Beyond Hypothermia: Beyond Fire and Ice!


Year: 1996

Directed by Patrick Leung
Produced by Jung-il Choi, Johnnie To
Written by Roy Szeto
Cast: Jacklyn Wu,Sean La,Sang Woo Han, Jae-seok Han and Shirley Wong


A literal cold-blooded killer whose body temperature remains cold finds herself falling in love with a friendly noodle stand owner while her last job earns the ire of a vicious gangster when he starts hunting her down!

Beyond Hypothermia is a heck of a film. It goes beyond taking a tired story of a hit man falling in love with a simple gender role reversal.Instead, it’s a stylish treat that is worthy of your attention. Beyond Hypothermia isn’t some deep psychological character study that will enamor you but it’s deep enough to be more entertaining than the typical action film out there.

Much of the movie’s substance actually comes of the movie’s style. Beyond Hypothermia’s nameless protagonist(her real name eventually gets revealed) is the lens in which we view the world. She has the unique ability to maintain her body temperature at a lower rate than the average person so in a certain sense ”coldness” is innate to her. It doesn’t mean she will turn into someone like Mr. Freeze anytime soon. Beyond Hypothermia’s cinematography is build on the inherent coldness of its protagonist. The movie’s visuals put a greater focus on a darker shade of blue to give the film a certain ambiance. A reflection of the coldness the protagonist sees in the world. With this simple aesthetic, Beyond Hypothermia’s visuals take a more atmospheric route. Jacklyn Wu isn’t an imposing looking person at first glance, yet her solid performance gives her character a ”spartan” quality. She may be of the stoic nature. However, she has a more child-like and vulnerable demeanor beneath her cold, stoic exterior. It’s the romance of the film that helps exposes this softer side of her.

A romance I would have found lacking if it wasn’t for the metaphors presented in each of the lovers. Our stoic cold killer protagonist naturally seeks more warmth in her life since the body is naturally colder than the rest. This warmness she wants takes the form of a goodhearted noodle stand owner named Long Shek(played by Sean-Lau). It adds a layer of depth to their romance; without it, the romance would lose any sort of intrigue and become cliched fluff. Giving the romance almost in some ways, a very yin and yang mentality to it. The romance isn’t perfect though; I felt like the actors didn’t have the best chemistry, a hurdle the movie only escapes from due to the symbolism. The Long Shek character is a bit of out of place with the downbeat tone, but I suppose you needed someone to lift the mood a bit.

Not a total romantic drama, the Beyond Hypothermia takes a more intense overturn after the revenge seeker Yichin enters the foray. The clash of these two determined killers is the stunning climax. Beyond Hypothermia is briskly paced with only a 90 minute running time yet Yichin gets enough screen time to develop him beyond a stone-faced killer. Yichin’s personality and dilemma don’t turn him endearing but give him enough motivation to give his actions some semblance of heft. Beyond Hypothermia ends the way it needs to; it doesn’t try even to fool the audience with a possible happy ending. It’s a fatalistic romp, the first moments of the film are even a glimpse into the last moments of the movie.

Beyond Hypothermia lives up to its name. It is the emotional story of a young woman going beyond her paralyzing cold body by seeking warmth in her dauntless life. This emotional story and its themes are elevated by a stylish cinematography and a quite literal chilling atmosphere.



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