A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Iron Mask is an action-adventure sequel to The Forbidden Kingdom, set in a fictional early 1700s and starring Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). Violence is frequent but is heavily choreographed and unrealistic, with very little blood. But weapons are used, including swords, knives, and guns. There is also a dragon that provides some of the movie's more perilous moments. Almost all of its promotional material features Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator) and Jackie Chan (Rush Hour), despite the fact that they appear in only minor roles. However, the pair's scenes do provide the movie's more comedic moments. Occasional profanity includes "s--t" and "bastard." Characters also drink alcohol, but never to excess. The movie's alternative titles are Journey to China: The Mystery of Iron Mask and Viy 2.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Set in the early 1700s, THE IRON MASK finds British cartographer Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) tasked with mapping the China-Russia border. Joining him on his mission is Chen (Xingtong Yao), who initially must masquerade as male. As part of his mission, Green must also reveal the true identity of Russian monarch Peter the Great (Yuri Kolokolnikov) -- who is mistakenly imprisoned and forced to wear an iron mask -- so that he can return home and be united with his true love.
Is it any good?
It is a confusing mess of a movie, with an overcomplicated story and distractingly bad CGI. The number of scenes in which actors are dubbed when the dialogue is not in their native language is also jarring. The first half of the movie features both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan. But their storylines quickly give way to those of Flemyng's Green and Yao's Chen, as the latter reveals herself as a princess in hiding who wants to return to her homeland and overthrow an oppressive regime. It makes for an awkward, clunking transition.
The characters of Peter the Great and Miss Dudley -- played by Russian actors Kolokolnikov and Anna Churina, respectively -- also feel bolted on for an audience that broke Russian domestic box office records with The Iron Mask's prequel, The Forbidden Kingdom. Who the characters are, where they are supposed to be from, and their motivations are all poorly explained throughout. Forgettable bad guys are introduced and then defeated, and mystical creatures seem to appear mainly to liven up the action as the movie becomes increasingly tedious and difficult to follow.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Iron Mask. Did it feel realistic? How was it used for comedic effect? Did this influence how you felt about it? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How are women portrayed in the movie? Why must Chen disguise herself as male? How can gender stereotypes impact kids' development?
Peter the Great was a real Russian monarch, but he was never imprisoned in a London dungeon. Discuss how the movie uses historical figures -- Peter the Great -- but changes the circumstances for entertainment. Why is it important to recognize the difference between fact and fiction?
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2020
- Cast: Jason Flemyng, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan
- Director: Oleg Stepchenko
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 10, 2020
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