You know that a movie is in trouble when the first ten minutes focuses on summarizing the previous film via a philosophical voiceover. This is how ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER starts and it may honestly be the most coherent section of the film. Starring Donnie Yen as the male protagonist, one would hope that the classic much-beloved time traveling genre in East Asian cinema would have lifted off. However, this particular contribution is a big dud and sinks to the bottom of the heap.
The general synopsis for ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER is as follows. The imperial guard (Donnie Yen) and his three traitorous childhood friends ordered to hunt him down get accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years pass and they are defrosted continuing the battle they left behind. In all honesty, this synopsis would also fit the film’s predecessor, Iceman, since that film primarily focuses on the unfrozen imperial guard trying to figure out modern day Hong Kong before finding that his so-called friends were also there in the same time period as him.
The film itself, despite how utterly convoluted the plot was, is held up mostly by its plot and its CGI effects. The plot primarily focuses on the imperial guard, Ho Ying, needing to go back in time in order to try to circumvent the tragedy that unfolded his clan village prior to him being frozen. This single plot thread keeps things from completely flying off the rails, though there are many instances in ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER where you think you might have fallen off the train and been left behind on the track. There are quite a few side adventures that distract from the film’s point, which arrives within another voiceover within the last minute or two before the credits roll.
In terms of character development, it’s really hard to find any in this film. The screenwriters Fung Lam and Mark Wu seemed more focused on action sequences within time traveling scenarios rather than focusing on Ho Ying’s development throughout the course of the movie. Donnie Yen manages to find some way to convince the audience that Ho Ying has finally reached a sense of clarity and humility at the end of ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER, but the script does not lend itself to guiding the actor to that direction.
Overall, it may be best to skip out entirely on ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER. There is not much that the sequel does to further the series development or the character development of the leading ICEMAN himself. The plot, of what little makes sense, flies off in all directions before coming together in the end. For many people, the plot still won’t make much sense and may lead many to be frustrated trying to follow along. If you are a hardcore fan of Donnie Yen, I might recommend this just to watch him kick all the butt. If not, just pass on this.
ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER is ready to travel to your homes today on digital, DVD, and Blu-ray today.