Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger share the screen for the first time in the utterly bonkers The Iron Mask.
A Russian-Chinese co-production, The Iron Mask (or, to use one of its many alternative titles The Mystery of the Dragon Seal), is itself a sequel to a Russian hit Viy. This sequel represents a coming together of two cinematic sensibilities, with a film that takes flavours from all kinds of blockbusters and applies the good old kitchen sink approach in the hope that something sticks. What it results in is a melting pot of styles that is nigh on impossible to follow. But hell, it’s not NOT entertaining.
The film follows explorer and cartographer Johnathan Green (Jason Flemyng), whose adventures charting the map of the world take a bizarre turn when he becomes part of an epic quest that involves the Russian Tsar, the Tower of London, a tea guarding dragon and a Chinese princess who must return to her home to free her people from an evil imposter.
The first twenty minutes of The Iron Mask is taken up with exposition-heavy flashbacks, prologues, and catch-ups for every cog in the plot of this outlandish epic. We journey from Ancient China to Russia back to the Tower of London, where the real Tsar of Russia has been placed behind an iron mask, imprisoned with Jackie Chan’s Master and under the watchful eye of the Tower’s head guard (Schwarzenegger). The main thrust of the plot is about getting the real Tsar together with Fleming’s Johnathan Green in China in order for a big ol’ battle against evil, but storytelling wise, there’s no rhythm at all.
Full review at THN, originally published April 7th 2020.