(The Vintage Tempest)
Following up on the events of the last film, The Iceman 2: The Time Traveller (冰封侠: 时空行者) proves He-Ying is a tough nut to crack. His loyalty is never questioned, but yet his brothers-in-arms are easily corruptible. This Chinese production is coming to North America courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment with a video release on Feb 19th, 2019.
This film originally released in November 2018 to lacklustre box office results. When a lot of action-adventure Asian films are out to create that blockbuster experience ala Marvel Entertainment, director Raymond Yip tries his best and gives audiences Quantum Leap instead of Doctor Who. The lead is played by Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen (甄子丹).
Even conspiracies are afoot at the highest level! This film even takes a moment to look back at a troubling time in Chinese history and gives its two cents about whether the Ming dynasty was good for the people or not.
I enjoyed the subtexts more than the actual plot. The metaphor of the train looks like a common theme in most Chinese movies concerning destiny and roads less travelled. At the same time, the martial arts sequences which define many a fantasy epic is not as much of a spotlight. Plus, when the title invites time travel to the equation, the idea is not overstuffed. It’s about destinies colliding and trying to prevent history from repeating itself.
The stakes are high: whoever possesses Golden Wheel of Time can control the universe. Yuanlong (Simon Yam) and Niehu (Yu Kang) were once comrades. Now they are vying for power and He-Ying (Yen) is the good guy in this mess. After getting tossed off the bridge from the first film, he’s finally recovering and has to pick up the pieces. Eventually, they all land in Beijing to find the ancient artefact and go home. However, they entered the Stargate at different times, meaning they returned home days, if not months apart.
The period set pieces look better than the CGI. Strangely, despite my decades of following Chinese/Hong Kong Fantasy Cinema, the filmmakers always overdo the CGI; it never blends with the live-action. Maybe one day they will get it right, or set aside a larger budget to hire WETA Workshop to handle the work.
Watching this film in Cantonese helped me appreciate this film more. Perhaps the negativity I noticed with other reports is because nuances in the translation are not always on the nose. The film is campy and has its entertaining moments. It’s not likely to spawn a television series and the day it happens, I will welcome it. A Chinese Ghost Story is a fond franchise I’ve followed in all its iterations; I would not be surprised if Iceman is considered in the future.
3½ Stars out of 5