Viy 2: Journey to China (The Iron Mask) 龍牌之謎 (2019) - Russia / China
Aka: Mystery of the Dragon Seal
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
This is by all means a strange film, the sequel to Russian hit 2014’s film 「Viy」 comes a totally standalone co-production between China and Russia. Helmed by Russian director Oleg Stepchenko, 「Viy 2: Journey to China」plays like a combination of various films and throw in the novelty attraction of Jackie Chan chain fighting head to head with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two heavyweights of international action icons remain the key star attractions, but at all times appears to be in a totally different film from the rest of the story including the budgeted CGI effects that varies from the excellent tower of England to the illuminating scenery of China fields and castle.
Jackie Chan doesn’t headline this film, in fact the much publicised fight scenes with Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only notable appearance for both actors in the movie. Of course, the gimmick helps the international distribution and the fight scene between the two ageing masters is always a pleasure to endure. The real star of the film is given to Helen Yao whose previous acting career is largely indebted to Jackie Chan’s related movies including 「CZ12」, 「Police Story」 and 「Who Am I 2015」. Yao gets to play the good and the bad guy roles and mostly excelled with decent charisma required. Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance reprise their respective roles from the first film and are largely there as second fiddles. Late Dutch legend Rutger Hauer makes his final on-screen appearance in a small role.
All in all, 「Viy 2: Journey to China」 is really a big mess of a film that is all over the place without a single point of focus. With a large budget of USD 50 million, it’s a shame that the CGI are not better transferred onto the big screen. It is even more disappointing that action fans eagerly awaited pairing of Chan and Schwarzenegger is suitably wasted in their respective roles, even if they are the best thing in this film. Clocked at almost two hours, the film feels clogged up and with the best scenes being inside the tower, the China segment fails to ignite any sorts of entertainment. Helen Yao shows she is more than capable of taking the 「Mulan」 mantle, even if it is a little too late. Otherwise, this is a forgettable affair.
I rated it 5/10