance or watching him cause the toilet bowl literally shooting off into the sky with faeces all over the place!), bad dialogues and a tepid romance between He Ying and May. Even more insulting is that we hardly see the struggle between these three Ming Dynasty-era characters (He Ying, Sao and Niehu) in the modern-day lifestyle.
Majority of the cast here is a letdown. As the lead actor of the movie, Donnie Yen looks uncomfortable playing the kind of character that requires him to act both silly and dramatic at the same time. The rest of the actors, including Huang Shengyi and Wang Baoqiang, fail to leave any lasting impression to their underwritten roles. Only Simon Yam benefits the most in this movie. Even though we have seen him play the same bad-guy character many times before, at least he shows enough dramatic weight to turn his role equally worthwhile.
Director Law Wing-Cheong, who often worked with Johnnie To as an associate director, is clearly out of his league when comes to handle such a big-budget production with a mishmash genre like "Iceman". As a result, his overall direction is incoherent and he also has little sense of pace to drive his movie forward.
As for Donnie Yen being the action director here, it's rather surprising that much of his fight choreography lacks the typical urgency we often seen in his past efforts. Even the much-talked about fight scene between him and Wang Baoqiang in the nightclub is disappointingly brief and unsatisfying. The only worthwhile action scene is the heavily-promoted climactic finale, where Donnie Yen uses large chain to square off against Wang Baoqiang and Kang Yu at the Tsing Ma Bridge.
With so much budget granted for this highly-expensive production, it's such a waste that "Iceman" ends up being a sub-par effort. And just so you know, "Iceman" is divided into two movies, which leaves this reviewer wondering; are the filmmakers here overly confident with their production until they are willing to split "Iceman" into two movies? Now, this reviewer can only hope the second chapter of "Iceman" makes amends and improves upon this first movie's heavy flaws.Cinema Online, 16 April 2014