Review: Iceman (2014)

Starring Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Wang Baoqiang, Eva Huang, Kang Yu

Fight Choreography by Don Salvitti, Donnie Yen

Directed by Law Wing-Cheung

Donnie Yen, red hot after his Ip Man films, tackles a remake of the 1989 HK classic Iceman Cometh with Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah. So how does this new version do? Is it a grand slam or a horrible car crash?

The true answer is somewhere in the middle…

Donnie Yen stars as He Ying , and imperial guard for the Ming Dynasty, who finds a time travel device in India, and is betrayed while transporting it back to the Emperor, and subsequently is frozen in nice for 400 years along with two of the guards sent to kill him, Sao and Neihu. They are all accidently thawed out when the transport carrying them crashes, release them from their cryofreeze chambers. Now in the present day, He Ying must elude the guards still chasing him and retrieve the key to time travel back to his age in order to save his village…

The story here is just, well, meh. Nothing here is original, and takes its queues from films like The Matrix to the Terminator series, and this film makes the cardinal sin of simply being “Part 1” and not giving a complete ending, which makes for a dissatisfying ending and an end credit sequence that basically shows a scene from what is to be Part 2. Donnie Yen is merely Okay as He Ying, the time displaced soldier. We don’t really get much of a fish-out-of-water story here. Just a few funny bits and then on to the action, which is in and of itself weak. The story jumps back and forth in time, and leaves the audience to figure a lot of things out before explaining them in flashback, which to me is a lazy way to create suspense. Not having all of the information at hand does NOT create a suspenseful scene between characters. Also, Yen and Huang, as a potential love interest show absolutely no chemistry. Yen needed an older, more seasoned actress for this part. Simon Yam is okay here as well, but is a nondescript bad guy whose motivations we don’t find out until nearly the end of the film.are also a lot of comedy moments that just fall flat. Newsflash: Donnie Yen and comedy don’t really work well together. The camera work is all over the place, trying its best to justify this film being shown in 3D, and fails miserably in nearly every scene. 

The fights here are largely CG and wire assisted, which is completely unnecessary given the talent involved. The final fight, on a busy street bridge, is basically nothing that hasn’t been seen in bunch of recent superhero films. Which, in all honestly, is what Iceman is. It’s a superhero film, with He Ying and his fellow combatants doing crazy jumps, falls from buildings, showing superhuman strength, and as we see this over and over again there is never a doubt He Ying would survive just about anything. So there is no suspense or edge-of-your-seat moments that grab you, because no one actually gets hurt. The bridge fight does have a few well choreographed moments, but taken as a whole entity is just as weak as the rest of this film. Maybe Part 2 will bring things into focus.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

This is a middling film with middling characters with “meh” as action. So that equals an average grade. There is nothing special about this film except how unspectacular it actually is.