May 7, 2010

[Movies] The Storm Riders (1998)

The Storm Riders (1998)As much as we all appreciate Western action movies now embracing martial arts more and more, there's nothing quite like watching "kung-fu movies" that hail from Hong Kong itself. What is it about the Hong Kong movie industry that produces just fun movies time and time again may be one of the greater mysteries of our times, but it remains to be something you can count on.

As much as the more recent Hong Kong action movies are pretty dazzling in terms of special effects and the like, revisiting the older movies even just ten years back present one with a startling difference in terms of how the movies were made. I guess technological advances have reshaped a lot of movie making, and not just in Hollywood.

Hong Kong movies are widely diverse and are of inconsistent quality. Some are totally amazing and mind-blowing in terms of their impact. Others leave you scratching your head and wondering if you missed the point of the story because of some cultural misunderstanding or something. Still, it's always an interesting adventure to take and the results tend to be favorable one way or another.

The Storm Riders is a comic book inspired Hong Kong action movie directed by famous director Andrew Lau.

HONG KONG - NOVEMBER 22:  (L-R) Hong Kong acto...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The evil Lord Conqueror (Sonny Chiba) receives a prophecy from the seer Mud Buddha (Wayne Lai) that if he finds two specific children, they will bring him much fortune and good luck. In addition, the rest of his fortune will be revealed, but only ten years hence. The Lord Conqueror complies and eventually his forces locate Whispering Wind (Ekin Cheng) and Striding Cloud (Aaron Kwok), who grow up under his care and become highly skilled warriors.

Now they're grown up, the Lord Conqueror sends them to locate Mud Buddha in order to reveal the second half of the prophecy. Eventually they do and it turns out that Wind and Cloud are fated to either join him in perpetuity as his vassals or will turn against him and destroy him. With this knowledge, the Lord Conqueror then devises a plan to neutralize them as a threat to his kingdom.

The movie was made at the tailend of the millennium when CGI special effects were just coming into their full development for the period. Thus movies like this one end up having very weird effects by today's standards as the movie makers were still determining just what they could do with the new technology. In the context of the plot of this movie, this made for some pretty fantastic moments and also some inadvertently comedic ones.

The plot is a bit of a challenge to follow given how quirky all the characters are and how some of their decisions don't quite make sense to the rest of from outside of Hong Kong. Still, once you fully immerse yourself into things and get a good feel for the nature of the world, you'll start to get the hang of it for sure.

It's definitely a fun movie with its fair share of creatively unique fight sequences, but it also is a bit shallow and lacks true depth in the long run. Many Hong Kong movies have managed to find away to convey their stories in a rather artistic or stylized manner. This movie was pretty much straightforward in trying to appeal to our baser natures and perhaps this is in recognition of its comic book roots.

The Storm Riders is a fun, campy Hong Kong action flick that is fun to revisit here and there. It gets 3 hilarious uses of CGI effects out of a possible 5.

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