'The Storm Warriors II' 風雲II
By James Topley, Special to The China PostWind, Cloud and a bunch of other pretty boys play silly buggers with magical powers and sharp, pointy blades in the newly released “The Storm Warriors II.”
December 11, 2009, 9:29 am TWN
The sequel is the latest addition to Wuxia graphic novels that have made it onto screen, featuring Wind (Aaron Kwok) and Cloud (Ekin Cheng), in their battle against Lord Godless (Simon Yam) — a powerful warrior and wannabe tyrannous ruler over China.
“Storm Warriors II” opens with Wind, Cloud and wise leader Nameless (Kenny Ho) captured by nemesis Lord Godless along with damsel-in-distress Chu Chu (Tang Yang), awaiting their fates when they seize upon an opportune moment to fight back. Breathtaking CGI action ensues with super slow-mo effects and a daring escape from the clutches of the enemy. The scene eventually typifies the entire movie, as each scene only seems to lead to another battle for Cloud and Wind.
Adapted from comic creator Ma Wing Shing's best-selling “Fung Wan,” directors Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang bring the new installment to life, in a visually stimulating graphical display.
Cloud is an ill-fated, unruly warrior with a warm heart. He advances his fighting ability and discovers new styles quickly through the expert training of Nameless, who also gives him his mighty powers. Wind, on the other hand, is willing to risk his own life to save Cloud, and takes the evil way to boost his powers quickly to defeat Lord Godless. The story leads the two heroes to Heaven Gate for the ultimate battle with Godless.
Despite the visual battle scenes, the dialogue definitely leaves a lot to be desired. At one point, Wind is concerned that evil may take control of him. His most memorable line in the whole film, “Please be decisive and kill me right away,” really sums things up.
Furthermore, there isn't much to say about the actors' performances; for as soon as the battles commence, any tension built up is discarded. The so called 'Storm' dissipates and it's just a lot of hot air. This might be due to the actors' lack of emotional expressiveness (given the script it was probably difficult to work in any human empathy).
In short, the film was definitely not made for an international audience: The English subtitles are flawed, and the people's names are somewhat ludicrous.
With little introduction to some scenes, it's often unclear why they are even fighting. The directors fail in this measure, while the audience is left drifting for almost the entire feature length. Starved of any depth, the plot just floats.
But the main problem is the blatant make-up and glam haircuts giving the heroes a feminine look. Even when Wind turns evil, he still gets the make-up treatment and ends up resembling rock star Marilyn Manson. It looks like they've stepped out a time machine from 1979 as heroes with hair extensions; it's all too fake looking.
The film is unbelievable. Cloud's sword looks like something out of the cartoon “He-Man.” A lot of explanations are needed for anyone not remotely familiar with the comic. Were the creators trying to stay true to the origin or were they just wanting to keep non-graphic novel readers in the dark?
Overall, the movie feels exceedingly overblown (like Cloud's hair). It is an under-scripted cacophony of play acting-martial arts and shallow plotted butcheries with extra ketchup on the side.