The Storm Riders
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Sonny Chiba.
Directed by: Andrew Lau
Running Time: 128 mins.
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: Chinese, English, Simplified Chinese

Lord Conqueror wants to rule the Martial Arts world. It is foretold by the prophet Mud Buddha that two boys will be the key to his success and with them; he will be invincible for the first half of his life. Lord Conqueror sets out to find the boys based on the birth charts Mud Buddha had given him and raises them as his disciples. Their names are Wind and Cloud.

Wind grows up to be gentle and naïve (translated: wuss) while Cloud is silent and mysterious (translated: friggin' cool). With them by his side, Lord Conqueror presides over the Martial Arts world with an iron fist, waiting for the day to challenge the Sword Saint in order to claim himself the undisputed leader. However, being a tyrant is not without its cost as Wind and Cloud play an important role in deciding Lord Conqueror's fate in the second half of his life.

With Hong Kong movies not being known for realistic or even well-done special effects, this live-action version of the famous Chinese comic so exceeds expectations, that it can only be considered…Godly. Fluorescent green light shooting from a monk's pinky finger does not make for a good Dragon Spitting on Fairy technique (but a blue one may). Luckily, none of that is present here. This movie is simply gorgeous; eye-candy doesn't get better than this. The sets are magnificent and the special effects are top-notch, rivaling U.S. production values.

Sonny Chiba puts out an excellent performance as the power-hungry Lord Conqueror, while Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok play Wind and Cloud, respectively, to the best of their abilities (although that is not saying much in regards to Cheng). Kwok however, looks great in this movie…blue hair…leather pants…cape…no shirt...good stuff.

The comic version of The Storm Riders is very long and involved and thus the telling of this story within a two-hour movie means leaving out a lot of its history. The story jumps around in certain points without fully explaining the reasoning why certain things happen. Why does the Fire Kirin belong with Cloud? When did Wind learn to use a sword? In fact, when did either Wind or Cloud learn to use swords? These sub-plots and many more are never fully explained. You are forced to plainly accept that things are the way they are.

The Storm Riders should be considered a must-see by anyone who thinks or wants to think that he or she is a Hong Kong movie buff. It defines live-action animé and rightly so. Much like how The Matrix raised the bar for the Hollywood action genre, The Storm Riders raises the bar for Hong Kong Martial Arts fantasies. Aaron Kwok actually does a good job as Cloud, but honestly, how hard is it to play a quiet, mysterious guy who is a bad-ass martial artist?

How much is it worth? The Storm Riders is worth every penny of its $49.95 MSRP. Fortunately, you will not have to pay nearly that much.

Where to buy:

The Storm Riders

Sex and the City by Sidney Long (Updated 6-19-01, 2:23 PM PST)
This week they all get thier panties in a bunch.

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