Ask almost anyone in my circles and they’ll tell you how supportive I usually am for remakes and reboots if done right. Obviously not all remakes have worked in cinema history and it’s all but added to the stigma that permeates around current remakes either completed or already in the making.
Effectively, this includes the last eight years in which action star Donnie Yen has spent bottoming-out with his overbudgted and overwrought redo of Hong Kong fantasy classic, Iceman Cometh, thus bringing us Law Wing-Cheong’s Iceman 3D, and its long-gestating follow-up, Iceman: The Time Traveler.
I won’t get into the specifics of the story connecting both films, and for several reasons – frankly one of them being that as I tried to watch the second film for which this review is attributed to, I kept tuning out and falling asleep. What I will say, in place of this, is what essentially needs to be said in the spirit of fair dissent, and probably what a number of people already believe of this sequel: It sucks.
Regardless of whose fault it is (re: Donnie Yen suing the producers at one point over the film’s reception and who was to blame), it doesn’t change the fact that the film leaves little to aspire to in following up Law’s dinky 2014 film. Very little of it interested me; the conspiracy and betrayal elements of the story involving our characters, the action – there’s little to foundate any real reason to spare any empathy or pathos for our characters.
Eva Huang’s May is still a drunken lovelorn spinster, the only difference here is that she’s lost in time as opposed to in the first film where she’s…well… lost. Period. The continued wanton romance substory she induces is substantiated further by the addition of one other female supporting character who is in love with Yen’s role, Ho Ying.
Nothing short of an afterthought by the third act, May gets the worst of it in this movie, but it’s not as tragic nor pathetic as is the first fight scene, executed by way of a cheap homage to Yen’s Ip Man franchise. It speaks to the overall quality of the film in general, which sucks because there really are only two somewhat (I wanna say “half”?) decent fight scenes in the film, second of which sees Yen fighting Yasuaki Kurata who plays an evil Japanese general, and the idea of seeing these two together on screen is generally exciting apart from what we see on screen.
It should matter that Simon Yam does what he can to help make this film work along with Wang Baoqiang and Yu Kang, and sadly it doesn’t. The film ends so unceremoniously that it’s as if the filmmakers couldn’t wait to be done with it five years after releasing Law’s movie, and it’s a shame. The right filmmaker could have made this one (or two) rightfully epic. And it isn’t.
More to the point though, it’s films like this that contribute to the aforementioned stigma about remakes and reboots. That being said, as much as I would never assail anyone for liking a certain film different from my tastes, how any thoughtful blogger or film critic can even suggest that this bloated, half-cocked “sequel” passes the muster enough for a buzz quote or a four-star review simply daunts me.
It’s worth pointing out though that Yen has done better for himself since then with films like Kung Fu Killer, Rogue One, Ip Man 3, Big Brother and xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage to name a few. Alas, there will be more Yen to look forward to in the coming months while Cine Asia is readies Iceman: The Time Traveler for its release in the UK on April 29.
If you love Donnie Yen so much that he can possibly do no wrong and any filmic flaws are worth suspending disbelief over, then keep it honest and pre-order the movie here, here or here, and have at it! 🙏