Ji dong ji xia (The Iceman Cometh)

The Iceman Cometh was last night’s DVD movie of choice.

Yes, another Hong Kong martial arts feature. This time from the late 1980s, the heyday of Jackie Chan, Samo Hung and Yuen Biao in Hong Kong action films. In this case it is Yuen Biao‘s turn to star, along with the wickedly good Yuen Wah. The female member of the trio is a very young Maggie Cheung.

The plot is simple – two brothers (the “we grew up in a monastery together” type of brotherhood) become enemies. One is the Chief Royal Guard to the last Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, while the other turns rapist and murderer.
Enter a little magic – the “Buddhist Wheel of Life” and the Black Buddha statue – and we step into a bit of time-travelling.

The newly 20th Centuried Ming Dynasty warriors adapt to their environment in predictably different ways. The Chief Royal Guard – Fong Sau-Ching (Yuen Biao) – finds help, and eventually love in the hooker Polla (Maggie Cheung).
Meanwhile, Fung San (Yuen Wah) finds connections in the criminal underworld. A vicious and nasty personality like Fung San cannot stay hidden forever, and his method of dispatching his victims brings him to the attention of Fong Sau-Ching who sets out to bring him to justice.

The martial arts stunts and action sequences are all you would expect and like to see in a movie like this. Yuen Wah did a great job of the choreography. It is crisp, fast and in places quite a homage to the skills of the artists.
Bear in mind that this film is over 15 years old and the styles, techniques and filming options have changed a great deal since then. Don’t expect to see a Hollywood Jackie Chan film. Expect to see its precursor.

Yuen Wah has a great line in the “Mwah hah haaaaaa” department. 👿
Slightly overdone to be taken seriously, but seriously bordering on the psychotic.

If you want an excellent modern view of Yuen Wah in action, you must try to get to see Kung Fu Hustle. It is hilarious, and a great showcase for the range that this veteran of Hong Kong action films is capable of.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5.
My advice: You probably have to be a fan of the genre to really enjoy this, or curious about the origins of Hollywood Blockbuster Kung Fu Action films. If you aren’t – stick to Shanghai Knights.

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