With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ICEMAN arrives today

Well Go USA
Iceman / Bing Fung: Chung Sang Chi Mun
Directed by Law Wing-Cheong
Starring Donnie Yen, Eva Huang, Wang Baoqiang,
Simon Yam, and Lam Suet
China/Hong Kong, 2014, 105 minutes

Iceman, a multi-genre film from Law Wing-Cheong, debuts today on Blu-ray™ (SLP $29.98), DVD (SLP $24.98) and Digital from Well Go USA Entertainment. It's a remake of the 1989 film Iceman Cometh which starred Yuen Biao and Maggie Cheung. (Can't comment on the original as I've never seen it.)

In this new version Donnie Yen plays He Ying, a 4th rank general of the Ming Emperor's royal bodyguards. In 1621 A.D. he is supposed to bring an important artifact from India to the emperor. Unfortunately he's wrongfully accused of treason for killing a Chinese official and for aiding Japanese pirates. He flees with two of his former comrades in "hot" pursuit down a snow covered mountain. (Who knew that the Chinese invented snowboarding by using their shields?) Most unfortunately they're buried in an avalanche, where they remain frozen until they are somehow discovered in contemporary China (the film doesn't explain this at all).

He Ying (Donnie Yen) in restraints

The three are brought to Hong Kong in secure containers, but on the way the truck in which they are being transported crashes off a bridge and the containers are broken. He Ying regains consciousness first and takes a not surprisingly huge -- and I do mean huge -- piss.

In Hong Kong, he meets May Kwok, played by Eva Huang, a.k.a. Shengyi Huang, who made her film debut in Kung Fu Hustle (2004). She's a young, hip, contemporary Hong Kong woman who also loves her mother, who's in a care facility for the elderly.

He Ying's pursuers, Sao (Wang Baogiang of Lost in Thailand) and Neihu, who's become fond of modern pistols, somehow became gang leaders (again, something not explained in the film) and use their underlings to try to locate him.

He's also pursued by Police Commissioner Cheung (Simon Yam) and Mr. Tang, a politician who's in cohorts with Cheung.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the film is multi-genre, which in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. Lots of movies have their toes in more than one genre. Unfortunately Iceman is a real mishmash, a confused blend of genres that doesn't have any real center. Since it stars Yen, one could say that it's fundamentally a martial arts action film. But even as such, it's not so hot. the action containing way too much wire-fu, in my opinion.

It's also partially a science fiction, time-travel fantasy and a "fish-out-of-water" tale, with comedic elements (an exploding toilet, as well as the aforementioned huge piss) and a bit of romance thrown in to boot.

May (Eva Huang) and He Ying (Donnie Yen) visit her mother

Oh, and it was originally filmed in 3D, so many scenes contain sophomoric shots that were obviously intended to wow audiences with a "ain't this thing coming out of the screen at you really neat?" quality.

It's also important to note that Iceman is actually the first of a planned multi-film story. (Iceman 2 is in post-production and is scheduled to be released in February 2015 in China.) Thus, this Iceman really should be called Iceman, Part 1, or Iceman, Vol. 1, like the Kill Bill films. Iceman's ending leaves one hanging in mid-story.

The action scenes are okay, but nothing special, and again, there's a lot of wire-fu.

Personally, I think the best thing the film has going for it are Eva Huang's lovely, slim sensual legs.

- Audio Options:
  - Chinese 5.1 DTS HDMA
  - Chinese 2.0 Stereo
  - English 5.1 HD DTS
  - Spanish Dolbt 5.1
  - French DOlby 5.1
- Subtitles:
   - English
  - Spanish
  - French
  - Off
- Bonus:
  - Making Of (a seven-part featurette)
  - Trailer

AsianCineFest Rating: 2 out of 4 stars; mediocre, somewhat of a disappointment considering the talent involved.

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