The Storm Warriors on DVD

Monday, 12 July 2010 16:27

“The Storm Warriors” is the long-awaited sequel to “Storm Riders”, a Hong Kong cinema smash hit from 1998. Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng return as Cloud and Wind respectively, dashing master swordsmen with amazing offensive and defensive magical powers. In their path stands Lord Godless (Simon Yam), an evil, arrogant tyrant with seemingly invincible armour and his own crushing supernatural abilities.

The duo’s initial showdown with Godless sees them get soundly beaten, so they crawl away, lick their wounds and have to come up with another plan. Said plan turns out to be a visit to Lord Wicked, another one-man superpower who hides away in a cave. Wicked can train Wind to boost his powers by temporarily using what is effectively the dark side of the Force, whilst Cloud enhances his abilities elsewhere.

The Storm Warriors on DVDThe Pang Brothers’ (“Bangkok Dangerous”, “The Eye”) movie is a real showcase of how far Hong Kong cinema’s special effects work has come on in the last decade. “Storm Riders” was in itself quite impressive but its sequel borrows heavily from “300” to stay true to its comic book origins.

Every action scene (of which there are many!) is dripping in slow-mo, sweeping camera movements and masses of green-screen CGI scenery and effects.

The thrilling fight scenes normally take the form of magical duels, where the two sides stand apart from each other and take it in turns to hurl thousands of swirling swords, rocks, shards, water torrents or fireballs at each other, whilst the character on the receiving end has to try to block the attack using a shield spell or a deft swing of their massive sword to deflect it.

Sooner or later the two sides tire of spells (at least for a minute or two) and end up fighting each other up close and personal using their swords or fists.

There is normally a lot going on in the picture, and it is sometimes a little difficult to work out what is going on because of all of the particle effects, shaky camera work and people flying all over the place, but on the whole the action is exciting and vividly realised.

Unfortunately it is not all good news, though. The film is over-long and if anything has too much action for its own good. With only a few scenes of respite where the characters actually talk about anything other than obliterating each other, it is an exhausting experience. The directors would definitely have benefitted from a little more light and shade, and tonal variety to give the movie more balance.

What little plot there is in the film centres on Wind and Cloud’s missions to bring their skills up to a level comparable with those of their nemesis, Lord Godless; Wind’s brush with the side of evil presents a substantial problem to his partner and the forces of Good when disaster strikes, and he has to quit his training part-way through, potentially locking him into the ways of evil forever. What this boils down to is an excuse to get the two goodies fighting each other again. And why not when the battles are this brilliant to watch?!

The production values are excellent throughout, and the heavy use of CGI and sets rarely feels claustrophobic thanks to the stylised manner with which everything is shot. The orchestral soundtrack is of a high standard and makes a good companion to the visuals. The picture quality of the DVD version is very sharp.

The DVD and Blu-ray releases both have a fair set of special features, including seven short making-of featurettes, a couple of special effects featurettes and a number of effects transition sequences showing how the layers of effects were applied, eight interviews with the directors and cast, and lastly some trailers. The extras were plainly made for online and/or promotional purposes as well as for inclusion on the discs, but they do the job.

“The Storm Warriors” (2009) is out now on DVD (version reviewed) and Blu-ray, courtesy of Cine Asia. The running time of the main feature is 105 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’. The DVD retails for £17.99 and the Blu-ray disc is £24.99 or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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