Iceman 2: The Time Traveler (2018), directed by Raymond Yip, is a live-action martial arts science-fiction film starring Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen as General He Ying in the leading role. The film is sub-titled in English.
He Ying, a Ming Dynasty General, is buried and frozen in time by an avalanche along with several of his nemeses during a fierce battle, and is brought back to life along with his nemeses in modern-day Hong Kong. In the sequel, Iceman 2: The Time Traveler, He Ying embarks on a quest to find the time machine to go back in time to right the wrongs of history in order to save his family, clan and village from annihilation. It’s really a film about a man blessed with noble mind and character who meets avarice and greed and a lust for power in his quest to right the wrongs of the past. In short, it’s a film about good versus evil.
Even though the film has an intriguing storyline, there is so much going on in the film that the narrative suffers and lacks coherence. The film comes off feeling disjointed and out of whack beginning with the prologue, the hero’s backstory and a recap of the first Iceman film at the start of the film. I would have preferred the sequel start with the turning point, the quest itself, but alas it didn’t. And rather than returning immediately to the Ming Dynasty period to the year 1624 AD, the film pauses in the distant past to the year 1927 to give the time travelling hero the opportunity to subvert and delay the eventual subjugation of Republican China at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army. Nevertheless, I did like the fact that the story straddled China’s past and present and seeing on film the majestic cityscapes of Hong Kong and Beijing.
The director juxtaposes the narrative of He Ying’s quest to right the wrongs of the past against the simmering tensions amongst his main nemesis General Yuanlong, played by Sam Yam and his revelations creating the dramatic tension that moves the film to its climax despite its lack of coherence and disappointing end. Yet, there is much to recommend the film and includes the special effects, the period sets and costumes, the well-executed martial art scenes, the excellent soundtrack and heart throbbing Chinese pop songs, and not to mention a stellar cast.
Nevertheless, the film resonated with me on a philosophical level since it posed important existential questions such as the transitory nature of life, characteristics of man’s nature, and living by a moral compass.
If you are a fan of Chinese films like me or like martial arts or fantasy films and are not bothered by a convoluted storyline, you might like Iceman 2: The Time Traveler. Surprisingly, I liked it despite its flaws.
WELL GO USA releases Iceman: The Time Traveler on February 19, 2019
[Review by Stefan Chiarantano]