Polar Rescue Blu-ray Review


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Lo Chi Leung
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Donnie Yen, Cecilia Han, Jia Bing, Tang Xu
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Language ‏ : ‎ Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Mandarin Chinese (Stereo)
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Well Go Usa
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ China
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Blu-ray
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 43 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ March 26, 2024

        There seems to be a consistent pattern with martial arts action stars in Hong Kong and China, where they inevitably reach an age where their physicality is in decline and choose that time to make a purely dramatic film. Jackie Chan had the historical drama, 1911 (2011). Jet Li made Ocean Heaven (2010). And Donnie Yen has followed suit with Polar Rescue (previously titled Come Back Home), a film steeped in melodrama surrounding a child gone missing in a mountain snowstorm. Melodrama often works best when paired with other elements like action and suspense, but even these sequences are not enough to distract from the contrived and emotionally manipulative plot points of Polar Rescue.


        The film begins by introducing a happy family on a day of their mountain vacation in northeast China, enjoying the pleasures of a resort before setting out to visit a nearby lake. When the family patriarch De (Yen) momentarily gets their vehicle stuck in the snow, his 8-year-old son Lele (Yuan Jinhui) recklessly tries to wave down a passing car, nearly causing an accident. Ignoring the pleas his wife Xuan (Cecilia Han), De briefly leaves Lele behind to teach him a lesson and take their younger daughter to use the restroom. When the family returns, Lele is nowhere to be found and soon a full-blown search rescue is needed to find him as the weather turns harsher.


        In order to stretch this extremely simple plot into feature-film length, the plot takes increasingly ridiculous twists and turns. De is forced to combat the apathetic approach of certain local members of law enforcement, comes up against a group of opportunistic kidnappers, faces a full-on avalanche, and traverses a lake with dangerously thin ice. Along with an escalation in the events, the melodrama is also amped up in the climax of the film. It culminates in a predictable and emotionally manipulative resolution which makes the set-up feel even more contrived as a result. Can Yen handle the dramatic material? Yes, much better than some of the other cast members, but even his performance can’t save the film from its worst tendencies.


        The Blu-ray release of Polar Rescue doesn’t come with special features, or many other reasons for the upgrade. While some of the sequences feature CGI effects that tend to look better in high definition, the priority is in the emotional storyline rather than the spectacle. And the effects often reflect these priorities.


Entertainment Value: 6/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10

Historical Significance:  2/10

Special Features: 0/10


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