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30 November 2009

It’s inevitable that the first question which pops into one’s head when one hears about “The Storm Warriors” is- why now? Or rather, why only now? 11 years to be exact, coming after the tremendous success that was “The Storm Riders”.  

Well, a few months ago, we at movieXclusive posed this question to Ekin Cheng (who plays “Wind”) when he swung into town to officiate the 150-day countdown ceremony to the sequel, “The Storm Warriors”. For those who missed the article, he basically described how huge an undertaking a project of this nature was, which was why it has taken so long for part 2 to be made. 

This time, to further reiterate Ekin Cheng’s point is his co-star Aaron Kwok (who plays “Cloud”) and the film’s two directors, Oxide and Danny Pang (better known as the Pang brothers) who take over from “Infernal Affairs” director Andrew Lau. The quartet was in town to promote their new movie and yes it is unanimous that “The Storm Warriors” is an “11-years-in-the-making” enormous endeavour.  

“It’s not easy to find people willing to find people willing to invest in a movie of this nature. That’s why it has taken so long,” said Oxide Pang. “And we were really fortunate that Alvin Lam [from Universe Films] was brave enough to believe in this film.” But money was only one part of the challenge- as it subsequently took the Pang brothers three and a half years to make this film, one year for scripting, another for filming, and another one and half for the CGI.  

Nonetheless, the long wait had done both Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng good- for as they would tell you, they are much more mature actors this time round. “Back then, I was a singer trying to be an actor in the movie, but now I can safely say that I have approached this as a full-fledged actor,” said Aaron Kwok. Lest anyone forgets, he is the first to have ever won Best Actor at the Golden Horse Awards two years in a row- for his roles in “Divergence” and “After This Our Exile”.  

That experience he has accrued over the years has certainly done him well. “Although there is a very comic book feel and look to the film, the Pang brothers wanted the characters in the story to feel real and realistic to the audience so acting in this movie was definitely more challenging,” said Kwok. The challenge was in fact twofold- as Aaron Kwok acknowledged that the stunts in this film was probably the most physically demanding for him in his acting career.  

“I spent 9 months training for this role, especially growing the size of my biceps,” he said. The Pang brothers had felt that they needed Cloud’s biceps to look bigger in the film, so every day Kwok would spend time lifting weights on and off the set. Ekin Cheng, on the other hand, spent about six months to lose weight and buff up for his role. 

Lose weight you say? “When Universe’s big boss first met me to discuss my involvement in this, he told me that I was looking like “Fat Wind”. So he gave me a few months to basically shed weight and get myself in shape again,”  Ekin Cheng joked. It was necessary, he added, since he had to appear naked in one scene where his character goes over to the dark side and is possessed by evil forces. 

But as the Pang brothers said, if Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng wouldn’t do it, this movie would probably not have been made. “When Aaron and Ekin first stepped onto the set, I was surprised at how they still looked just as good and suave as when they made “The Storm Riders”, said Oxide Pang. “Really, you can’t find any other actors to replace Aaron and Ekin as Cloud and Wind.” 

So even though “The Storm Warriors” arrives 10 years late, fans can rest easily that Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng are back in good shape to reprise their iconic roles. As Aaron Kwok puts it: “It’s very rare in the film industry for an actor to be able to revisit a role that he/she has played ten years ago, and for that, I’m really glad.” For those of you who have waited faithfully all these years, “The Storm Warriors” descends in cinemas 10 Dec.  

The Storm Warriors opens 10 December 2009

Our earlier interview with Ekin Cheng

Report: Gabriel Chong | Photos: Richard Lim Jr
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