Christmas is creeping up quickly and it’s time to get list of cool shit ready to view for the holidays! So I’m here to throw a few largely unseen gems at you to mix things up this year that have the Xmas vibes oozing from them. Let’s waste no time, because ‘The Iceman Cometh’ from 1989 is not only one of the coolest kick ass Hong Kong action flicks, it also takes place during Christmas! Ho ho ho!
Yeah, If you’re looking for an Holiday action flick this year and are burnt out on ‘Die Hard’, then look no further than the ‘Iceman Cometh’. Leading dude Yuen Biao has just as much charisma and 10 times the damn moves of Bruce Willis anyday. Add the beautifully charming Maggie Cheung and the devilishly evil villain Yuen Wah and you’ve got yourself a bonafide blast of action, Christmas spirit, romance and supernatural shenanigans.
Long story short, we’ve got two highly skilled, super powered swordsmen hell bent on destroying each other, facing off in ancient China. In the midst of battle they become frozen in ice when falling off the edge of a snowy mountain- only to thaw out in 1980s Hong-Kong 300 years later! There they try and fit in while preparing for one final confrontation that could take them back to their own time.
I find this one particularly intriguing since most of the Hong-Kong movies I’ve seen never take place during the holidays and feature Christmas as a prominent set piece. The Iceman Cometh however has this going forward and then some! Yuen Biao has quickly become one of my all time favorite action stars and here all of his ass-kickin’, back flipping martial arts are on full jaw dropping display. Bone breaking stunts and a bad guy who’s so damn evil you’ll be cheering for someone to beat his ass to smithereens! Yuen Wah really shines as the ultimate villainous murderer.
Things only get worse too once he discovers how much evil he can Is accomplished in the 1980s with a wide array of firepower! Easily one of my favorite Hong-Kong productions it simply should not be missed. It’s got a ton of heart, a great story, incredibly likable colorful characters, wild action sequences, sharp comedy and even some sweet romance. It most definitely needs a wider US audience and an official blu ray release here in the states.
The fight sequences are truly stunning and even better there’s plenty of that hand drawn eighties lightning / electricity FX here that I love so much to go around to fully please any fan of the era. Count me so IN! It’s also a spectacle to see how amazing the city of Hong Kong looks in the 1980s, with neon a plenty & loads of cool fashion sported by Maggie Cheung and both of the Yuens. Everyone looks so cool and you can tell a lot of care went into making this one an unforgettable cinematic spectacle.
Make sure to watch for the rooftop scene with the 747 flying past, incredible detail in so many scenes. This is the classic fish out of water scenario done right and it still amazes me that Yuen Biao did not become just as big as Jackie Chan or Chow Yun Fat In the United States. So if you’re looking for something different this year to watch this Christmas don’t sleep on The Iceman Cometh! It’s got all the right moves for the holiday and then some! I recently bought a copy of this on blue ray but it can only be shipped from Hong Kong. Do a little poking around and I’m sure you must be able to stream it somewhere…
Here’s a sweet little Hong Kong horror/action/comedy hybrid from 1985 that really put a BIG smile on my face, ‘Those Merry Souls’. Yeah this all but forgotten flick has some serious star power, featuring the likes of martial arts legends like the charming Yuen Biao & the late horror icon “Mr. Vampire” himself Lam Ching Ying (RIP) together for one spooky comedic action packed romper.
Now as you can see the poster here. makes it look maybe like a full on comedy, and in many ways ‘Those Merry Souls’ plays out like one. However it also has a serious supernatural aspect and threat that slowly rears it’s head to the final genuinely creepy action packed finale. This one tells the story of two stuntmen one a wildly talented martial artist and his bumbling whiny cousin who’s obsessed with a beautiful local club singer. Oh yeah and their uncle has recently developed a rare creepy ability to astral project and has been helping people who die find their way to the other side. He helps those merry souls but during his waking life doesn’t remember a lick of it ever happening.
The two bosom buddy stuntmen spend most of their time trying to ridiculously find romance and getting into trouble while doing so, one of the best scenes takes place on a beach where Yuen Biao shines showing his kick ass martial arts skills taking on a gang beach bullies in only his skimpy little swim suit. Biao really should have been an international star, he’s got the skills and a similar raw charisma of Jackie Chan. Things do get a bit dark and scary here though and what starts off like the perfect 80’s Hong Kong buddy comedy morphs into a pretty thrilling little supernatural tale.
This happens when their uncle, while in his astral form is instructed to take the soul of his own nephew when he’s injured doing a wild stunt on a movie set. At the moment of truth though he decides to let him live & spare his soul a mistake that costs him his own life and sets forth an evil entity upon them. In a way it’s a tiny bit Final Destination and when they employ the help of their other uncle, played by Lam Ching Ying, who’s of course got some secret magic skills of his own to ward off evil, things get really interesting.
The film’s finale is joyous as the whole gang along with their girlfriends all face off the evil entity along with their taoist priest uncle in an action packed final showdown. The stakes get high and the action is off the rails bonkers in true Hong Kong fashion as the entity possesses members of the group and soon things erupt into a crazy supernatural kung fu battle.
We even get to see Lam Ching Ying and Yuen Biao go at it full force, which is treat to behold. Bottom line here, ‘Those Merry Souls’ is a damn good time balancing out the comedy, kung fu & supernatural elements in all the right ways, something I’ve noticed many Hong Kong films of this era seem to fail at in my opinion more often than succeeding. If you’re looking to get in 80’s Hong Kong Horror I highly recommend ‘Those Merry Souls’ as the perfect party movie to share with a hungry gang of movie maniacs!
And for fans of Yuen and LamChing Ying check this out too..