This 2018 fantasy martial arts film, a sequel to 2014s Iceman, is directed by Wai Man Yip and stars Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Shengyi Huang, Kang Yu and Simon Yam.

The time-travelling Ming dynasty warrior Ho Ying (Yen) is frozen in time due to an avalanche when he and his forces are attacked by traitors Sao (Wang), May (Haung) and San-Ko (Yu).

Thawed out in the present day China, Ying has now become familiar with the modern day of living. But the warriors out to get him have also awoken, intent on destroying him, and in doing so have turned China into a place laced with fear, violence and villainy.

The only way Ying can protect not just those he cares for but the country he loves is to return back to his native time and find out the truth behind this uprising and put a stop to it before all is lost…

Donnie Yen returns as Ho Wing – the ‘Iceman’ – a Ming dynasty warrior who has discovered the secret of time travel. Now as this is a follow up to the 2014 original, you may well be going in blind if you didn’t know that already. And if you do, you’ll struggle a heck of a lot more than if you actually know what was going on and why.

Sadly, the lacklustre offering here does not cater to the talent we know Yen has, and with a lazy, poe-faced script and less than your average TV movie CGI graphics, this confusing and laborious story of one man waging a time war on evil villains to save not just his past, but also his present, has been done to death a thousand times. But it’s been done better. This is no Highlander tale of exciting, cut-throat time-travelling warriors battling across the decades, nor is it the fun and well-scripted and thought out adventures of Back To The Future.

Donnie Yen comes across like he can’t act unless he’s throwing punches and kicks in choreographed fight scenes. It’s clearly not true when you see him in the Ip Man franchise and even Rogue One: A Star Was Story. The script and direction let him down here, and it’s a confusing mess of character development and anti-climactic story arcs that never really come to full bloom, even with such a simple premise and a very short running time to boot.

There is nothing to take here as a sequel, or even a stand-alone film. The story is confusing after a drab ten-minute opening that sets out not just what’s happened before but also the science (!?!) of what makes time-travel possible. This isn’t fun, nor is it exciting, captivating or entertaining. It feels rushed and cheap, and sadly comes across rushed and cheap with little clear indication of what the story is they want to tell.

If you make it more than 15mins, then you deserve a medal. Stick to more well produced, well written and well thought-out martial arts/time travel movies. This is not one of them.

My Rating

Cine Asia presents Iceman: The Time Traveler on Digital Download 21st January and on DVD April 2019

Directed by: Wai Man Yip
Cast: Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Shengyi Huang, Kang Yu, Yasuaki Kurata
Release Date: 21st January 2019 (Digital)