Iceman: The Time Traveler – Review

I’m not usually a fan of being mean, but sometimes it just has to happen. First off, Iceman: The Time Traveler is a royal mess. The first film was directed by Law Wing Cheong and the sequel was directed by Raymond Yip. This is fascinating because the film was supposedly shot back-to-back. I believe the film was also meant to be released closer to the first film a la The Matrix Reloaded & The Matrix Revolutions, or the Kill Bill saga. From my understanding, Iceman (already a remake of The Iceman Cometh released in 1989) bombed and that caused the film to be pushed back and delayed for four years. It wasn’t one massive push back but increments that added to four years.

The sequel begins where the first left off, kind of. The movie starts with a ten minute recap of everything that occurred in the first movie, but it never is made aware of when the recap ends? I went onto Netflix and saw that the first film could be streamed online, so I watched the ending so I can understand when the new movie really began because I had no other way of knowing. I also realized there was a mid credits scene that showed a scene from the second film that had Donnie Yen’s character return from the dead with no explanation. If I was a viewer that enjoyed the first film, I would have begged for the sequel due to that scene. But I said if, because I’m unsure if the first film is as messy as this one (reports online tell me that it might be, so maybe I would have just rolled my eyes at it instead).

The film is classified as a martial arts / comedy film, which is debatable and false as both are minimal. The action is pushed to the final twenty minutes of the 87 minute movie. Reminder: the opening ten is a montage version of the predecessor with narration to sum up everything we’ve missed. So that leaves us with 50 minutes of a film that includes Donnie Yen’s character returning back to his village the day before they’re attacked as he attempts to save it. It is nice to see him reunite with his mother and his friends and family. Watching him take selfies while walking the streets of Hong Kong in a leather jacket and a suave haircut is less fascinating.

The special effects and the production design look fairly cheap even though the budget was fairly high. If one is certain, martial arts films should have a sense of style or grace. Either in the calmness in the Wuxia genre, or the quick pace in fights, hopefully one that can allow you to see what’s actually occurring. Neither was the case in this film. Constantly cutting from important moments to in sequential shoes or something of the like, I was at a loss of the geography of each fight. Even if each fight was minimal and only around 2 feet outside of the character fighting.

The film sort of leaves it open to the idea of a final chapter in the trilogy but considering the gap between films even when shot back to back, I highly doubt a third can be green lit. If somehow there is, I hope they learn and make a film that isn’t just parts thrown against a wall and witnessing whatever sticks.

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