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The Iceman Cometh
cast: Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, and Maggie Cheung

director: Clarence Ford

114 minutes (18) 1989
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Contender DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Ming dynasty China: when the evil San rapes and murders a princess, the emperor's loyal servant Sau Ching, who also happens to be his brother, is dispatched to arrest him. However, San has unlocked the secrets of a religious statue supposed to grant enlightenment to anyone, however evil. When Ching intervenes to stop him, their fight to the death ends with the two of them falling into a frozen chasm...

Three hundred years later, archaeologists recover their bodies, which are accidentally resuscitated by bungling burglars. Ching, a fish out of water in modern Hong Kong, is taken in by a bar girl who exploits his honourable nature. San adjusts more easily, finding a natural home in the criminal underworld and continuing to prey upon women. But when San launches a plan to take modern weapons back to his own time and seize control, Ching realises he will have to abandon the woman he has grown to love in order to do his duty.

Well, it's certainly a little different to the famous stage play of the same title. In fact, it's an enjoyable time travel comedy, with enough action and romance to keep most people happy - and, in Yuen Wah's San, a cackling villain who makes Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham look like a miracle of actorly restraint. Yuen Biao's Ching is likeable enough, and his pain at discovering his whole world has disappeared is quite affecting. Maggie Cheung is particularly good as the heartless bar girl who finds redemption through Ching's example.

It's probably best not to think too deeply about the logic of the movie - especially the enlightenment-granting statues that somehow take in teleportation and time travel, but never actually enlighten anyone. Hardcore martial arts fans may also find the movie short on action, though for a general audience, it strikes a pretty good balance.

All in all, The Iceman Cometh (aka: Ji dong ji xia) is an enjoyably silly adventure that isn't particularly original or striking, but should please most audiences. DVD extras comprise a commentary by the frighteningly ubiquitous Bey Logan, decent interviews with Yuen Wah and Yuen Biao, and trailers.

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