Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Iceman (4 Stars)
This is a mind-bending martial arts film that begins in the 17th Century and continues in modern day Hong Kong. It's a remake of the 1989 film "The Iceman Cometh", but the remake is intended as the first film of a trilogy.
Four young boys become blood brothers and swear to be friends for life. They all sign up to fight for the imperial Chinese army. He Ying (Donnie Yen) is sent on a mission to India to find a time travel device, the Linga, rumoured to be Shiva's penis. He brings it back to his general, but his blood brothers have turned against him because they want the device for themselves. He's accused of being a traitor and is sentenced to death. He's buried alive and wakes up in 2013. He's devastated to find that the Ming Dynasty has fallen, so he vows to travel back in time to change events and keep it in power. But he's not alone in Hong Kong. His three brothers are also alive, and one of them is the chief of police in the city.
In the unfamiliar new city He Ying makes friends with a young girl he meets in a club. At first her intention is to take advantage of him, because he's carrying gold ingots worth thousands of dollars, but a romance develops.
The action scenes are breathtaking, but I admit there's a lot I don't understand. Why are the four brothers immortal? Why was He Ying buried with the time travel device? Wouldn't it have been more sensible to take it off him first if it was so important? Some of the details of the story are rather slippery. For instance, in order to travel through time Shiva's penis has to be inserted. I suppose that any sacrifice is worth while to save the dynasty.
This is a 3D film. I watched it in 2D, but it was obvious that the special effects were filmed with 3D in mind. For instance, objects were flying towards the camera, presumably to make the cinema audience jump. I'm not a fan of silly tricks like that. Good cinematography doesn't have to rely on cheap tricks.
I understand that Donnie Yen insisted on a clause in his contract saying that he wouldn't be filmed inserting the Linga.