Genre: Action/Comics/Martial Arts
Director: Oxide Pang and Danny Pang
Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi, Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Tang Yan, Kenny Ho, Anson Leung, Byron Pang, Patrick Tam
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Scorpio East Pictures, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures and Golden Village
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.thestormwarriors.com
Day: 10 December 2009
Japanese evil warlord Lord Godless desired to conquer China. He imprisoned a large
number of martial artists and tried to make them subjugate. Among the prisoners were
Cloud and the martial arts elder statesman Nameless. Wind came to the rescue. The trio
was badly wounded by Lord Godless’s evil martial arts attack. Chu Chu was also knocked
out when she blocked Cloud from Lord Godless’s strike. The remaining martial artists
sacrificed their lives to save the trio, in the hope that the trio would beat Lord Godless one
day and save the country.
Chu Chu was badly wounded and stayed unconscious. Cloud was filled with remorse and
vowed to take revenge. Wind chose to take the evil way to quickly boost up his martial arts
skills, so that he could protect the people. During his training, he met the girl who hanged
his life, Dream. Meanwhile, the troop of Lord Godless came to attack. Wind’s training was
interrupted when he tried to save Dream from Lord Godless’s assault. After some killings,
Wind ran away and disappeared…
Lord Godless took The Emperor in captivity and stationed his troops in Heaven Cave.
Cloud arrived alone and started a combat with Lord Godless. Lord Godless had the upper
hand. In the meantime, the half-evil Wind appeared and joined the battle. During the fight,
they inadvertently discovered the secret of the sovereign. The real intention of Lord
Godless’s invasion was related to an ancient tomb, a forbidden ground buried with the
Royal family’s secret. The truth was finally revealed. At last, how would the battle end?
Who would eventually rule over the country?
Fung Wan (The Storm Warriors) is one of the iconic Wuxia Manhua series from Hong Kong and the first few story arcs contains memorable moments in the Manhua history. Storm Warriors was rather ambitious in it’s rather faithful coverage of the source material. The highlight would obvious that it gave fans the pleasure of seeing their favorite Manhua moment devotedly translated onto a live action piece. It might even garner new fans with the amazing stuff that are dream up from the original material. However, the ambition and faithfulness could prove to be a double edge sword as it affects The Storm Warriors story telling process.
In order to cover the wide range of material presented, the story felt like it had been overly truncated. Characters like Nameless and Second Dream who were considerately introduced in the comic series received no such treatment here. They just popped out abruptly without much introduction and the filmmakers made a board assumption that the viewers are well verses with their respective backgrounds and ties in the comic’s realm. It should be noted that these characters were not even mention in the first movie and even if you did your research by watching the first one, you might still end up wondering about their importance in the Fung Wan mythos. It’s a pity that in order to cover the wide range of events, the character developments for such important characters were overlooked and rushed out.
There are far too many other things that were not explained to new comers to this Fung Wan story arc. The film couldn’t properly cover aspects such as Wind learning an evil skill to improve his prowess in martial arts and the treasure that could be used to dominate China. It basically rushed from one milestone to another, making sure that they covered as many fan favorite moments possible. As a story telling process, it felt forced and lacking in many ways as many events and characters didn’t receive a full development treatment.
Besides that, another weakness in The Storm Warriors would be the casting of the villains. When Sonny Chiba appeared as Xiong Ba (the main villain) in the first installment, there a sense of charismatic aura about him that made him feels right at home with the character that he is portraying. This is something that Simon Yam lacks in his portrayal as Lord Godless. As talented as he is in many other acting roles, he simply pale in comparison to Sonny Chiba while trying to convince audience that he is a power hungry despot. It doesn’t help that Simon Yam and Nicholas Tze are both given very little material to make their respective roles more menacing and believable.
The two weaknesses aside, The Storm Warriors did well in translating those iconic moments from the comics. Even in it’s episodic moments, the gem moments in the manhua were drawn out onto the big screen. Moments like how Wind and Cloud were tested to see who was more suitable to pick up the evil martial arts skill and the clash between them look spectacular. For fanboys, to be able to watch those favorite moments from the pulp form on the big screen felt like a dream comes true.
Special effects that were used to out the essence of the Wuxia Manhua Kungfu needs a special mention here. It didn’t feel that much like an outright copy from the "300" visual effects. In a way, the special effect team managed to modify the same method of CGI and made it a distinctive piece of artwork that faithfully readapt those imaginative and beautiful martial arts sequences from the Manhua. It was really a treat to watch the 'Cloud Palm Stance' and the Blizzard Sabre in full blown action. The finish special effects of Wind in a demonic state look so much better as compared to what was shown in the 15 mins preview.
Let’s just put it this way, for better or worse, every fight scenes here are constructed like a beautiful Manhua artwork and this movie is filled with them. It might detract from the story telling aspects but it’s also a blast to see how they are translated on the screen. Fans will most likely like how those memorable scenes are recreated and The Storm Warriors might inspire new fans to pick up the comic books.
(A faithful and ambitious translation of an iconic manhua series … marred by it’s excessive truncation)
Review by Richard Lim Jr