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20 July 2009 | 2100 HRS GV Vivo

It’s been an 11-year wait for fans of “The Storm Raiders” but that wait is about to be over- in 150 days to be exact. Come 17 December, the sequel to the 1998 comic book adaptation will open in cinemas islandwide. And to further stoke your appetite for some “Wind” and “Cloud” action, the man behind the “Wind” swung into town to officiate the countdown to the opening of “The Storm Warriors”.

Unveiling the replicas of the two famous swords used by “Wind” and “Cloud” respectively, Hong Kong actor Ekin Cheng unleashed a fever wave of anticipation amongst many fans who had gathered at the GV Vivocity foyer to witness this event. But the excitement actually began much earlier for Ekin Cheng when he was told that he would finally get the chance to reprise what is arguably one of the most successful roles of his career.

“Right after shooting “The Storm Raiders” back in 1998, I was already excited to shoot a second movie. But five years later, we still could not find the money to do it so the chance of doing a sequel became slimmer and slimmer,” said Ekin Cheng. “Naturally, I was very excited when the producers came to me in 2008 and said yes we’re going ahead to do part two.”

Despite the hiatus, Ekin Cheng reassures fans that the character of “Wind” continues to be faithful to the original film- and also true to the spirit of the comic book. But what’s different, he said, is that this time round, “Cloud” is the one who finds himself having to save his fellow discipline, “Wind”. While much of the plot details of “The Storm Warriors” remain under wraps, Ekin Cheng revealed that “Wind” does turn to the dark side in a desperate attempt to defeat their common enemy, Lord Godless.

The sequel sees Ekin Cheng joined by a fresh new supporting cast including Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi and Simon Yam; but one familiar face he was glad to share the screen with again was his co-star Aaron Kwok, who reprises his role as “Cloud”.

“I think we really got to know each other much better while filming this movie in Thailand,” Ekin Cheng said. “We were staying in the same hotel, and having meals together, so we actually spent a great deal more time interacting with each other. And I think audiences will realise that there is a lot more camaraderie between us when they see us on screen too.”

Besides this reunion with Aaron Kwok, fans of the actor will also be glad to know that Ekin Cheng will be reprising another similarly memorable on-screen pairing from the late 1990s. Indeed, Ekin Cheng will once again team up with his “Young and Dangerous” co-star Jordan Chan to film a triad movie that he describes as a dark comedy quite different in style and mood from the Chan Ho-Nam movies he is wildly famous for.

To comic book fans, it is no secret that Ekin Cheng’s most famous roles- both in “Young and Dangerous” and “The Storm Raiders”- hailed from the world of comics. The actor himself also readily professes his liking for playing comic book characters.

“I’ve always loved making movies adapted from comic books, but of course these few years, the movies I’ve been making have mostly been very realistic in nature. Not that I don’t like them, but given a choice, I would still choose to act in comic book-based films,” he said.

But Ekin Cheng is also very candid to admit that it is getting more and more difficult to film such movies in Hong Kong. In fact, he calls it “a miracle” that “The Storm Warriors” actually got the go-ahead- and after so many years no less. His hope is that audiences will catch it not once, but several times, so it can be an even bigger hit than its predecessor at the box office and perhaps revive the market for comic book adaptations.

Going by the ecstatic reaction from fans gathered there to catch a glimpse of their real-life comic book hero, it’s a pretty good bet “The Storm Warriors” will enjoy the box-office success Ekin Cheng is crossing his fingers for.

The Storm Warriors opens 17 December 2009

Interview: Gabriel Chong | Video: Richard Lim Jr | Photos: Linus Tee
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