The Storm Warriors 風雲II – A pale imitation of 300

The Storm Warriors 風雲II, the Pang Brothers’s sequel to 1998’s The Storm Riders, opened in theatres on 10 December in Hong Kong. The sequel is adapted from the second major story arc of the comic and follows the Lord Godless’s attempt to crown himself emperor of China. Practicing a school of martial arts that makes him invulnerable, Lord Godless defeats the land’s number one swordsman Nameless. The task of saving the land is left to Wind and Cloud, but they need to learn new techniques to have any chance at defeating Lord Godless. Cloud successfully learns a new sword technique under the guidance of Nameless but Wind decides to pursue a more dangerous path – to delve into the dark powers to raise his skills that leads to a tragic end.

As usual with movies adapted from martial arts comics and novels, the plot is way too convoluted to make any normal sense when condensed into a feature length film and The Storm Warrior suffers the same fate. I am not sure a moviegoer who isn’t a reader of the comic would understand the plot.

The acting is pretty much non existent as well …. but anyway with the exception of Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng, the rest don’t have that much to do anyway. Kwok and Cheng are ok  and arguably look better now in the roles than they did a decade ago. The script is god- awful and everyone spews trite dialogue. Even the usually reliable Lam Suet appears flat in this movie. The final scene / battle between Wind and Cloud felt interminably long.

The 1998 film broke new technical grounds in terms of its use of computer effects a decade ago, and this sequel intends to be equally groundbreaking. The key word here is “intends”. Anyone who has seen Zack Synder’s 300 will immediately recognize the similarities in the opening scenes in terms of production design, color schemes and use of digital effects. The overall impact wasn’t one of awe, but rather disappointment. Technically, the film looks decent enough, but not jaw dropping because we have seen these effects before. My complaint is that the scenes feel “stolen” from 300. An example would be the scene where Lord Godless is heading to the royal tombs. He sits on a throne with wheels and uses slaves to drag it along the path. The scene reminded me of Xerxes entrance in 300.

Overall, not recommended for mainstream viewers. Only fans of the comic will be interested and I think most will be disappointed.


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