Review: ICEMAN 冰封俠: 重生之門 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Review: ICEMAN 冰封俠: 重生之門 (2014)

Donnie Yen hits a new low in this cringe-worthy mess of mediocre action, painfully cheesy comedy and jumbled plot.


After more than a year of troubled production, the long-delayed and perhaps the much talked-about Chinese movie of the year ICEMAN, is finally here. However, Law Wing-Cheong's big budget attempt to remake Clarence Fok's 1989 martial arts fantasy classic THE ICEMAN COMETH is a cinematic mess of an epic proportion. Believe it or not, I have seen some of the bad Donnie Yen's movies in the past such as 2010's LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN, 2011's THE LOST BLADESMAN and 2013's SPECIAL ID, but I couldn't believe my eyes after I watched ICEMAN. It's just plain terrible.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

After wrongfully accused of conspiring with Japanese pirates in 1621, Ming Dynasty royal warrior He Ying (Donnie Yen) tries to escape from custody and ends up frozen in time when an avalanche hits during a chase between him and his two childhood friends-turned-enemies, Sao (Wang Baoqiang) and Niehu (Kang Yu). Both three of them awaken from 400 years later and find themselves trapped in the modern-day Hong Kong. While Sao and Niehu try to track down He Ying, He Ying wanders around the city where he subsequently meets a feisty nightclub hostess May (Huang Shengyi). Meanwhile, shady Police Commissioner Cheung (Simon Yam) and oily politician Tang (Lam Suet) are working together to recapture the three frozen Ming Dynasty warriors and planning to sell them to the North Koreans. Not only that, they are also looking for the powerful Indian device called "Golden Wheel of Time", which has the ability to transport people through time.

THE GOOD STUFF
 
Most of the cast here are a major letdown (see "The Bad Stuff"), and only Simon Yam emerges as the least worthy actor to watch for. Whenever he's on the screen with other supporting actors such as Lam Suet, there's a certain feeling as if I'm watching a Milkyway production directed by Johnnie To with a few assists from Law Wing-Cheong. Speaking of that, director Law Wing-Cheong manages to show some of his directing flair during the contemporary scenes involving Simon Yam's shady dealings.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
I almost wanted to throw the popcorn in front of the screen.... no, seriously, I can't find a single memorable moment from this movie. Not even that heavily-promoted climactic finale at the Tsing Ma Bridge really lasts me a significant impression.
  
THE BAD STUFF
  
Let's see... First, Lam Fung's screenplay is patchy all over the place. In the past, most Hong Kong movies have no problem shifting genres and tones between action, comedy, drama and romance. I can see that the story is trying to recapture that similar anything-goes spirit, but Lam Fung fails miserably to set his target right. For instance, the comedy tone is so overly cheesy until it's hard to laugh at. And if that's not insulting enough, there are even embarrassing scenes like watching Donnie Yen peeing in an unbelievably long distance or watching him fart and literally caused the entire toilet bowl flying off into the sky!

Second, while director Law Wing-Cheong manages to pull off some worthy direction during the above-mentioned contemporary scenes, he seems lost when he requires balancing the movie's ever-shifting tones.

Third, Donnie Yen's much-ballyhooed action choreography fails to make me feel exciting like he always does in the past. When comes to directing his own action, Donnie Yen is always trying his best to outdo himself as a martial arts fighter. But not so in ICEMAN, where the action sequences here are surprisingly lacklustre and missing that certain kinetic flair within his fight choreography. 

Fourth, the acting sucks. As proven in SPECIAL ID, Donnie Yen couldn't act in such a role where he requires to be both serious and funny at the same time. When he pulls a serious face in this movie, he tends to be overly dramatic. His comic timing is even worse, and seriously, I cringe a lot the way he tries to act dumb throughout the movie. Suffice to say, Yen is totally miscast for this kind of character. As May, Huang Shengyi is eye-catching enough as a screen beauty but her performance looks awkward and she shares little chemistry with Donnie Yen as potential romantic interest. Finally, there's Wang Baoqiang, who simply looks out-of-place playing one of the bad guys and especially the way he delivers all the cheesy dialogues. 

Last but not least, is the middling production values. For all the huge budget that spent in this highly-expensive production, the CGI is ranging from poor to average-looking effect while the rest of the technical credits are sub-par.

FINAL WORDS


After watching the first ICEMAN here (yes, first), I must conclude that this movie should have been streamlined into one movie, instead of splitting into two chapters. With ICEMAN being such a huge disappointment, only time will tell whether ICEMAN 2 is as rotten as this one or proved to be a worthwhile effort instead.

* This review is written courtesy from GSC Movies press screening *

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do they even need for a sequel for this?

caseymoviemania said...

Yes, they don't really need the sequel for this. But unfortunately the first movie has so many plot left unanswered. That's why there will be a second chapter.