Iceman (Blu-ray Review)

Iceman Donnie Yen is a Ming Dynasty palace guard, wrongly accused of murder and hunted by three vengeful brothers. All four are accidentally buried, frozen at the height of battle. 400 years later, they are defrosted and resume their mortal struggle while also adjusting to modern-day life. Iceman is the remake of the 1989 film Iceman Cometh. I always look forward to new films from Donnie Yen, because he can be a very vicious fighter depending on the material. Let’s see what Iceman has to offer on Blu-ray! 




Iceman is Donnie Yen’s latest martial arts film in which he plays a warrior from the Ming Dynasty era that has been frozen for about 400 years along with three brothers sworn to kill him. Now in the present day they are all thawed out and pissed. He Ying (Donnie Yen) must now adjust to normal modern life but it’s pretty hard when you’re walking around in armor. Time to go shopping, right? Yeah, hijinks ensue and He Ying has to battle those three brothers that I mentioned before all over the city and in broad daylight. There’s tons of convolution in terms of the story, plot, and pacing, which have something to do with trying to acquire Shiva’s penis. In the film it’s hinted that it’s needed for time travel or something. Yeah, no.

Oh Donnie, what have thou become? Donnie is charting very dangerous Jackie Chan territory and it’s not helping. Chen always seemed to be along the lines of Jet Li but with more ferocity but now that Iceman and Special ID, which was not very good, he’s gone to caricature land. When I first the trailer for Iceman it looked a bit like Highlander on acid but when I watched the film itself it was anything but exciting. I’ve seen my fair share of martial arts films that use wirework to enhance the fights but this thing uses wirework to make people literally fly across the screen. It’s dull and really pulls you out of the film.

There are some funny “bits” to Iceman that involve piss and poop jokes (I find piss, poop, and fart jokes funny) but when you have a film that is supposedly serious or that deals with a serious matter and thrown in a scene where guy pisses out a lake it gets taken down to Austin Powers’ land. That’s no knock to Austin Powers. The co-stars of the film do what they can with their characters as they’re either meant to be annoying, useless, or not likable at all. It’s more like all of the above in this case. I mentioned the Highlander angle, because there are quite a few scenes in which we time travel and flash back to the events leading up He Ying’s trials and tribulations. They’re filmed fine but contextually they’re silly.

The biggest sin in Iceman is that all that came before is basically a long prologue to the eventual sequel that is set-up by the end. Iceman did not due well in Asian territories but the fact that there’s a sequel on the way had no bearing on that. They must have had the funds at the ready whether Iceman bombed or not. Donnie Yen is still a powerhouse and an epic fighter but he needs to step it up a bit and take on material that may be dangerous (story wise) and put his skills to better use than slapstick comedies. We already have people that do those – it’s time to do a 180-degrees and seek out more action-drama roles. You can put Iceman back in the fridge.




Encoding: AVC Mpeg-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Iceman is crustal clear purity on Blu-ray – I only noticed a bit or two of contrast fluctuations but nothing major. Carry on.

Depth: The level of depth on this Blu-ray will chill you to the core in a good way. It’s so clear that sometimes the lackluster CGI will show through the facade of film make-believe. It’s that crystal clear.

Black Levels: There are many scenes that take place in darkness and I am happy to say that those levels never crush.

Color Reproduction: Color levels are outstanding and I did not notice any banding or pixilation in some of the more colorful scenes. The color palette tends to shift from colorful to muted at any given time.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones look great and everyone seemed frostbite free! Okay, ew.

Noise/Artifacts: Noise, debris, artifacts, and anomalies were absent.




Audio Format(s): Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Iceman on Blu-ray rocks extremely hard. It’s one Blu-ray that you won’t have to put on ice. It’s a reference track of the highest caliber. The film is action packed as it is but the lossless surround track enhances everything that is going to great effect. Sure, the movie isn’t great, but it does pack a chill. You may have to put an ice pack on your head after watching due to the pummeling you will receive.

Low Frequency Extension: Oh yeas, the LFE channel is in full effect here, with some earth rumbling low-end bass. It only rumbles when it needs to and never before it has to.

Surround Sound Presentation: Since there is some whacky wirework on display and everyone is flying around – the surround sound channels capture this with intense clarity. Weapons and such fly around back there with precision.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is very corny at times but the center channel captures the absurdity flawlessly. Clipping and distortion are nowhere to be found here.




The Special features on this Blu-ray were left on ice it seems, because all we get a 20-minute making of featurette that is broken up into segments and a trailer. They’re both presented in high definition.

  • Making Of  (HD, 20:00) – Here’s a just-over-twenty-minutes featurette divided into several segments where cast and crew talked about how great it was to work with one another. It’s the same sort of featurette that is packaged up with every new release nowadays.
  • Trailer (HD) – This is the theatrical trailer for Iceman. It is presented in high definition.





Another misfire on the ‘ol Donnie Yen resume I’m afraid – I knew what to expect from the trailers but it’s just a very incongruent film and the superman-like wire work and questionable CGI just drop this thing like a brick. Well Go USA has done a great job on the technical specifications – the video is near reference and the audio blows the house down. Special features are slim, though. Donnie Yen shows no signs of slowing down, so I hope he makes a film where he can unleash his fury without it being a total farce or misfire. Iceman is not a good movie but the Blu-ray rocks.




Order Iceman on Blu-ray!



Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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