The Breaking Ice  – Movie Review and Summary

“The Breaking Ice” may lack what you’d expect from a love triangle, but you can appreciate each character’s humanity in its subtlety.

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Haofeng (Haoran Liu), Nana (Dongyu Zhou) and Xiao (Chuxiao Qu) at a bar

Plot Summary

In the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, you can find Nana giving tours on a regular basis, taking them to her friend Xiao’s family restaurant, day in and day out. However, one day, a tourist named Haofeng interrupts their life’s monotony.

Mind you, not because he is zany and lusts for life but because he has lived on autopilot and, perhaps, has gotten off the road his mother set out for him for the first time. So, while they try to liven him up, both eventually take note of how Haofeng lives and realize they’ve been hiding out in Haofeng too long.

Content Information

  • Dialog: Cursing
  • Violence: Nothing Notable
  • Sexual Content: Implied Nudity, Sexual Situations (Tame Sex Scene)
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking, Vomiting, Smoking

General Information


Anthony Chen  

Screenplay By

Anthony Chen  

Based On Work By


Date Released


How To Watch

In Theaters


Drama, Romance, Young Adult

Film Length

1 Hour 37 Minutes

Content Rating

Not Rated

Noted Characters and Cast


Dongyu Zhou


Chuxiao Qu


Haoran Liu

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Nana (Dongyu Zhou)

A former ice skater, now a tour guide, Nana is living life in limbo right now, spending her days on a tour bus and her nights drinking, partying, and hanging out with Xiao.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Us and Them.”

Xiao (Chuxiao Qu)

A cook who works in his aunt’s restaurant, Xiao wasn’t the best student growing up, and while not aimless, he wasn’t sure what to do with his life. So, this job with his aunt is a lifesaver and keeps him relatively busy.

Haofeng (Haoran Lu)

From the City, Haofeng has lived his life appeasing his mother and has been on autopilot since he was a child. He studied, got a job, works hard to keep his job, and now is on voluntary or involuntary vacation.


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The Bond Built Between The Leads

Initially, it is strange that Xiao and Nana would become friends with Haofeng. He is uptight and comes from money, and Nana and Xiao are two people just getting by. Nana had to give up on a dream and settled for doing tours to get by. Xiao? He wasn’t a good student, so working at his aunt’s restaurant saved him.

Yet, despite coming from different walks of life, there is a bond here. A strange one, as it seems Nana enjoys the proximity of Haofeng and maybe wants to seduce him or be seen as worthy in the eyes of a man like him? Then, for Xiao? With questioning his worth as a criminal on the run is worth 200,000 yuan, it seems Haofeng is a realization that, someone’s worth isn’t rooted in how much they do or could earn.

And to note, this film, while there could have been drama since Xiao likes Nana, that doesn’t happen. He doesn’t even try to exclude himself or Haofeng when he spends time with Nana. Mind you, it could be because he knows Nana isn’t going anywhere and that Haofeng has to leave eventually. Yet, even with that in play, they become friends, smoke together, drink together, and party together, and it seems Haofeng, while he shakes things up in the most subtle of ways, becomes a welcome part in the prolonged chapters of Nana and Xiao’s life.

On The Fence

While The Lack Of Drama Is Notable, It Mutes Any Type Of Hook This Could Have

Each lead character has a past. Nana hasn’t been home in three years, hides an injury that paused or ended her life before being a tour guide and is distant from her family. Xiao is on autopilot like Haofeng due to his academic abilities, and he doesn’t seem sure of his next move. Then, with Haofeng? It appears he has mental and potentially emotional issues, which are not something he can keep private, but for none of the three, do we dig into the wounds. We’re given just enough to know they have a past and are uncertain of their future.

But, even setting aside their personal drama, the film also avoids the romantic drama that could come about. As noted above, Xiao doesn’t get into any kind of competition with Haofeng, question why he isn’t enough for Nana or none of that. Yes, Nana definitely has something going on with both men, but she isn’t painted to be a villain of some kind. If anything, there is a subtle push, like most development in the movie, to see she is perhaps torn and has feelings complicated by living a public life while privately unsatisfied, which could be a universal issue for all characters.

At Certain Points, It Gets Overtly Artsy

With there not being a hook via drama, it seems like most films that try to avoid the common route films would take, it gets artsy. Now, this isn’t to say you are going to get a lot of sweeping landscapes with violins playing in the background, but you will see a lot of time spent on cinematography and taking in someone crying or even a scene where a bear approaches the group.

It doesn’t add much beyond how long the film is, but it doesn’t take away from the film either.

Good If You Like

  • Watching young adults who feel stuck in life, but aren’t lashing out at the world because of it.


If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Passages: if you want relationship drama

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The Breaking Ice – Movie Review


Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

In its pursuit of avoiding the drama of love, reciprocated or not, “The Breaking Ice” pushes you to remember what it looks like to be stuck, in need of human touch, and valued. For you can operate on autopilot and do what it takes to survive, but eventually, that won’t be enough, and if you don’t find a way to wake up and live again, you may find the only escape from the hamster wheel is to die.

  • The Bond Built Between The Leads - 83%
  • While The Lack Of Drama Is Notable, It Mutes Any Type Of Hook This Could Have - 74%
  • At Certain Points, It Gets Overtly Artsy - 73%


  • The Bond Built Between The Leads


  • At Certain Points, It Gets Overtly Artsy
  • While The Lack Of Drama Is Notable, It Mutes Any Type Of Hook This Could Have

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