THE STORM RIDERS
The Storm Riders emerges as some epic of the genre. The plot is based on a Japanese manga and comes in at a mammoth 127 minutes (which may not be an extravagant length for a film but is marathon length when one considers the pace at which Hong Kong fantasy/action moves). With the scant attention usually paid to plot by these films, the sweeping canvas that The Storm Riders draws itself across immediately raises the level of expectation. Even condensed from the original multi-story epic, the Hong Kong comic-book Fung Wan (1989 ), which was published in twelve volumes in English translation, The Storm Riders contains enough plot to fuel another entire trilogy of Star Wars films for George Lucas. In all regards, The Storm Riders tries to be epic it has a budget far greater than most Wu Xia films, allowing the construction of huge-scale indoor and outdoor sets and entire villages and cities.
The Storm Riders also marks a point where Hong Kong cinema appeared to discover digital effects. Unlike many Western digital effects films where the effects are the end in themselves, here they are merely the tool for the furtherance of the otherwise dramatically intense action (notably an excellent battle with a fire dragon or a sequence where the camera conducts breathtaking sweeps around sword combatants on the head of a giant Buddha statue). There is all the usual enthralling fantastique stuntwork and fight sequences power blasts, flying sword combat, swordfights with bamboo stalks, a climactic fight with one warrior dancing across the heads of a roomful of people frozen in position and characters sweeping aside hundreds of arrows fired at them with one hand.
The Storm Riders also imports classical Japanese actor Sonny Chiba who gives a grandly theatrical performance as the lead villain. As Wind, Ekin Chang seems far too baby-faced and bland to be the superhero the film requires but Aaron Kwok, with blue-dyed black hair, plays to all the wonderfully pouty, brooding postures of the adolescent manga hero, which director Andrew Lau is more than happy to accommodate, posing him atop rooftops outlined against coloured storm clouds and the like.
Storm Warriors (2009) was a sequel made by the Pang Brothers, featuring return performances from Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng. The same comic-book had earlier been adapted to the screen as the tv series The Storm Riders (1988-90).
Andrew Laus other genre films include Ultimate Vampire (1991), the ghost story Ghost Lantern/Skinned Girl (1992), the Wu Xia A Man Called Hero (1999) and The Duel (2000), the superhero film The Avenging Fist/Legend of Tekken (2001), the alien invasion film The Wesleys Mysterious File (2002), the supernatural comedy Women from Mars (2002), the horror film The Park (2003) and the martial arts superhero film Legend of the Fist (2010). Laus greatest success however was the crime thriller Infernal Affairs (2002) and sequels.
Trailer here (no English subs):-
Full film available online here:-