Directed by Oleg Stepchenko. With Jason Flemyng, Xingtong Yao, Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Early 1700: Cartographer Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) from Viy (2014) is back to map the Russian Far East. He’s forced on to China, where he confronts the Dragon Master et al. The iron masked Russian Czar escapes the Tower of London to a Russian ship.
The full minute of pre-roll credits and logos from the production companies gave me the correct impression: this is a labor of love from people that were pretty good in their own elements, but the story here is huge swing and a miss for me. There’s some pretty convoluted story twists, so spoilers ahead while I figure them out:
The full title of the film I think is “Journey To China: The Mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask”. They reveal in the first five minutes that the man in the Iron Mask is a king of Russia who was thrown in a London tower jail so that someone else could impersonate him back in Russia. This is discovered by a guy that invented a ‘more precise’ measuring tool for cartography, who had brought his invention to Russia to ask the King to be his Patreon. Upon discovery, he too is thrown in jail, this time in Russia. He uses one of his homing pigeons to write a letter to his wife back in London, turns out she’s the daughter of a wealthy man played by Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister from game of thrones). The bird is intercepted by the Man in The Iron Mask though, who as previously mentioned is in prison in a tower. Along with him in prison? A Chinese master, as played by Jackie Chan. There’s some conversation about what to do with the bird (eat it?) but the decide to write their own message on the back of the cartographer’s message and send it back on it’s journey to the cartographer’s wife.
Oh, and the English jailer is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who doesn’t even remotely look or sound English, he makes no attempt at hiding his accent, which is just fine in my book!
There’s a pocket demon, a dragon, white wizards, black wizards, princesses, kings, pirates, blonde lady pirates, and an remarkable amount of kung fu going on in the background.
It’s not a good film at the end of the day, but do I suggest you check it out with some friends over while having some drinks?
Oh hell yes I do.