Iron Mask Parent Guide
The plot is bizarre and largely coherent - and that's not the worst of it.
Parent Movie Review
At the dawn of the 18th century, English cartographer Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) sets out to map the Russian Far East, on orders of Peter the Great. But Peter’s Russia is a dangerous place and a small group of rebellious aristocrats soon depose him, getting him locked up in the Tower of London. (Why a Russian czar winds up in a British prison is never explained.) Incarcerated with Peter is the Dragon Master (Jackie Chan), whose daughter, Cheng Lan (Xingtong Yao) is the rightful heir to the secrets of a powerful Dragon back in China. As their stories intertwine, the men learn that they are going to have help each other if they wish to succeed in their individual quests.
Every now and then, a movie surprises you. It defies your low expectations and manages to be memorable, or at least diverting. This is not one of those times. Iron Mask may be one of the least competent displays of filmmaking I’ve ever seen. The most apparent problem is the dubbing. Much like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, it seems that the filmmakers didn’t bother hiring people who speak the same language, choosing instead to cast whoever they want and then dub as needed. The audio actually gets worse – not only is the dubbing distracting but the audio balance is hugely inconsistent. I had to have my speakers at maximum to hear the dialogue – and was then immediately deafened every time the movie cut to an action scene, which are all unnecessarily loud. Trying to understand this film without subtitles is an uphill battle that just isn’t worth the struggle.
The plot is bizarre and largely incoherent – beyond the bones of the synopsis, it’s something about tea made from a dragon’s eyelashes and a coup which saw Peter the First of Russia imprisoned in the Tower of London while “black magicians” abuse Chinese peasants? I think? Now, in fairness, this is a sequel and I have not seen the original. But this film spends at least 30 minutes explaining the previous film, and frankly, it’s still insane. Watching this is like sticking three different movies in a blender, turning it to maximum, and then shoving your head in there to see what’s happening.
What stung the most for me were the major-league actors who seemed to be here as little more than set decoration. Certainly Charles Dance has seen better roles, and even though this is significantly closer to his wheelhouse, even Arnold Schwarzenegger has seldom stooped so low. Tragically, this will be one of the last films to feature Rutger Hauer, which is hardly a fitting legacy for such a skilled actor. As far as funerals for respected actors go, this ranks somewhere around being dumped into the L.A. River in a burning oil drum.
On the plus side, The Mask rates a PG-13, and a fairly soft one at that. This film is milder than the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, so if your kids are old enough for that franchise, they’re old enough for this. Martial arts violence and drunken sailors are about as risqué as it gets. However, I don’t think your children are going to be any more impressed with the bargain-bin quality of this movie than I was. I’d say it was made for TV, but that seems unfair. Made for prison, maybe.Directed by Oleg Stepchenko. Starring Jason Flemyng, Xingtong Yao, and Jackie Chan. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release March 18, 2021. Updated March 18, 2021
Watch the trailer for Iron Mask
Rating & Content Info
Why is Iron Mask rated PG-13? Iron Mask is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of violence/action, and some suggestive elements.
Violence: There are frequent instances of martial arts violence, and occasional shootings and swordfights. Several individuals are electrocuted as well.
Sexual Content: A number of fully clothed prostitutes are seen around the London docks. A woman is seen dancing sensually.
Profanity: There is one use of scatological profanity and infrequent uses of mild curses.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters, especially sailors, are shown drinking heavily.
Page last updated March 18, 2021
Iron Mask Parents' Guide
You can learn more about the real life Peter the Great on these websites:
Wikipedia: Peter the Great
For more about the history of Russian mapmaking, check out this article.
Russian Geographical Society: The Masterpieces of Russian Cartography of the XVIIIth Century
Related home video titles:
If you’re looking for more historically-themed (but determinedly ahistorical content), the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is probably your best bet. Similar films with stronger Chinese influence include The Forbidden Kingdom(which also stars Jackie Chan) and the genuinely terrible Matt Damon vehicle, The Great Wall. A better choice would be Ne Zha, an animated film which explores ancient Chinese mythology while managing to tell a coherent story. This also has some strange costuming commonalities with The Fifth Element.