"The Iceman Cometh", as it's known in the West, is a 1989 kung fu fantasy flick starring the great Yuen Biao, who was a contemporary of Jackie Chan at the Peking Opera School. Bizarrely, the movie shares its Western title with the famous play by Eugene O'Neill, which was immortalised on screen with a performance by Lee Marvin. Obviously, the two movies couldn't be more different.
This one begins in 16th century China, when our hero Yuen Biao is a Ming guard who is tasked with capturing his "brother", Feng San (Yuen Wah) who is a serial killer and rapist. Feng San explains that like our hero, he was made to study the martial arts for twenty-five years, and is now a master. His martial arts are now unbeatable, and so he figures it's time to enjoy himself - and for him, the best way to do that is with a bit of rape and serial murder of young women, including the Emperor's daughter, who he's already offed!
They have a confrontation on a snow-capped mountain in the middle of a blizzard and end up tumbling down a cliff and frozen together in a glacier.
Indeed, they're frozen so closely together that when they are found by some scientists in the present day, one of them observes that "This is proof homosexuality existed in ancient times"!
Some moronic thieves attempt to rob the warehouse where our frozen kung fu experts are kept, and in doing so, succeed in awakening the hero and villain of this story.
Bet you didn't see that coming.
The newly thawed Yuen Biao is then scene wandering a busy road in Hong Kong, asking himself, "Is this hell?" He narrowly misses being run over by a car, doing a forward flip over it, asking himself "why are there so many monsters?" He immediately ingratiates himself with a group of lazy homeless, who pretend to be starving for the do-gooder types who arrive dressed as Santa Claus and an angel. However, he assaults them when they try to play along with his supposed insanity by pretending to be the emperor. Sacrilege!
The film's female lead is introduced with a scene I didn't really understand. Maggie Cheung, a beautiful HK actress, plays a model who has to... pretend to be raped or abused by some guy to pay off her sister's debt? They get into a car together and he seems to pretend to whip her, while she pretends to be in pain? The movie is at pains to show that they are only pretending, so I didn't really get the point. Anyway, Yuen Biao comes on the scene and Cheung takes him as her bodyguard.
They go back to Cheung's "chaotic" apartment, where there are some genuinely amusing scenes as our recently thawed hero comes to terms with modern technology. He mistakes a toilet for an "electric well", and drinks from it while Cheung looks on and doesn't think to stop him. He also eats a cockroach, remarking that "it tastes far better than at home".
At this point we're wondering if Yuen is going to sleep with Cheung. She strips for the shower - though we don't see anything - and when Yuen touches her, he recoils, saying men shouldn't touch women. But the stage is obviously set for a romance of some sort. She even starts claiming that he's her boyfriend, and a Chinese gangster, to scare off the guys who are apparently after her. When they slap him, he comes to her aid, providing the second fight sequence. This features a strange shot where Yuen seems to catch a bullet with his hands.
At first Cheung is annoyed with Yuen, but predictably they start getting along as she realises he has his uses.
But what about the bad guy? Haven't seen much of him. He apparently has had much less trouble adjusting to modern society than Yuen Biao had. He's in with a group of thieves already, stealing jewellery and getting away by riding on car roofs.
Perhaps the Cheung character really is a prostitute? She's with a guy in an apartment, and pages (on a pager) Yuen Biao to come and kick the door down and beat the guy up. He then gives her thousands of dollars. So Yuen is a criminal now too?
The bad guy is abused by the wife of his criminal associate, so he tries to rape her. His associate comes home and tries to stop him, but finds him indestructible. The guy tries to shoot him, but the villain has already taken the bullets, which he is somehow able to flick back at the guy as though they were fired from a gun?
I thought Yuen and Cheung were headed straight for romance territory, but in fact she seems to be using him more as a slave, bragging to her friends that he's a moron and will do whatever she wants. He also realises that she is, indeed, a hooker, and he has been helping her cheat her customers.
Looking in the papers, Yuen realises that the villain has been thawed out and is back to his old ways, raping and beheading female victims. Cheung tries to get Yuen to come and help her rob her latest john, but he refuses - if only he knew it was his big brother! Yes, it's the Ming dynasty's kung fu ubermensch, Feng San. He ties Cheung up in the bathtub (while she's fully clothed) and breaks her hand by twisting it at the wrist.
Conveniently, Yuen calls Cheung again, and speaks to Feng San this time, realising he has to come and get her. Feng San and Cheung have relocated with suspicious alacrity to a nearby crypt - bye bye hotel room. Is that just a better place for a fight?
For some reason Yuen says he loves Cheung - as if that would make a psychopathic rapist and murderer rethink what he's doing - and to "prove it", Feng San throws him a poison that will make him lose all his skills if he drinks it, which of course he does. He is then apparently able to stop the poison with acupuncture needles, and follows Feng San on a horse while the villain drives. I said he was quick to adjust to modern society, but this is a little ridiculous.
His car ends up suspended by a crane at the pier, with Yuen hanging onto the side. They have a bit of a fight, while it see-saws over the ocean. Yuen falls in.
Then Feng San does a death-defying jump from the suspended car to some tarpaulin several metres below, which doesn't look nearly soft enough for such a landing to be safe, but of course he is uninjured. Yuen is the one who ends up in hospital, where Cheung goes to visit him. He repeats that he loves her, which is a sentiment that really seems to come out of nowhere. Why would he? They haven't had any intimate scenes.
Feng San has now graduated from criminal to terrorist. He is waving guns around with a paramilitary group and threatening to go back to Ming China and kill the emperor and have himself crowned in place. However, when he gets his hands on a sword, he decapitates one of his fellow terrorists - though this is shown without any blood or anything.
At long last we get the training montage as Yuen not only prepares for his final fight with Feng San, but also makes a sword he can use.
The final fight happens in a shopping centre, where Feng San decks himself out like Rambo, with a bullet belt, grenades, and two pistols. Yuen just uses the sword.
This last fight is actually kind of underwhelming. In the end, Yuen pulls a sword out of some kind of ancient sculpture thing and it starts spinning around and colours go everywhere. I didn't really get this part.
"The Iceman Cometh" is a very entertaining movie, but its fight scenes and stunts aren't up there with Yuen Biao's best.
Review by jadavix from the Internet Movie Database.