The Storm Warrior 風雲II (2009) – Hong Kong [Review by Jerome]

A film that doesn’t live up to the original but has better cgi…

Review by Jerome: With the Hong Kong box office success of the Storm Riders (1998), it was a surprise to see that ten years later a sequel had been made. The Pang brothers assume that either the audience are familiar with the comics of the same name created by Ma Wing Shing and or the first film since much of the film is absent of dialogue and seems to have been rushed.

The plot is based on the Japanese Invasion arc of the comic book series. The Evil Japanese Warlord Lord Godless (Simon YAM) and his son Heart conspired to conquer China. They imprisoned a large number of martial arts and the Emperor (Patrick TAM) and tried to make them subjugate. Lord Godless was searching for the Heaven Cave, an ancient tomb, buried with the Royal family’s secret of the sovereign: “The Dragon Bone”. Trained by Nameless (Kenny HO) and Lord Wicked (Kenny WONG), respectively, Cloud (Aaron KWOK) and Wind (Ekin Cheng) quickly boosted up their martial arts skills.

Simon YAM’s Lord Godless is one badass character whose greed and ambition exceeds that of his son, Heart (Nicolas TSE) who would like to rule China alongside his father. Lord Godless has protective armour that renders him almost invincible against normal the attacks of the many martial heroes’ attacks. With this he was able to withstand Master Nameless’ strongest attack “Maan gim gwai jung” (10,000 swords return to the source) as shown at the beginning of the film.

It is not the first time that Simon YAM has played a wu-xia character. He has played Zhang Cuishan (Jeung Chui Saan) in the 1986 TVB adaption of The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre and he has also played the villainous Bat Lord in the TVB adaption of The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung. It is interesting to see Simon Yam, play the lead villain in a fantasy / wu xia film, although he can not compete with Lord Conquer played by Sonny Chiba in the first film.

Aaron KWOK’s portrayal of Cloud is more mature than the first film and this is displayed towards the last half of the film when showing concern for Wind’s descent into pure destructive evil. Cloud is also portrayed as more aggressive in nature as opposed to the calmness of Wind, which is why Wind was given the opportunity to follow Lord Wicked into boosting his powers using the “evil way”. Instead, Cloud trains in swordplay with Nameless and creates his own sword style to combat Godless.

Ekin CHENG’s portrayal of Wind isn’t as emotive as the first film. In fact, he has hardly any dialogue. It’s as if he is acting silent towards the majority of the film. I suppose in this way, his descent into evil is inexpressible in words.

Just like Charlene CHOI’s charcter Second Dream, Tiffany TANG’s character isn’t given much to do apart from a few lines here and there, which was disappointing.

TVB actor, Kenny WONG’S Lord Wicked was interesting but wasn’t given enough back story to engage the audience. His performance was pretty good though as the master who cut both arms off to prevent evil power from consuming him and fuelling his desire to kill.

Kenny WONG, a former Jackie Chan stunt team member, gets to show off his acting chops and swordplay skills as Nameless. It was particularly hilarious when he named Cloud’s new sword style the “Baa” swordplay.

The film employs lots of CGI and at times can be hard to concentrate what’s going on. It emphasizes too much on style rather than story which was film’s major letdown. Many viewers have complained about it’s similarity to 300.

Hopefully, the implied sequel from the literal cliff hanger ending will not take another 10 years to make and stay true to the comics. (Jerome 2010)

I rate it 7/10

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