03rd May2014

‘Ice Soldiers’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Dominic Purcell, Michael Ironside, Adam Beach, Gabriel Hogan, Benz Antoine, Camille Sullivan | Written by Jonathan Tydor | Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson

Ice-Soldiers-cast

It’s safe to say I had some rather high (or low depending on your movie-cheese tolerance) expectations for Ice Soldiers. After all, the film comes from the pen of Jonathan Tydor, who wrote the fantastically over-the-top and ridiculously cheesy Dolph Lundgren-starring sci-fi horror Dark Angel, aka I Come in Peace, back in 1990 and despite a substantial 13 year gap between scripts (he last wrote and directed the Eric Roberts film The Kings Guard in 2000), I still had hopes that this films concept meant the movie would err on the (right) side of insanity…

The film follows a scientific expedition that unearths three genetically engineered Russian super soldiers (the titular Ice Soldiers) frozen in ice since the height of the Cold War. Bodies that have been buried beneath the Arctic ice since the Cold War and have are now reactivated and ready to unleash devastating destruction. They are cold-blooded killing machines with super-human strength and one man, Malraux, a scientist who has been searching for them his entire life, will try to stop the carnage before they complete their terrifying, top-secret mission – the destruction of New York City!

Ice Soldiers is one of those films that wastes no time on extraneous storytelling – there’s no side plots, no romantic relationship between characters (even though its hinted at early on between Malraux and oil company exec Jane Frazer). Instead the film sets up the story, past and present, in the first 30 minutes and then unleashes a series of chases scenes and action sequences. But it’s not like the cast and crew don’t know how (for want of a better word) “stupidly simple” the film is either – there’s plenty of times director Sturla Gunnarsson plays up the more ridiculous aspects of the story and nowhere is that more evident than the obligatory fish-out-of-water sequence in  strip club featuring the trio of super soldiers shooting the breeze (and enjoy the odd stripper or two) with a fellow Russian!

There’s also somewhat of an underlying anti-Russian sentiment running through Ice Soldiers, which is apt given the subject matter and the 1980′s goofy action flick feel the film has – hell, the three genetically engineered Russian super soldiers even look like 80s-era Dolph Lundgren by way of Schwarzenegger’s original Terminator! And the 80s sentiment doesn’t stop there, oh no. Nearly an hour into the film Malraux teams up with a Native American trapper who we soon realise is the token 80s sidekick character – who, like his filmic predecessors before him, starts spouting one-liners like he stepped out of Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop. Thankfully that role suits actor Adam Beach (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Artic Air) to a tee and his is easily the most believeable and natural of all the performances in the film.

As for the rest of the cast, Dominic Purcell, as scientist turned hunter Malraux, channels the same hard-man persona as he did in TV’s Prison Break – which come the films cliched final fight between hero and villain actually serves him and his character well. Meanwhile Gabriel Hogan (son of Battlestar Galactica‘s Michael Hogan), as the lead Russian super soldier, looks absolutely nothing like he did when he appeared on one of my favourite TV shows of all time, Wonderfalls. Instead he channels the spirit (and body) of The Terminator-era Arnold Schwarzenegger with the looks of a bleached blonde, Nazi-esque Dolph Lundgren – his character is just as vocal too (i.e. he isn’t).

Admittedly Ice Soldiers isn’t going to blow anyone away – the story is simple, the characters stereotypical and the action is cliched. But as an action-packed way to pass 90 minutes without having to give it your full attention? The film fits the bill superbly. One for fans of old-school actioners.

Ice Soldiers is released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 5th, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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