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Journey To China: The Mystery Of Iron Mask

It’s Like A Pantomime

31st March 2020

Back in 2014, British actor Jason Flemyng (“Pennyworth (TV)”, “Homeless Ashes”) starred in a Russian movie called Forbidden Kingdom.

That film was a flop worldwide, everywhere that is, except for its native Russia where it was the highest grossing movie of the year, and so, a sequel was greenlit, this is that sequel.

And what a sequel; it’s terrible, on almost every level, this is a bad film. It is far to long at two-hours, the dubbing is like watching Hong Kong action films of the eighties and the CGI isn’t much better. All of this is before we even get on to the story which manages to be both thin and confusing at the same time.

If you go into the movie hoping for a Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or even Charles Dance, Rutger Hauer or Christopher Fairbank movie, you will be sadly disappointed, but then, you’ll be disappointed either way.

Dance is in the movie for all of a few minutes, Hauer for seconds and Fairbank has so much make-up on it’s hard to tell if it’s actually him or not, for the few minutes he’s in it.

As for Chan and Schwarzenegger, well, you do get to see them fight at least. But this is not the Chan and Schwarzenegger we know of yester-year; they’re old guys now and the fighting is plodding, stylised and they stop to pay each other compliments like it’s written in their contracts.

No, this is primarily a Flemyng and sidekick Chen, Xingtong Yao (“Chinese Zodiac”, “Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia”), movie as the two head East from Russia because…I don’t know, I mean, I do, but seriously, it’s not important and after two-hours of this I don’t care.

The movie feels like, and looks like, a gigantic pantomime. The characters huff and puff, their clothes colourful, the sets colourful, it wouldn’t surprise me if they wobbled at times.

There are pirates, women dressed as men, men dressed as women, a weird, not a parrot but acts like one creature thing that swoops in to prod the cast when things are getting a bit bogged down and even songs, yes songs, plural, songs.

Oleg Stepchenko is back in the directors chair and also writes alongside two helpers. Fair play to him for getting a sequel and for the people he got involved, including getting both Chan and Schwarzenegger to produce the movie.

To pick on something positive it would have to be Xingtong Yao who is a wonderful fighter, very Chan-esq in her movements, her opening fight scene has elements of comedy and throughout she uses whatever she has to hand.

Other than that, I’m struggling. It just doesn’t feel like there’s any substance to the movie. I’m sure a lot of people spent a lot of time on Journey To China: The Mystery Of Iron Mask but the end product is sadly lacking in anything other than one or two fight scenes.


10th April 2020

Oleg Stepchenko

Oleg Stepchenko, Dmitry Paltsev, Alexey A. Petrukhin

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An all star cast star in Journey to China: The Mystery of Iron Mask, but can an all star cast make an all star film?

Alexey A. Petrukhin, Anna Churina, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Dance, Dmitry Paltsev, Jackie Chan, Jason Flemyng, Oleg Stepchenko, Rutger Hauer, Xingtong Yao

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