22nd Apr2020

‘The Iron Mask’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Jason Flemyng, Xingtong Yao, Anna Churina, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rutger Hauer, Charles Dance, Paul Allica, Chayanit Chansangavej, Christopher Fairbank | Written by Dmitry Paltsev, Alexey A. Petrukhin | Directed by Oleg Stepchenko

Billed as the movie that has the first fight ever between Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger might seem slightly odd but I will assume that it will help them sell a good chunk of downloads and physical media (chucking their faces on the front of DVDs probably helped too). But is there anything more to The Iron Mask?

Well I will start with the things are enjoyed about it. The Iron Mask looks fantastic. Epic is a word that is thrown around quite a lot now but it is perfectly apt for this. Everything about it (except the odd cheap-looking CGI) screams big budget epic movie. I absolutely loved pretty much all of the settings. Whether it be a Pirates of the Caribbean-like ship sailing through the ocean or a endlessly huge-looking castle or a prefect grassy-hilled scenery. It is a beautiful movie. A lot of effort has gone into the production design and it shows. There’s umbrella flying machines (well, gliders) steampunk-influenced vehicles and so much more. Your eyes wont be able to take it all in in one viewing.

The only trouble with the style is that everything looks very ‘clean’. In particular the clothes, which all look brand new. Even characters that have been locked in a dungeon for years look clean.

The fight scenes are another highlight. As Jackie Chan stars and produces it should come as no surprise that the fights are both fun and entertaining. Much of them come with the use of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style ‘fighting with strings’ and although some of it is ridiculous, it’s all the better for it. Even though it gets slightly silly, there’s still some highly impressive martial arts. The middle ground – as in things I wasn’t sure whether I loved or hated, mainly involved the Mortal Kombat-like power characters that win lots of fights. They’re huge ‘humans’ compared to the rest of the cast and they have super powers of sort – one can control lightening for instance. They should feel out of place but as is the way with this movie, it all kinds fits together nicely in a weird way.

Unfortunately there’s quite a lot of things that were not quite so great withThe Iron Mask and they’re quite important parts.

The acting performances leave a lot to be desired. In fairness, Arnie and Jackie Chan are the best things in it. They’re far from perfect but they clearly have charisma and are enjoyable to watch. The rest of the cast don’t fair so well, many of it is amateur-like and at best it’s just average. Even Jason Flemyng, who can deliver at times, seems to struggle with the poor script. Because the script, and dialogue especially, are pretty awful too. The sound editing on top of that does not help anybody. I couldn’t decide at times if some of it was dubbed badly or just edited together badly or both. It’s anyone’s guess.

The story is confusing and even if you do somehow understand, (and I rewound a few times to check things), it is often ludicrous.

With all that said, I must say I kind of enjoyed The Iron Mask even if it is about thirty minutes too long. If you’re someone that doesn’t mind some poor acting and a story that you probably wont understand, there is plenty to have fun with here. Just prepare yourself going into it and know what to expect. There’s action, adventure and martial arts and if it clocked in at about ninety minutes it could have been even better.

*** 3/5

The Iron Mask is available to rent on Digital now. The film comes to DVD and Blu-ray on June 1st, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

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