Actors: Donnie Yen, Wang Baoqiang, Eva Huang, Simon Yam
Director: Law Wing Cheong
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Run Time: 104 minutes
Donnie Yen has somehow gone from one of the most impressive martial arts action stars working today to becoming nothing more than a celebrity face for the latest CGI-filled blockbuster in Chinese cinema. Iceman is the latest of these poorly constructed vehicles of mass entertainment, mashing up period costume drama with modern police procedural, all filtered through the expectations of logic usually lowered for a comic book movie. There is action and humor every fifteen-minutes, all meant to entertain while distracting from the ridiculousness bursting from every frame of this film. And just in case the open-ended resolution of the film’s climax doesn’t completely turn away the audience, there are plans for a sequel to follow.
Donnie Yen stars as Ho Ying, a Ming Dynasty palace guard who is betrayed by three sworn brothers and framed for traitorous betrayal. Before having the chance to clear his name and find the real culprit, Ying is accidentally frozen in time for 400 years by a freak avalanche. When he awakes in the year 2013, Ying is still determined to clear his name, which is now historically recorded as being a traitor. His three compatriots and suspected villains were also frozen, and their thaw revives the battle in modern times.
As convoluted as the plot is, there is actually very little going on beneath the surface. Logic is passed on for sequences of absurd action, most of which made possible through the computer effects that show the exaggerated strength of the frozen guards. Apparently their martial arts abilities make them nearly superhuman in the modern world of weakness, so that they can battle in the middle of traffic without worries of being harmed. Superhero films are more believable than much of Iceman, which is about as mindless as a blockbuster can get. None of the characters are substantial enough to care about, possibly because they spend enough time digitally inserted into action sequences that they don’t feel like flesh-and-blood humans as much as pawns for each of the special effects shots.
The Blu-ray release includes a making-of featurette, as well as a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
Special Features: 2.5/10