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The Iceman Cometh DVD Review (Region 2)

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    Oct 9, 2004
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/TheIcemanCometh/TheIcemanComethR2.jpg' ALT='THE ICEMAN COMETH DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>THE ICEMAN COMETH</FONT><br>Reviewed August 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Cas Harlow&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Cas Harlow</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 7</B></P><P>Maggie Cheung is one of Asia’s most talented and most prolific actresses. After nearly two decades in the industry she has proved herself in myriad projects, from Wong Kar Wai’s magnificent Love trilogy to, most recently, a moving French film called Clean. However, back in the late eighties she starred in the martial arts action-comedy fantasy, The Iceman Cometh, where she played second fiddle to two martial arts masters, Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah, whose skills continue to amaze to this day.</p><P>The story kicks off in 17th Century China, where the evil moustachioed villain, Fung San, slaughters his way to the mystical Black Jade Buddha. Ming Guard Fong Sau-Ching is dispatched to retrieve the priceless item and, after an epic battle with Fung atop a snow-covered mountain, the two are buried in the ice and left for dead. More than three hundred years pass and we find ourselves now in booming 80s China where a team of researchers come across the frozen bodies of these two great warriors, inadvertently thawing them out and letting them loose in society. After a short period of getting accustomed to this new environment the soon revert to their ancient directives, Fung resuming his merciless campaign of evil and terror whilst Fong is in pursuit, still trying to stop him. </p><P>The Iceman Cometh is a fast-paced action-packed fun ride, with lots of martial arts acrobatics and powerful swordplay, along with a fair amount of comedy thrown in that utilises the standard fish-out-of-water device. Not wholly unlike Highlander in style – and also in effects – it boast the marks of many late eighties actioners of a similar ilk: the Ghostbusters effects, the clichéd dialogue, the Van Damme-style double or triple-takes of the same punches and kicks. Still, despite these things that would often date a movie beyond the point of being watchable, it remains quite good fun, with lots of awe-inspiring martial arts action and plenty of amazing Jackie Chan style stunts.<P></p>A great deal of the praise should go to the two leads – Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah. Biao does pretty well in his heroic role, but Wah is even more astounding. He should be laughable in his caricature of a villain – complete with Fu Man Chu moustache – but, as you will know if you have seen him in the excellent Kung Fu Hustle, where he played the henpecked husband, he has a great deal of charisma to back up his antics. They both work well together, despite the restrictions of plot and script which, at times, are positively embarrassing – and not intentionally so. Maggie Cheung supports them up competently, looking quite cute back in her younger days and coming across as sassy as hell in her role as the model-turned-hooker, Polla, who helps Fong make the transition to the 20th Century. All in all it is a highly enjoyable action romp – with equal amounts of comedy and fantasy mixed in with a heavy serving of martial arts action.</P><P><B>Picture : 4</B></P><P>Presented in a letterboxed widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio non-anamorphically enhanced transfer, this movie really has seen better days. I’m sure this is the best presentation that is currently available, but it suffers from almost every single problem that DVD transfers can suffer from. There is a heavy layer of grain running throughout, some scenes exhibit shocking softness, the detail is distinctly lacking, the colours are faded and the contrast varies from shot to shot, making it look even more low-budge than it is. Taking that all into account, there are few print defects in the form of scratches and dust and the blacks are nominally solid – and overall you’re not likely to find it made unwatchable by its poor presentation. Given the age of the material I can fully understand the state it is in.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/TheIcemanCometh/TheIcemanComethR2_1.jpg' ALT='THE ICEMAN COMETH'></P><P><B>Sound : 5</B></P><P>The audio presentation is equally disappointing – but for the same reasons of age. The two original language tracks are in Cantonese, the original mono track being superseded by the Dolby Digital 2.0 effort. The dialogue is present fairly clearly, with some decent if tinny effects, a little bit of light score and thankfully no HK ballads to be found. Unfortunately the whole mix is squashed into the restricted array and comes across sounding distinctly limited. The subtitles are very good and much more coherent than most Asian studio equivalent presentations. By the way, the dubbed version should only be approached to enhance the comedic value of this movie.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/TheIcemanCometh/TheIcemanComethR2_2.jpg' ALT='THE ICEMAN COMETH'></P><P><B>Extras : 7</B></P><P>First up we get a full-length audio commentary with Hong Kong Cinema expert Bey Logan, who frantically takes us through all of the background into not only the production but also the era in Asian cinema history that it was made in. He knows altogether far too much about everything to do with this and many similar films, reeling off the cast and crew biographies in a way that they could probably not do themselves. In fact he probably knows more about this film than any single person actually involved in the production itself. Despite all of this, his fuel-injected trivia barrage is only manageable in short doses. I personally got sick of this man a long time ago purely because he has no idea how to talk to an audience; all he can do is talk at an audience. For fans of the movie, the genre or this stage in Asian cinema history, there is plenty of trivia to keep you entertained.</p><P>There are two fairly hefty recent interviews with the lead protagonists – Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah, who speak for ten minutes and fifteen minutes respectively and happily recall their experiences of the production. They discuss the obstacles they faced, the ice-cold snow set, the difficulty in doing some of the scenes and the many funny incidents that occurred behind the scenes. The interviews are packed with an unnecessary amount of footage from the final film itself but are saved largely by the anecdotal value that they exhibit.</p><P>Finally there are a two trailers for the main feature itself and a selection of trailers for other similar movies in the Hong Kong Legends and Premier Asia range, including several classic Chow Yun Fat films and the excellent Ong Bak</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/TheIcemanCometh/TheIcemanComethR2_3.jpg' ALT='THE ICEMAN COMETH'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 6.32 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/TheIcemanCometh/TheIcemanComethR2_BR.jpg' ALT='THE ICEMAN COMETH'></P><P><B>Verdict : 6</B></P><P>This frantic martial arts action-comedy fantasy is simply bristling with energy and enthusiasm and does not fail to entertain despite its dated traits. The video presentation and audio tracks are fairly rudimentary, but that is only to be expected considering its age. The extras are pretty comprehensive, particularly for those who enjoy the movie and this release is well worth your time if you like the genre and this type of action romp. If you’re unsure, it’s still worth a rental to keep you entertained after a late night out in town.</p><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>THE ICEMAN COMETH (1989)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ACTION' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ROMANCE' target='_blank'>ROMANCE</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=SCI-FI' target='_blank'>SCI-FI</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=COMEDY' target='_blank'>COMEDY</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=CLARENCE FOK YIU-LEUNG' target='_blank'>CLARENCE FOK YIU-LEUNG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=BIAO YUEN' target='_blank'>BIAO YUEN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=MAGGIE CHEUNG' target='_blank'>MAGGIE CHEUNG</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=WAH YUEN' target='_blank'>WAH YUEN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=SARAH LEE' target='_blank'>SARAH LEE</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>2</B> <FONT>(UK)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Hong Kong Legends. Released Monday 25th July 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>16.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>110 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>28</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Non-Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0<BR>Cantonese Dolby Digital 1.0<BR>English Dolby Digital 2.0</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, English Commentary</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Audio Commentary with HK Cinema expert Bey Logan<BR>Bey Logan Biography<BR>Interviews with Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah<BR>Trailers</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>

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