Starring: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Yasuaki Kurata, Eva Huang, Wong Baoqiang, Kang Yu
Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen
Directed by Yip Wai Man
The adventures of He Ying continues in the next chapter of The Iceman saga!
*Beware Spoilers for Iceman, Part 1*
After He Ying takes a nosedive off of a bridge in part one, we pick up hours afterward, where he winds up being saved by Yuang Long, his commanding officer and friend (Yam) who suddenly arrives in the future 18 years before He Ying gets there (and this goes completely unexplained how he did it without the time travel device). Together they seem to team up to return to the past, but He Ying finds too late that Yang simply wants to go back to the past and rule the world, and they kidnap May in order to make He Ying recite the incantation to activate the device. This he does, but he and May also follow them to the past after a quick interlude on a train in 1927’s China. How this has anything to do with Part 3 is anyone’s guess. Once they wind up in the past, the full story of what led to He Ying’s frame job is revealed, and He Ying, along with May, will try to keep his village from being destroyed…again.
Donnie Yen is a bit better this time out as He Ying, now that we find out more about his motivations and the relationships he had with his former elite guard brothers. Simon Yam hams it up, now that he gets to drop all pretenses of being anything other than The Bad Guy. Eva Huang as May does a bit of a better job here as she gets to do more, but I still think a more seasoned actress would’ve been better here. The person who gets short-served here is Wong Baoqiang as Sao. He merely gets a mention that he’s been killed off from the previous film, and he gets one lackluster fight scene here, making his presence completely without any merit or function except to watch him die again in a different way. This film also makes maddening leaps of logic. If Yang needed the Linga so badly, how the hell did he time travel himself ahead of He Ying? This is never explained at all. And what happened to the superhuman feats all parties did in the first film? Now they are suddenly, mostly human (I actually criticized this in the first film but even if you change this you HAVE to explain it!) and so the action suddenly isn’t as good as the previous film, and that film had problems. The scenes in the village are pretty good and add weight to the stakes, but it would’ve been better had we met any of the villagers in the first film, which would have made the stakes even greater, and what happens even more emotional than it ultimately was.
A change in directors may explain a lot of the differences between the films, but the story leaps and revelations are so all over the place that it’s hard to get a bead on where the story is going. The most interesting part, at least to me, was the fight between Yen and Kurata, which jumps through time, and finishes in this awesome place between time and space. I wish the audience would’ve been treated to more of this place. Now there is one important thing to know going into this film, and it’s even more crazy than the first, and maybe this film’s biggest sin:
NOTHING RESOLVES ITSELF
That’s right. No matter what happens here, it doesn’t resolve the story at all, even with the deaths of important characters. Nothing from the first film is resolved. Even in a film series where time is fluid, there needs to be a resolution of at least a few story threads, but this doesn’t happen here. This may be what swings this film, and this series, to failure. Part 3 is all that can save it, and it better resolve everything spectacularly. But there has to BE a part 3, and that’s now in doubt.
Normally I would go into the actions scenes, but aside from the finale, nothing here is very good. Kurata vs Yen is awesome, for however much of it is actually Kurata doing his own fighting (something I doubt highly at this point. He’s one of my favorite action actors of all time, but even I frowned at his participation in this) and Wong Baoqiang’s fight with Kang Yu was really weak, and if you’ve seen Kung Fu Killer then you know what Wong can bring to the party, so understand that a great opportunity was missed here.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4.5
A slick production doesn’t make a film great. It’s not as good as the first film, which was merely ok at the best moments. Leaving every plotline unresolved is just bad writing. The question really is will they get a Part 3 to right the wrongs?