Movie Review: Iceman (2014 HK-China film – Donnie Yen)

Donnie Yen Iceman movie still

Iceman is a high-budget garbage compared to the 1989 original film, Donnie Yen’s streak of bad movies continues

Yet another terrible film with Donnie Yen, and what a mess it is. First there was Special ID, then Monkey King and now this, from bad to worse. Iceman is a remake of the great 1989 multiple award-nominated classic action comedy, The Iceman Cometh, which stars Yuen Biao, Maggie Cheung and Yuen Wah. Much of the original storyline and the characters are almost completely changed, but the general concept is kept, whereby the protagonist (Donnie Yen) is a high-rank king’s guard from Ming Dynasty who’s frozen during a battle. 400 years later, he’s defrosted and reawakens in modern time, without realising that he’s not the only one from the battle who survived through the years. He meets a swindler girl (Eva Huang) who uses him for money and protection, but also helps him to adapt to the modern era.

Bad writing, bad directing, bad humour, bad CGI, bad props, well actually, bad everything. It’s also kind of racist at parts. Not only the story and character changes do not make the movie any better, it becomes unnecessarily complicated as well and it creates even more embarrassing flaws and plot holes. Almost every scene ends awkwardly with cringeworthy jokes after cheesy dialogues, and the horrible Cantonese dubbing certainly doesn’t help at all. The themes of loyalty, sacrifice, moral principles and discipline from the original are non-existent here. It doesn’t seem that there’s any real purpose for this remake at all (besides not being able to come out with new original ideas). Oh yeah, not to mention about the objects absurdly flying/being thrown towards the camera just to showcase 3-D effects (yes, this is supposed to be a 3D film; just that the format was not released here in Malaysia).

Donnie Yen Iceman pee pissing memeSo what about the action? Not impressive too, sorry to say, despite having Donnie Yen as the action director. It felt that there are actually lesser fight sequences compared to the original. However, it does have a long, over-the-top finale with the characters jumping around fighting on the big bridge (and a careful involvement of a loaned-for-production Lamborghini), while unnecessarily showing the struggles of the people in the vehicles around. We’re used to the quality of the CGI in Chinese productions, but it’s inexcusable to also have awfully fake-looking weapon props.

The film then just ends abruptly soon after that without a proper cliffhanger. I suspect that the production has gone way over budget (apparently the initial budget planned was HK$100 million, and they ended up spending over HK$200 million [source]) and so they decided that enough is enough, let’s just end the filming there and make it seem like there’s going to be a sequel – ’cause don’t worry, we have Donnie Yen, and he’d sell tickets regardless of how shameful our work is, right?

Usually, even when a Donnie Yen movie suck these days, his performance would still be commendable, but not this time, I’m afraid. The acting of the cast here is lacklustre compared to the original’s. Look, Donnie Yen’s a great man and actor, with martial arts talent highly valuable to today’s film industry, we all love him, but I doubt he’d be able to look someone in the eyes and honestly say that he thinks that Iceman is a good movie. This film should’ve either went straight to home release or stayed in China but why would they care when we’d still pay to watch the big martial art star. Seriously, Donnie Yen’s gotta fire his agent and start being selective with the movies he signs himself up with (especially China productions), and stop disappointing the fans already.

What I would’ve named the film: “Ironyman: Ones of the Past are Better”

Censorship in Malaysia: Saw it at the media screening held at GSC Mid Valley and nothing seemed to be censored, not even the vulgarity. Hearing the word “lan” (dick) in mainstream Cantonese films is very rare, you know.

Second opinion: My girlfriend felt that it’s entertaining but was disappointed with the flow of the film and its ending. She hadn’t seen the 1989 original film.

Verdict: One of the best examples of why some classics shouldn’t be remade/touched/messed with. Out of the last three action flicks led by Donnie Yen, somehow this managed to turn out worse than the other two (which are Special ID and Monkey King). Will not be too keen to watch its sequel if there really is going to be one.

Rating: 1 / 5

Iceman 2014 冰封侠 hk china film stars donnie yen - movie poster malaysia
Chinese title
: 冰封侠 (Bing Fung Hap)
Language / country: Cantonese / Hong Kong, China
Based on: 1989 Hong Kong film “The Iceman Cometh” (急冻奇侠)

Rated: P13
Genre: Fantasy, action
Running Time: 104 minutes
Director: Law Wing Cheong
Screenwriter: Mark Wu, Lam Fung, Shum Shek Yin
Cast: Donnie Yen, Wang Bao Qiang, Eva Huang, Simon Yam

Malaysia Release Date: April 17th 2014
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Studio(s): Zhongmeng Century Media

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