THE ICEMAN COMETH
Director Huo Yao-Liang offers up a lightning paced array of acrobatics and martial arts displays dazzling backflips, mid-air aerobics, swordfights, gun battles, fight scenes hanging from Jeeps suspended in mid-air, even slow-motion shots showing people catching bullets, all executed with a breathless precision that leaves any near Western equivalent for dead. In one astounding sequence, Yuan Hua disables an opponent by flicking bullets at him with the impact of a gun; not merely content with that director Huo Yao-Liang has the downed man pulling one of the bullets out of his shattered leg to put back in the gun and continue shooting at Yuan after he runs out of ammunition. What is also refreshing in comparison to its Western parallels is the lack of macho posing and the neo-fascist underpinnings that fill the films of American martial artists like Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal.
The film is equally enjoyable for the broad humour it raises in its cultural clashes with Yuan Biao believing toilet water is for drinking, lighting log fires in the kitchen to cook and the like. The cast give excellent performances, particularly noticeable being the fact that they seem to all be doing their own stunts. The most charming of the performers though is Maggie Cheung the bored expression on her face as she is forced to endure an S&M scene or the moment she thrusts her shoe out to the police officer who promised to lick her toes when she claimed Yuan Biao was 300 years old is absolutely wonderful.
There is a cheerful absurdism to the film one that can happily produce a potion of losing martial arts abilities out of nowhere at a moments notice. In fact. the bad subtitling dynamite for dynamo, lotion for potion actually works in the films favour. If the film has a fault, it is in the happy ending imposed, which is content to have Yuan Biao return, inexplicably back in the present time and dressed as a student with glasses for some reason.
Huo Yao-Liang (also known as Clarence Yiu-leung Fok) has been a regular director of Hong Kong action and crime films since the 1980s. His most well-known film is the cult action film Naked Killer (1992). He has made occasional ventures back into genre material with the likes of:- the ghost story Dont Turn Around or Youll Be Sorry (2000); Dont Open Your Eyes (2006) about a mediumistic cop; and the supernatural adventure Dating a Vampire (2006).
Trailer here (no English subs):-
Full film available online here:-