The Pang Brothers have always been known for making style over substance. The Storm Warriors is another by the book wuxia film that caters more to the eye candy than actual plot. Lead characters spend a lot of time explaining what and why they’re learning specific martial arts skills, but there is zero explanation on more critical plot points. All I kept thinking about after I finished viewing this film was that I had just seen an Asian version of 300’s fight scenes. Assuming that the gist of the story hasn’t been lost in translation, the movie feels as if half of its scenes have been accidentally deleted.
So this films plot is based on the works of Ma Wing Shing and depict a fantastical China, where the heroes Wind, and Cloud, attempt to defeat evildoers and overcome attempts to undermine their unity. For the best part of the film’s two-hour running time, the screen is filled with big hair, vast, impressionistic CG landscapes and much heroic posing. Just as there is little excitement in the previous synopsis I just gave, there is little subtlety throughout the movie. The plot also involves Lord Godless & his evil henchman son Heart capturing the emperor and trying to take over China. Lord Nameless sends Wind, Cloud & Piggy King to Lord Wicked so they can learn how to fight better. Yup, Piggy King.
It isn’t all bad though. The physical fitness and prowess of the leads is at times truly stunning, and is amply matched by some seriously gorgeous effects work. It has quite good CGI, comparable to that of Hollywood standards. The photography & background are also quite astounding. It’s all very broad strokes stuff, with journeys of a thousands days and epics philosophies reduced to quickfire scene changes and one or two lines of dialogue.
The twin directors were not bad when they directed Bangkok Dangerous, although with Bangkok they have the Oscar winning Nicolas Cage to carry the movie. So, what happen to the dialogue? Well, expect very little conversation between all the characters. But, whenever these characters decided to break the silence, it’s usually the corny lines that can make you cringe. Adding to that is the inappropriate sound track, it actually distracts from the mood set by the scene, making the whole scene awkward. All in all, action junkies should be pleased, but its a forgettable affair that is barely worth your time. I hope the Pang Brothers can return to form as I am usually big fans of them. A mild recommendation.