March 24, 2024

POLAR RESCUE Doesn't Deserve Donnie

2022 / 103 min
Review by Mr. Bonnie😾

Ever since starting this site and reviewing more Asian action films than I care to remember, I’ve become a pretty big fan of Donnie Yen. Not only is he a consummate modern era ass-kicker, he’s got the acting chops to back up the fighting skills. It’s probably a big reason he’s been tapped for quite a few American films of late (though Hollywood still hasn't had the balls to give him a lead role).

Conversely, 2022’s Polar Rescue is the first film - of those I’ve seen, anyway - that is totally devoid of Yen’s badassery. He actually gets his ass handed to him on a few occasions. As De, he’s simply a desperate dad trying to find his eight-year-old son, who’s gone missing in the snowy mountains during a storm. As such, he nails the role and is easily the best part of the film. In fact, Yen is the only reason it might - might - be worth watching at all.

The rest of Polar Rescue is undone by a messy narrative, clunky dialogue and a slew of irritating, unpleasant characters…beginning with De’s own son. The opening set-up firmly establishes the kid as an obnoxious little shit before conveniently disappearing. And it gets worse. When De and wife Xuan (Cecilia Han) go for help, the police almost immediately badger & berate him for wanting to be involved in the search. In fact, as the rescue effort grows increasingly perilous, damn near everyone blames De for endangering them in the first place. How dare he hold out hope that his boy is still alive!

When you make the effort to hide but no one seeks you.
Ridiculously, authorities and the media focus more on De’s shortcomings as a dad than the rescue itself. Even Xuan gets into the act, asking point blank if he ever loved his son at all, to which De doesn’t reply. Instead, we get flashbacks showing him as an indifferent father, thus making the movie’s lone sympathetic character someone not entirely likable. By this time, the story has grown repetitive and interminable, despite a late effort to liven things up with an avalanche.

A shame, really, because Yen’s performance is excellent, deftly conveying the frustration, determination and desperation any parent would feel in this situation…all without delivering a single body blow or roundhouse kick. Unfortunately, Polar Rescue repeatedly sabotages his efforts, resulting in a movie that isn’t worthy of such dedication.

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