The Noble Review: ICEMAN 3D (2014)

In the Ming Dynasty, there lives four orphans, Ying (Donnie Yen), Sao (Wang Baoqiang), Yuanlong (Simon Yam) and Niehu (Yu Kang). Raised in Taoyuan Village, the four are as closed as brothers. Their exceptional martial arts skills allows them to reach the highest rank within the imperial guards. 
After the four successfully killed the Japanese troop leader, the Emperor orders Ying to escort the Golden Wheel of Time from Sindu (now India) back to the capital, which is said to have the power of time travel and foresee into the future.
From the correspondence between the Japanese and Ming officials seized from the mission, Mr. Tu, the Chief of National Defence, reveals that he can identify the traitor by the handwritings. On the way of escorting the Golden Wheel of Time in the snow, Ying is surprised to meet Sao, Yuanlong and Niehu. They inform Ying the news of the murder of Tu's family with Ying as the killer. The Emperor believes that Ying killed Tu in order to conceal his identity as traitor, so the Emperor orders the death of Ying and his clan as punishment. With the Trio sent out to catch Ying, a separate troop is sent to Taoyuan to kill the villagers. From the evidence presented to Ying, he comes to the conclusion that the traitor has to be one of the trio, and also the one behind the ruthless killing. Desperate to save the Taoyuan villagers, Ying chooses to fight his way out. The intensity of the duel has shaken the earth causing an avalanche that buries the four during the heat of battle. 
Now in 2013, Squire Tang, funded by a mysterious financer, digs up three ancient icemen from the outskirt of China; they are Ying, Sao and Niehu. As he is transferring the icemen to Hong Kong for further studies, the vehicle involves in a traffic accident which, unexpectedly, defrosts Ying. 
Frozen for 400 years arriving to modern day Hong Kong, by chance Ying meets an intoxicated May (Eva Huang) on Halloween evening, who later gives him shelter. With his intelligence and hard-work, Ying soon becomes more familiar with the idea of modern society with the help of the internet. While adapting to his new life, Ying and May also gradually starts to fall for each other. 
Ying also never forgets about the injustice that frames him. He comes across a historical record on the internet stating that he plotted a revolt which branded him with the reputation of a traitor in history. However, there is no information regarding the fate of the villagers. For Ying to correct history, he must use the Golden Wheel of Time. 
Sao and Niehu also reanimates at the present time. They continue the chase from the past into the present, eventually leads to a showdown on Tsing Ma Bridge. Yuanlong suddenly appears from a helicopter as a senior police officer. During the encounter, Ying gets shot and falls into the sea, where his outcome is uncertain...


Iceman 3D is a remake of the 1989 Clarence Fok movie Iceman Cometh. The original film is actually one of the best Hong Kong films from the 1980’s with an excellent blend of action and comedy. The original featured 3 excellent fight scenes, genuinely funny Hong Kong style comedy and great acting performances by Yuen Biao, Maggie Cheung and Yuen Wah? Can this 2014 remake live up to the high standards set by the original?

No. Definitely not. I am a really big fan of Donnie Yen and I was really hopeful for this remake to do the original film justice (especially given the fact that the budget for this film is insanely high) but it fails on every level. The basic premise of the film is similar to the original, except there are three Ming dynasty warriors now living in modern-day Hong Kong instead of two. 

I have many problems with the film. First of all, the action scenes are quite dreadful. Donnie Yen is a talented on screen fighter and fight choreographer but none of that is displayed here. We are subjected to about 3 CGI fight scenes with an insane usage of speed ramping. Speed ramping can be really effective if used sparingly but I don’t like it being overused, and in this film, overused would be a mere understatement. The fight scenes in this film actually make me miss the fight scenes from Special ID (another disappointing effort).

There is a big final showdown fight scene on one of the bridges in Hong Kong. What a letdown. It is a weaponry fight scene between the three warriors but is totally ruined with flying, CGI and a complete lack of proper fight choreography. I will admit that I like REAL and PROPER fight scenes, and the fights in this film are a disgrace to Hong Kong cinema and almost remind me of the dreadful 1999 Hong Kong movie Avenging Fist.

So the action is abysmal, but what about the story and the chemistry between the characters? The story is reasonable and does have some enjoyable moments (especially in the beginning), but Donnie’s character isn’t developed well. In the original movie, you really felt for Yuen Biao’s character, constantly empathizing with him and almost feeling sorry for him, but Yen’s performance is not suitable for this type of character and I felt nothing for the character. Also, the chemistry between Yen’s character and the leading female is almost non-existent. There is also a severe lack of screen time for the two villains in the film, and ends up lacking any sort of depth.

There will be a part two for Iceman but unless someone tricks me into seeing it, I will not voluntary watch the sequel. I fear for Donnie’s career in Hong Kong. It has been a long time since he has made a quality Hong Kong action film. My suggestion to him: scrap the CGI (Iceman & Monkey King), scrap the MMA (Special ID) and do what you do best!

Written by FCSyndicate Asian Cinema contributor Graeme Noble (4/30/13)Noble is an acclaimed independent filmmaker and actor, and represents one-half of his award-winning independent film company, Noble Brothers Productions with brother John-William Noble. For more information on his work, visit


  1. that's disappointing to hear:/

    still in the end, Flashpoint remains Donnie's best movie -__-

  2. Disappointed now because the Iceman now, I was looking forward to launch here in the internet, so I can watch and see the comments. Now I read that this movie is disappointing that the action is disappointing, lost the will to watch.


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