Hong Kong Cinema

Iceman Cometh

  • Made: 1989
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 2 PAL
  • Release Date: 25 Jul 2005
  • Company: Hong Kong Legends
  • Length: 114 mins
  • Picture: Widescreen Screen 1.85:1 Anamorphic
  • Sound: DD5.1 and 2.0 Mono
  • Language: Cantonese / English language options
  • Extras: Audio Commentary, Interview with Yuen Wah, Yuen Biao, Trailers, Biography
  • Classification: 15


Clarence Fok


Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Wong Jing, Helena Law Lan, Laam Chin Si, Lai Yin Saan, Anthony Wong Yiu Ming, Corey Yuen Kwai

Iceman Cometh arrived on the silver screen soon after the golden triangle of the 80's had ceased to be a productive force. Dragons Forever was the end of the line for Yuen Biao as he became disillusioned with the lesser roles he was afforded by his 'brothers' Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. However, Iceman Cometh fared well at the box office taking HK $14,433,000 during a six week run, even without his more illustrious pals.

Iceman Cometh benefits from Yuen Biao once again crossing swords with another opera school buddy, Yuen Wah (also worked with Yuen Biao in Hand of Death, Eastern Condors, Dragons Forever etc). At the directorial helm, Clarence Fok also managed to secure the services of Yuen Tak who went onto to choreograph Hero (1997) with Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah, and Operation Scorpio. The leading lady was given to the ever-entertaining Maggie Cheung.


The film is a tribute to the legendary Christopher Lambert swordplay epic Highlander. Few other movies have more summed up the 80's action movie; tight jeans, urban sprawl and manically obsessive heroes and villains. Iceman Cometh respectfully draws on the styles and themes of Highlander without ever inviting cries of plagiarism. Yuen Biao (Royal Guard Feng San Ching) and Yuen Wah (Evil warlord Fung San) play friends buddies turned enemies from the Ming Dynasty. After falling down an ice crevice, the two are frozen, only to be re-awoken in the modern era!

Yuen Biao is tricked into becoming the servant of Maggie Cheung which provides the light hearted relief for the movie. This could hardly be called a love story, and Clarence Fok seems to casually pay service to Maggie and Biao's relationship without ever genuinely exploring it. Meanwhile, Yuen Wah carries on his general womanising 'one-man crime wave' ways. Iceman Cometh reaches climax when Yuen Wah tries to travel back in time armed to the teeth with modern weaponry. Only Yuen Biao can save the day, but has poison ruined his martial arts powers!?


The special effects are as always about fifteen years behind Hollywood, but are still quite entertaining. The effects rarely detract from the action, which is in contract to other less successful Biao outings (Peacock King). The opening encounter is a tightly choreographed sword fight and there is not a great deal more combat until the end. This does not stop from Yuen Biao throwing in one of his trademark stunts down at the docks!

The final climax draws from Highlander with the classic fight by the 30ft high advertising lights on the top of a skyscraper. This is when you really realise that the Iceman has Cometh! We had been promised such a fight at the end of Eastern Condors and Dragons Forever, but in both cases Biao had been felled with humiliating ease before Jackie or Sammo step in to save the day. This time there are no unfulfilled promises, we get exactly what we paid for. This is part martial arts and part extreme stunts. Both Biao and Wah were on the top of their game and assisted by Yuen Tak in producing a spectacular showpiece. If anything, you kind of get the impression that they are feeling so good that they are actually showing off!


Hong Kong Legends - Region 2 PAL disc (July 2005)

For the patient and the newly initiated, this is certainly the disc to get. It features a reliably good remastering job from Hong Kong Legends, with the expected dual language options and DD5.1 audio. The extras are a real treat with a full Bey Logan audio commentary plus priceless interviews with Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah

(The recent DVD passed at cert 15 with no cuts, the original UK video release had 13 seconds of cuts and cert 18)

Media Asia - Region 3 NTSC disc (April 1999)

The Media Asia disc is unspectacular but a fair value import. The extras leave nothing to get excited about, and the subtitles are at their normal low Hong Kong standard. To Media Asia's credit it is a reasonable widescreen print and comes in 5.1 Dolby Digital Cantonese audio (no English dubbed track)


Picture Quality Comparison:

To see a comparison of the Hong Kong Legends and Media Asia disc - click here


Many fans opt for films that promise more established stars and normally overlook Iceman Cometh, but for me this is certainly worth owning. It provides the hugely overdue final encounter between Biao and Wah, and is a fitting homage to the tight jeans and white trainers of the Christopher Lambert era. Everyone puts in a solid performance, and I would even go as far as to say this is Yuen Biao finest work outside the 'Three Brothers'. Some things are best served chilled, and Iceman Cometh is a very cool offering.