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Film Review: “Iceman: The Time Traveller” (2018) ★★


What is the most powerful weapon on Earth? It’s of course knowledge. Money begets power and power allows to gain control – control over resources and how it will be distributed. That said, what if one person gets access to a time machine? How will that opportunity be used? Will that individual travel back in time to stop WWII, prevent JFK’s assassination or traveling through time back and forth will result in gaining enough knowledge to create a weapon that can destroy the entire planet? The first few options sound like someone with a kind heart would do, but watching “Iceman: The Time Traveller”, we learn once again – no matter what happens, we humans will never learn to care or share.

The film follows Ho Ying (Donnie Yen), a noble Ming Dynasty General who, after surviving the battle against his fellow blood brothers Cheung/Yuanlong (Simon Yam), Niehu (Yu Kang) and Sao (Wang Baoqiang), even after being frozen and defrosted, they continue their battle 400 years later in modern-day Hong Kong. Realizing that there’s only one way to reverse the past and have a different outcome for his people, Ho Ying uses his time traveler device to prevent the tragedy. However, it will be proven that no matter what he does, there will be no easy way to change history if he can’t control his own fate.

The long opening introduction of Ho Ying helps the viewer to get a glimpse of the story we’re about to see. Ho Ying explains that with the control of time, we people can travel back in time and future to control fate and change history. And this is what he determines to do after introducing us to himself, the year he was born (1591), how he met his three best friends who soon turn into foes and the epic battle they picked up even 400 years later that they left behind. Through that, we meet May (Shengyi Huang), the young woman who falls for our protagonist and is willing to travel with him back to Ming dynasty, which she does (but no worries, we by then know she has no job or family to leave behind).

There are a lot of gaps in the screenplay written by Fung Lam and Mark Wu. If you have seen the first part of the film, then you certainly would like to get some conclusion. But unfortunately, it seems that this piece intends to continue on and on with another sequel we have to wait to be filmed first. But for someone who has not seen the first part, does not mind the weak narrative, and wants the kind of action that only Hong Kong cinema can offer, then make no mistake going with “Iceman: The Time Traveller” for the Friday night movie event.

I can’t tell that director Wai Man Yip failed to fulfill the only duty he had – to provide a decent movie. However, it’s not that bad at all. Yes, the lack of logical reasoning, common sense, and the ability to tackle the time-traveling concept could’ve been a bit better. Call me idealistic, but one positive thing I still found in it, which I hope you will do as well – Time-travel concept is always interesting, intriguing and helps us to wish to have one of those devices for ourselves. And this film succeeds conveying one important message – we human beings cannot have such a powerful tool. Because we are not in a position to use it for the benefits of humanity, but rather against it. And as for changing history, we first need to learn to control our own lives, come up with something useful, and then aim something bigger than changing the world. But if our world is a mess, what can we offer to a new one? As this movie rightly suggests – nothing.

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