After being accused of treason, Ming imperial guard Ying is frozen in an avalanche along with two of his former comrades. 300 years later he is awoken in 21st century Hong Kong where he attempts to live a normal life, aided by opportunistic young woman May. However, unbeknownst to him, his enemies have also awoken.
A remake of 1989 Hong Kong actioner The Iceman Cometh, Iceman takes the basic concept of its source material but little else, instead creating a story with numerous disconnected strands, none of which seem to go anywhere. Most prominent is the romance between Ying and May, although little enough actually happens to even call it that, while Ying’s ex-brothers in arms Sao and Niehu spend their time rising in the criminal underworld. That the imperial warriors remain largely oblivious to each other’s presence gets a little frustrating at times and often feels like things are merely meandering without direction.
Despite Donnie Yen’s fame and prowess as a martial arts actor, there is very little in the way of action, although it’s fairly safe to say this will be the first time you’ll have ever seen him take out a squad of SWAT guys with an exploding toilet and then scuttle up a cliff face like a demented spider monkey. There’s not even much of a man-out-of-time story as Ying quickly acclimates to the modern day, even if he has a habit of getting around the city by sitting on the roofs of buses and occasionally leaping from one to the other.
When hero and villains eventually meet on a bridge for a climactic showdown, it almost makes up for the rest of the film. The battle is fast-paced, lengthy and elaborate, and it again showcases Yen’s talent as a skilled and imaginative action choreographer, although a few shots clearly intended to be 3D-in-your-face make the effects seams falter.
While things end on a final revelation that shows what the film believes its story to be, it’s at no point clear this was supposed to be the mystery driving the plot. Even more frustratingly, things don’t even end with an actual resolution, but merely set up for an already made sequel.
ICEMAN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: WING-CHEONG LAW / SCREENPLAY: FUNG LAM, MARK WU / STARRING: DONNIE YEN, SHENGYI HUANG, BAOQIANG WANG, KANG YU, SIMON YAM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW