Wing-cheong Law directed “Iceman” is a blended fantasy/sci-fi film that plays heavily on the classic Hong Kong action/fight set-up. The film stars Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Shengyi Huang, Yu Kang, Simon Yam and Suet Lam. The story takes on the cryogenic tech concept by having ancestors of almost godly stature and brings them to the 21st century in a light-hearted, cut-n-copy style that Hong Kong cinema is famous for. I love the theatrics of Asian cinema. Maybe it is because, due to subtitles, I place my focus on emotion, body language and facial reactions. I skim read the subtitled dialog-often times the translation is brutal.
“Iceman” has a fun, and yet intense story that begs for cool fight sequences choreographed flawlessly. I didn’t totally get the grandeur that surrounds these figures-who obviously have mastered the teachings so well they have transcended into “godhood”. However the scenes are so strong, with a balance of melodrama, humor and action. The story does capitalize on the expected components that make up modern action films from China, it almost mirrors the set up of Japanese anime series. The characters, although a bit cliché, offer a collection of comic relief, romantic interlude, and tons of dramatic inflection. All in a blended cultures piece that brings the past into the present.
The special effects and sound in “Iceman” are standard blends of CGI heavy sequences and choreographed fight stuff. I have learned that Asian cinema is one area where tolerance of CGI is just mandated in order to get into films from this market. It is okay as long as enough practical effects are added to balance it out. Which in “Iceman” actually works to do just that. Everything about the various techniques used add to the melodrama and excitement. The soundtrack and sound effects are standard mill stuff so that was a bummer. Most was instrumental melodies that felt familiar. It works but it does real propel the story to that extra level of suspense or thrills.
Overall “Iceman” is a decent action/fantasy film with plenty of fights and drama. I am not sure if it is truly a strong piece because some of the material didn’t connect with me personally. I enjoyed watching this film but I have seen better films similar to this one come out of Hong Kong. Still the cinematography and production value is stellar. The flat areas for me are the humanizing scenes of character relationship/ dialog interaction moments that are intended to build up the characters so that they more personable dimension, but really just creates drag on the action and thrills a bit too much. Again – I liked “Iceman” but I am not sure if it will be strong enough for the diehard Asian cinema fan.