Newest Reviews
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Iron Mask, The
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Butterfly Murders, The
Lady is a Square, The
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Dark Rendezvous
Silk Road
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
  Iron Mask, The No-one escapes Arnie's dungeon
Year: 2019
Director: Oleg Stepchenko
Stars: Jason Flemyng, Yao Xingtong, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anna Churina, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Rutger Hauer, Li Ma, Pavel Volya, Christopher Fairbank, Yu Li, Charles Dance, Li Mengmeng, Igor Kistol, Aleksey Ogurtsov
Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Historical, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Imprisoned (for reasons that remain unclear) in the Tower of London, a Chinese kung fu Master (Jackie Chan) and his mysterious cellmate in an iron mask (Yuri Kolokolnikov) must contend with indomitable but honourable warden James Hook (Arnold Schwarzenegger). By improbable coincidence in through their window drifts a letter penned by British cartographer Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng). It recounts how, having narrowly survived his adventure with ghosts and demons in Russia, Jonathan returned home. Only to be newly expelled upon discovering Tsar of Russia and guest at the British court: Peter the Great has gone missing. Somehow Jonathan then finds himself travelling to China with a companion disguised as a boy but whom the Master correctly pegs as his student Princess Cheng Lan (Yao Xingtong), rightful heir to a throne usurped by an evil Witch (Li Ma) who has imprisoned their sacred dragon. Realizing they need help the Master helps his masked cellmate, none other than the real Peter the Great, escape with a mystical amulet Cheng needs to take down the witch.

Although not sold as such to international audiences this Russian-Chinese co-production is the sequel to Forbidden Empire (2015) a.k.a. Viy, Oleg Stepchenko's CGI-amped retelling of the classic Russian ghost story penned by Nikolai Gogol. That film was an incomprehensible mess. By comparison The Iron Mask, while no less bloated and convoluted, is a little more fun. Stepchenko attempts to fashion a jolly, effects-laden steampunk-cum-supernatural romp akin to Disney's similarly-bloated Pirates of the Caribbean films, interwoven with sort of a Russian-skewed riff on Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask and Chinese wu xia fantasy tropes, but his ambitions are hobbled by some admittedly slapdash storytelling. With a plot split three-ways between three sets of characters (later Russian star Anna Churina joins the fray as Green's wife who joins Peter the Great, disguised as a sailor, to search for her man), large chunks of screen-time leave viewers wondering whose story is this meant to be?

Flemyng's Jonathan Green is neither compelling nor charismatic enough to drive the story nor really stand out amidst the parade of colourful computer animated critters and high-flying wire fu. Similarly Game of Thrones veteran Kolokolnikov's quixotic and confounding Peter the Great talks big but, despite being arguably the title character, does little of consequence throughout the story. Only once the plot takes an explicit turn into wu xia territory, following Princess Chen's efforts to free her people from the witch and her three elemental-themed mech suited warriors, does The Iron Mask belatedly come into its own, giving free reign to some kooky ideas and fun set-pieces. The film does not become any easier to follow but at least invests this latter portion with engaging characters and emotional stakes. Less studio bound than Forbidden Empire, its spectacular locations lend the comic book action a certain epic sweep with a lively climax that brings together ninjas, pirates, robots and an impressive dragon.

For obvious commercial reasons international marketing spotlights Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, here reunited on screen after Around the World in Eighty Days (2004). The ageing action stars share a silly slapstick tussle, unlikely to sate die-hard Eighties action fans, but an endearing example of Jackie's enduring wit and inventiveness as fight choreographer. Even though the script’s absurd efforts to convince us lumbering septuagenarian Schwarzenegger (who cuts a clownish figure bellowing absurd dialogue about his fitness regime through a walrus moustache) is the "toughest opponent" the still-sprightly Jackie has ever fought smack of efforts to appease Arnie's ego. Nevertheless as silly fantasy romps go, Iron Mask is a step up from Forbidden Empire and, taken as a one-dimensional B-picture, kind of endearing.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 248 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor


Last Updated: