Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That? - Iceman

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Sometimes it is really easy to tell a bad movie from a good one. There are certain hints that give them away, like certain actors, cover art, or even the little one sentence descriptions that are attached to them everywhere you see them. Iceman is one of the rare movies where everything about it looks terrible at first glance. And guess what?

It is terrible.

Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to any discerning fan of kung-fu films, but in this attempt at martial arts magnum opus, director Wing-cheong Law delivers something that not only falls flat, but does so in a spectacularly terrible way. Donnie Yen joins the picture, and as always he has great physical ability, but his terrible taste in roles holds true.1


Iceman is advertised by this image, which looks so fake that it is almost impossible to believe. But that is indicative of the movie itself, which is chock full of awful CG and shoddy wirework. The movie opens with aby truck crashing into an old man’s house, where we see Donnie Yen exit from a cryogenic pod, stand on top of a car, and shoot a stream of frozen piss about thirty yards, which we get to watch for 30 seconds. It sets the tone for the rest of the movie early, which oddly juxtaposes seemingly “epic” storytelling with almost absurdist toilet humor in one of the weirdest combinations that I’ve seen recently.

It’s about three warriors who were frozen in an avalanched hundreds of years ago. Two of them think that Donnie betrayed them, so they are after him for revenge. They quickly become half-gangsters and shoot a cop, and really love curry spaghetti. The three of them must fight each other, and the new era in which they find themselves in while getting up to some whacky hijinks. It’s a classic story of people out of time, like Encino Man or Freaky Friday.

Speaking of the earlier toilet humor, there is a scene in this film where Donnie Yen finds himself cornered in the old man’s house from the beginning of the film (which he returned to looking for clues). A SWAT team surrounds the house, and he seemingly has no way out. But in a moment of quick thinking he poops in the toilet so much that it explodes, spraying shit all over the swat team and disabling some of its officers. The police antagonist even gets poo on his face, which is the height of hilarity, let me tell you.

During this quest to find out how he got here and how he can get back, Donnie befriends a young woman who might be a prostitute, who then extorts thousands of dollars out of him, but also they fall and love and Donnie fixes her sick mom by basically beating her up (he’s messing with her pressure points) in a scene of hilarious man versus disabled elderly woman slapstick comedy. He falls in love with the young girl, maybe. However, he doesn’t let petty things like “plot” or “romantic interactions” interfere with his one true goal of finding a mystical time travel device that can send him back to his time to save his family. The only way to activate this device is through the ancient mummified god penis that he carries around.

He doesn’t find the device. Nothing really happens in this movie. He fights the other guys that are out of time before they learn that they were betrayed by someone else, who also is now in modern times for reasons that are never explained. And that is it. It’s so supremely clear that they were trying to make a franchise out of this movie, and a part of me really hopes that they make another one, because I truly have no idea how they can top what they “made” here. A part of me wants them to finish their story of love, betrayal, and shit.

The rest of me dearly hopes that they don’t.

1 Although he was in Blade 2, and that movie is goddamn amazing.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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