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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Storm Warriors
Ultimate Edition


Starring: Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Kenny Ho, Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi and Simon Yam
Cine Asia
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 July 2010

Having defeated the warlord who raised them Cloud and Wind face an even greater battle, this time against an invading Japanese warlord, Lord Godless, who not only wants to conquer China, but also to subjugate or destroy all of its martial artists. Unlike previous pretenders Lord Godless has the power to back up his claim and in their first confrontation Cloud and Wind lose. To prevent Lord Godless’s conquest of his homeland Wind contemplate the impossible, the only thing that can defeat this evil is a greater evil...

The Storm Warriors (2009 - 1 hr, 45 min, 52 sec) is a historical martial arts fantasy film produced and directed by the Pang brothers (The Eye). The film script was written by Wing-Shing Ma, an adaptation of his own manhua comic book series Fung Wan.

The original comic of Fung Wan was very popular, almost guaranteeing a fan based backlash against this film, as it could never be as deep or expansive as a comic series, even though the film was written by the original author this was never going to be the candy that everyone wants, that said it has much to commend and condemn it as a feature.

Wind and Cloud are once again played by Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok reprising the same roles they played in The Storm Riders (1998). Being the second film, and possibly the middle section of a trilogy, the film suffers from throwing the audience straight into the action. Their first battle against Lord Godless makes for a dramatic opening sequence, but unless you know what’s going on, or who the characters are, you’re instantly placed at a disadvantage.

In truth, the whole plot is a rather thin affair with much of it taken up with Wind seeking out a seer who can teach him the arts of the dark side, only to have to face off against his black clad nemesis and in doing so finding himself becoming as evil as the man he sought to destroy. Well, familiar script elements aside, what will sell this film to a western audience is the visual flair with which the movie has been made. This is as good as CGI gets at the moment. Certainly there will be times when you’re aware of the debt the Pang brothers owe to The Matrix (1999) and 300 (2007), but even these are coloured with a distinctly eastern hue. The film was the deserved winner of the Best Visual Effects Award at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards.

As well as starring Cheng and Kwok, the film also features Kenny Ho (Nameless) Nicholase Tse (Heart), Charlene Choi (Second Dream), Simon Yam (Lord Godless, the best villain since Vader) and Tak-bun Wong (Lord Wicked). The guys are all grungy faces and muscles, the ladies spotless, beautiful, but do little to contribute to the plot. The fight sequence choreography is impressive at times; add the hyper real colour pallet and visually this is a memorable film.

The film is presented in letterbox format with the options for either a Cantonese 2.0 or 5.1 audio tracks, the soundscape of the film is very important and in this respect the 5.1 track is far superior. The film has a full length commentary from Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. This guy never stops talking, barely pausing to breath, just as well as he has a mountain of useful information and insights to impart before the film finishes. Well worth a listen, when he’s not talking about himself.

The disc comes with a pretty good range of extras, though I did wish that they had joined a few of them up as watching them all was a bitty and frustrating experience. So, first up we jump into the ‘Making of’ which is split into seven subsections, The Characters (4 min, 57 sec), The Meeting of Cloud and Wind (3 min, 56 sec), Special Effects Production (1 min, 35 sec), The Unsung Heroes (4 min, 17 sec), Clouds Sword Style ‘Ba’ (3 min, 20 sec), Wind Turns into Evil (3 min, 07 sec), The Fight on the Cliff Top (2 min, 52 sec). Although it doesn’t specify, I’m thinking that due to the shortness of the features, and the fact that they all have the same little introduction, that these may have originally been available on the Internet. It’s not that they're bad, but there’s very little of any depth which can be said in a few minutes.

The next section takes a look at the film's special effects, with a whole bunch of small pieces, which kicks off with Montage (3 min, 38 sec), a look at two sequences in the film. Return of a Thousands Swords (2 min, 26 sec) takes a gander at the impressive opening sequence, this is followed by five short sequences showing how some of the scenes were constructed. Lastly are eight small interviews, apart for the first with the director, which runs at a little over ten minutes the remainder are between four and six minutes long. Although it looks like an impressive list, there’s only about forty minutes of material here, less if you take into account that you lose thirty seconds off each section as they share the same introduction.

So, the film is well acted and impressive on the eye, but for the uninitiated a tad confusing and lacking the depth of story which should have been available.


Charles Packer

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