Iceman Cometh, The | aka Time Warrors (1989) Review

"The Iceman Cometh" International Poster

"The Iceman Cometh" International Poster

Director: Clarence Ford
Writer: Johnny Mak, Stephen Shiu
Producer: Stephen Shiu
Cast: Yuen Biao, Maggie Cheung, Yuen Wah, Sarah Lee, Tai Bo, Lam Chung, Alvina Kong, Ann Mui, Tan Lap Man, Frankie Ng, Chen Jing, Stanley Fung, Lai Yin Saan, Lam Siu Lau, Helena Law, Liu Wai Hung, Jackson Ng, Walter Tso, Elvis Tsui, Anthony Wong, Wong Jing, Corey Yuen
Running Time: 114 min.

By Reefer

Two opposing Ming Dynasty warriors fall into an ice crevice and are unthawed in the early 1990’s to a drastically changed world. The good warrior (Yuen Biao) finds a home with a quirky prostitute played by Maggie Cheung. The bad warrior (Yuen Wah), a rapist-murderer, simply picks up where he left off centuries ago. At first they are unaware that the other still exists until Wah’s handiwork shows up again. At the heart of this film is a simple fish-out-of-water story with the naive Biao, thinking that women are the rulers of this new world, plays slave to Cheung’s ditsy hooker. This provides many amusing moments situations for Biao to react and ultimately softens the movie’s tone.

My only real gripe with this movie is the nastiness of the truly evil Wah character. His brutal murder-rape scene that just doesn’t belong in this kinda movie mars all the light moments. He plays his character way over-the-top in most of his scenes. Agreed, many of us enjoy HK cinema because of its audacity and ability to mix genres and tones, but the brutality of the scene, much of it shown onscreen, is simply much too shocking.

Finally, the opponents discover each other and the fight begins (there are a couple of doozies this one). There is one featuring both Yuens fighting on top of a car hanging from a crane, a sword duel at the beginning, and the end fight that makes use of guns, swords, and then hand-to-hand combat. The combatants during the end fight take some nasty falls (none using stunt doubles!). It is a truly spectacular sequence that I would compare to Drunken Master 2.

Reefer’s Rating: 8/10


By Numskull

A rare thing: a Hong Kong action movie that exceeds 100 minutes. Sadly, the increased running time doesn’t mean a more intricate plot or any additional daredevilry. It just means that the movie plods. I’m not some sound-bit-spoiled simpleton with an attention span as wide as a pubic hair, but watching the chronologically misplaced Yuen Biao do menial chores for the ungrateful whore played by Maggie Cheung wears thin in a hurry. Drinking from the toilet only generates enough laughs to carry you so far, y’know? And then there’s the big bad villain Yuen Wah, who wantonly rapes and kills simply because it gives him that “special feeling”. Talk about a cardboard antagonist. The Iceman Cometh certainly isn’t the only offender in THAT department, but it really sticks out here because of the distinct lack of action for most of the film.

A sword fight in the beginning, a dull mass beating a little later on, one-half of a shootout in the embryo stage, and the baddie catching bullets and flicking them back at their originators like freshly-picked boogers. That’s what there is to sustain the viewer until the end, where we’re treated to a fairly cool “how-far-do-you-dare-to-plummet” stunt and the two Yuens go at it tooth and nail in a fight scene which is remakrable not only because the rest of the movie is a snore, but also because it perfectly illustrates the fact that Yuen Biao’s physical abilities are right up there with those of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, the two older “brothers” whose careers have unjustly overshadowed his for far too long.

Sorry folks, but a good ending fight does nothing to remedy such a lame story, nor does it single-handedly boost the movie from the status of the 98-pound weakling who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach to that of the guy who does the kicking. The Iceman Cometh is a weak link in Yuen Biao’s cinematic chain.

Numskull’s Rating: 4/10

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