The Iron Mask

Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Iron Mask
Verdict: 
3/10 - Unfortunately for Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Iron Mask falls into so-bad-it's-good territory.
Release Date: 
Monday, June 8, 2020
Written by: 

Set in the 18th century, The Iron Mask follows the exploits of cartographer Jonathan Green as he undertakes a journey from England to China.

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Just the sight of the names Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger on a movie poster will be enough to spark joy amongst fans of '80s and '90s action films.

But while the film legends do go head-to-head in new film The Iron Mask, this flick certainly isn't the most momentous of onscreen reunions.

Directed by Oleg Stepchenko, this Russian-Chinese project is actually a sequel to 2014 movie Viy and sees British actor Jason Flemyng reprise his role as 18th-century cartographer Jonathan Green.

This time around, the plot kicks off in Moscow and follows Green as he attempts to drum up some interest in his maps amongst the royal family.

Yet, he soon comes to suspect the tsar he was expecting to meet, Peter the Great (Yuri Kolokolnikov), has been overthrown.

While sitting in a jail cell, Green meets Cheng Lan (Xingtong Yao), a young woman masquerading as a male warrior whose homeland has been overtaken by a two-faced sorcerer.

From there, the pair team up to go on an adventure east, while the audience is also introduced to a side plot back in England involving Green's romantic interest Miss Dudley (Anna Churina) attempting to discover if the mysterious Russian prisoner forced to wear an iron mask is jailed in the Tower of London.

Of course, Peter isn't alone in jail, as his cellmate is none other than Master, as played by Chan, who has a special connection to Cheng.

 

But before anything else can happen in this chaotic tale, the viewer is treated to the main event of the whole production - a showdown between Master and jailer James Hook, as portrayed by Schwarzenegger, who doesn't even bother attempting an English accent.

Lasting more than 10 minutes, the sequence showcases Chan's martial arts skills and Schwarzenegger's physicality - and is easily the most entertaining and well-executed part of the film - if you can manage to ignore the wild wigs and bizarre costuming.

Unfortunately, the rest of the screenplay isn't so successful and suffers from attempts to merge too many worlds and far too many ideas.

Forget the allusions to other, better films (Mulan and The Man in the Iron Mask being just two) and historical inaccuracies - there's also an inexplicable barrage of references to ancient myths, dragons and flying monkeys, CGI landscapes, as well as underdeveloped and dubbed characters.

And let's not even get started on the random appearances from Charles Dance, who reprises his role as Lord Dudley from the first feature, as well as Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, in one of his final films.

Over all, The Iron Mask is an entirely baffling cinematic experience and should be left to die-hard fans or those willing to accept a film that at best falls into the so-bad-it's-good territory.

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