26th Sep2015

‘Iceman’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Shengyi Huang, Yu Kang, Simon Yam, Suet Lam, Singh Hartihan Bitto, Mark Wu, Hoi-Pang Lo | Written by Fung Lam, Mark Wu | Directed by Wing-Cheung Law


Any film that opens with a massive car crash and thens sees Donnie Yen, now defrosted following the accident, take a massive piss (not the ONLY one in the movie either may I add) right out in the open, is guaranteed to be an attention grabber! If that’s not enough, Iceman is filled from the get-go with amazing wire-fu stunts mixed with some eye-popping CGI.

A reimagining of the 1989 kung-fu movie The Iceman Cometh, which starred Yuen Biao and Maggie Cheung – originally shot in 3D but only released on DVD and Blu-ray here in the UK in a 2D version – Iceman tells the story of a Ming Dynasty warrior transported to modern-day Hong Kong…

After being sent on a mission to find a mythical device with time-traveling powers, Chinese warrior He Ying (Yen) is trapped under an avalanche and frozen. Four-hundred years later he awakes in modern-day Hong Kong, where he’s about to discover a lot’s changed over four centuries. Not only that, but he’s also being pursued by enemies from both the past and present. Can Ying and his new nightclub hostess friend May (Wang) evade their capture? Or is it leading to a climatic showdown 400 years in the making?

Even with my love of all things kung-fu and my almost OCD-like obasession with collecting films on the former UK VHS/DVD label Hong Kong Legends, I’ve never actually seen the original film on which this comedy remake is based (my OCD is so bad I collect even if I don’t watch). Although I’m certain that The Iceman Cometh didn’t feature quite so much broad, and often scatological, humour… I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shit and fart gags in one movie.

Typically the overuse of wire work and CGI does not make for a fantastic movie but in the case of Iceman, which is packed with over-exagerated characters and a completely crazy plot, using copious amounts of both actually enhances proceedings. Plus it’s not like wire work and CGI is all this film has going for it. There is, amongst all the fart jokes, some fantastic kung-fu action, showing off the skills of not only Donnie Yen but also Yu Kang and Baoqiang Wang (who, it turns out is also a huge comedy star in Hong Kong).

Despite the toilet humour (which was often times ridiculously out of place), Iceman remains a solid, fast-paced kung-fu flick; so fast in fact that it doesn’t give the audience time to even think. There is literally not a single second of screen time wasted. If it’s not filled with action or comedy (or poop) or forwarding the plot it’s not on the screen. Which is why it comes as a total surprise when the film suddenly ends on a downbeat note and without your typical story wrap-up conclusion. Undoubtedly because a sequel was planned from start (and has also been announced) and which, given the “Three Months Later” coda, will see the cast embarking on more time-travel based adventures.

Sadly this UK DVD is an almost bare-bones affair with only the trailer as an extra. Oh for the days of the feature-packed Hong Kong Legends releases… Iceman is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.


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