Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Max Pang: The Storm Warriors

It's a lot less confusing than I thought it would be.  Let me explain, won't you?  Netflix features a film called Wind & Cloud: Storm Riders.  My friends and I watched it years back and it confused the hell out of us.  Why?  It features a nearly-identical cast battling each other in random action scenes with a plot that almost never made any sense.  We eventually figured out why- it was an Edit of a TV show.  Imagine if you took 24 and cut an entire season into 90 minutes and you have roughly an idea of this 'film's' problems.  So, naturally, I was a bit hesitant when I decided to do The Storm Warriors, a 2009 Wind & Cloud film.  It does have an up-side: The Pang Brothers.  I'm not always their biggest fans, but they make quality cinema.  Here's the thing about this movie- it's not related to the show.  Thank f'ing God!  Instead, it's the sequel to a 1998 film about the same characters.  Of course, it's also NOT a sequel to that film so...whaaaaa?!?  Yeah, it's best not to think about the conflicting answers to what this film really is.  The short version: Chinese kung- fu = super powers.  Throw in some melodrama, a bunch of characters and a fantasy plot & you have this movie in a nutshell.  To find out more about this Pang Brothers film, read on...
The film begins with a wall of text.  Always a good start.

Basically, a guy has taken over China and only a small contingent of warriors can stop him.  Unfortunately, they've all been captured.
This guy is the man behind the unstoppable army.  His secret- he's invincible (in his armor).  Invincible Armor- sounds familiar?

Nobody aim for his face, by the way.
He's so bad-ass that he blocks hundreds of swords being shot at him and can even say this line with a straight face.  You're stone-cold!
The titular heroes- Wind and Cloud- go off to train separately for the final showdown.  One goes to train with a poisoned Master, while the other trains in 'the evil way.'  No, they don't explain what that actually means.
When the collection of random supporting characters get in trouble, Wind leaves his training early, coming out of black goo that would make Venom jealous.  He kicks some ass.
The villain goes after 'the heart of China' which is...a spine.  I don't get it, but whatever.  Both heroes do battle with him- never attacking the face- but finally defeat him.

Oddly, this doesn't End the film.  Weird.
Wind, you see, is now evil.  Who can stop him?  Given that most of the heroes are dead, one trainer has been poisoned and the other cut his own arms off (long story), it's up to Cloud.
 A big, dramatic, CG-filled battle ensues!  No complaints.  However...
...the film ends on an open and really-depressing note.  It's not conclusive and it's not fun.  That' odd call.  The End. not bad.  There is a lot of action here and a lot of good CG work.  I still prefer practical effects, but it's hard to picture doing a lot of this stuff without computers.  To be fair, there is a lot of actual fighting among the super-powered stuff and CG flourishes.  It's a bit like the Godzilla Millennium series and how they used CG to enhance the suit/miniature work.  I would say that this movie is a bit dense at times, even while also being shallow.  I don't particularly like how they skip over the beginning of the story- everything going to hell- but I guess it makes the nearly 2-hour film manageable.  It is odd to have such a historically-presented tale and only feature these made up guys.  I particularly like how minor the role of THE EMPEROR OF CHINA has in this film.  Clearly he should get the same amount of screen-time as Unexplained Zombie Guy.  If you like these kinds of movies, this film definitely delivers.  Hell, you're probably used to the weird, tonal shifts in stories like this.  If you're not a fan, this is probably a mixed-bag for you.  The action and effects are good, but you may not care about the story.  What do you think Unexplained Zombie Guy?
Next up, a Jean Rollin film that's anything but interesting.  If anything, the odd back-story supersedes the picture.  Stay tuned... 


  1. Not surprised that this one's at least entertaining, as even the other one was pretty fun as far as the action went. Confusing as all heck (for the reasons you outlined...seriously, who takes an entire TV season/series and just chops it together into a film?), but fun and with some good action.

    And remember how it had so many different kinds of film used, jumping back and forth between normal TV camera, soap opera camera, and apparently someone's handheld camcorder? That was strange.