Iceman Cometh, The | Varied Celluloid

Iceman Cometh, The

Posted by Josh Samford On February - 22 - 2009
Plot Outline: Fong Sau-Ching (Yuen Biao) is a royal guard during the Ming dynasty who is given the mission of hunting down a former ally (Fung San, played by Yuen Wah) who has turned to rape and murder. It’s Yuen’s last chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his superiors and it doesn’t take long to track Fung down. Once the two meet they are thrown through time by a Magic Time Wheel where they are knocked from a cliff and frozen in ice. Their bodies are discovered by some scientists in 1989 and are uncovered and eventually thawed out by accident. The two are set free in Hong Kong with neither knowing of the other’s existence. Fung heads back to his life of crime while Fong wanders the streets where he is taken in by a sarcastic prostitute named Polla (Maggie Cheung). The two hit it off, but Polla, seeing how naive Fong is about society decides to make him her man-servant. It doesn’t take time for Fong and Fung to find out that each other is alive, and it doesn’t take long for Fong to discover that Polla is using him. Thus the circle continues.


  

The Review
Iceman Cometh is what you would get if you took Encino Man and made it into a Martial Arts film. Actually, no you probably wouldn’t, I find it hard to believe that Pauley Shore could ever be half as attractive as Maggie Cheung. The image I just placed in my mind by typing that out is really creeping me out now, so I’ll move on. Yuen Biao is someone I’ve never had the pleasure of watching much. He’s very well known for his teaming up with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung during the 80s, but I haven’t seen many of these films. Yeah, I know, and I call myself a Kung Fu fan. I seen Project A here a little while back, and although it didn’t blow me away as I had been lead to believe it would, it was still an excellent Chan picture. The only other of these teamups I think I’ve seen is Wheels on Meals and Dragons Forever. It’s been years since I’ve seen either though, so my memory of them is pretty much nonexistent. After watching Iceman I can definitely see how Yune has that ‘star’ charisma about him and it makes me wonder why I haven’t seen more of his films. Although Maggie Cheung actually manages to steal the show with her outrageous character every time she is on the screen, Yuen is still the one we watch the film for. I didn’t really feel as if there were that many hand-to-hand combat scenes in the film, but the climatic battle at the end is surely enough to satisfy most rabid Kung Fu nuts. The fight scenes are great and I liked the story for the most part, but I just find it increasingly harder to comment on the film. I feel as if it left no impression on me whatsoever. And as many have said, the films that you feel indifferent on are the ones that are the hardest to write about.

If you’re expecting nonstop martial arts action in Iceman Cometh, you might want to check elsewhere. The fight scenes are actually pretty few and far between. A good portion of the fights are either too short or feature large swords and a great deal of wire work. If that’s the sort of thing you’re into then the flick might be just up your alley, but sadly I don’t care much for swordplay, especially not when the swords are huge like in The Highlander. The only two scenes I felt where Yuen got to demonstrate his talent was in the climax which I already spoke of and a fight that takes place about a hundred feet above a river on top of a car. The fighting isn’t the best as you can imagine, not much room to move, but the sheer coolness of what is going on is plenty enough. I felt fairly let down by the fight scenes I must say. Within the beginning I was expecting to see a lot of wirework in the vein of Once Upon A Time in China (which I really wasn’t in the mood for) but thankfully there was a lot more groundbased kung fu that I didn’t expect, but it just didn’t satisfy me. The majority of the film focuses primarily on story and Kung Fu, and although some of these scenes are entirely priceless, I sometimes forgot that I was actually watching a martial arts film. I know it sounds bad as if I hated the film and all, but I’m just trying to stress the point that it might be a bit of a disappointment for those looking for all out action. The film is really more of a comedy that features some martial arts. The comedy is all played with a straight face and Yuen was actually deadly serious throughout, never cracking a joke and always keeping in character. You have to show some respect for that. As I mentioned above though, Maggie Cheung is probably the most charismatic actor in the film, which really surprised me. I think I’m used to seeing her play the tag along girlfriend or in the more serious role. Here she really lets loose. Her character is just wild man, always smoking a cigarette and playing the tough guy while presenting herself in the most flamboyant ways possible. For me she was really the funniest and most entertaining part of the film. Well, that and the fantastic final battle.

The Conclusion
One thing that surprised me when watching the film was that there appeared to be a budget for the special effects. Whenever the time machine was activated whirring lights and electricity flies around the room and such. It’s not such a big thing these days, but I didn’t think this would be the type of film to get the special effects it had. The lights that dance around appear to be painted on at points but for the most part I couldn’t actually tell how exactly they did it. I suppose if Jackie Chan can attach helicopters to moving trains (see: Supercop) then Yuen Biao can have flying lights and electricity. So, can you tell I’ve run out of things to say? If you can’t, let’s just get things clear, I have very little else to say. The big question should be ‘do I recommend it?’. Well, I guess I do but only to the more seasoned Kung Fu/Comedy fans. I don’t exactly know why the film has such a huge following and I’m sure I’ve offended some by not giving it a five, but I just felt the film was far too mixed up to present it’s self in a fashion I could get into. Is it a fantasy film? Is it a comedy? Is there supposed to be Kung Fu? There are far too many factors getting in my way of really enjoying the film. I give it a three because believe it or not it really entertained me. Perhaps I expected too much of it, I don’t know. I’ll leave the final judgment to the viewer.

You might also be interested in:

VIDEO

TAGS

Sponsors

About Me

Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

Twitter

    Photos