Directed by Andrew Lau, starring Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Sonny Chiba, Kristy Yang, Michael Tse, Roy Cheung and Anthony Wong.
Lord Conquer, power-hungry leader of the Conquerer’s Clan, raises two boys called Wind and Cloud as his sons, after it is foretold they will bring him good fortune. Together with Conquer’s adopted son Frost, youngsters Wind and Cloud grow up to become powerful fighters under their Lord’s tutelage, bonding with each other and Conquer’s daughter Charity. But when the Lord instructs Charity to wed Wind, rather than Cloud, who is the man she actually loves, the stage is set for a confrontation that leads to Charity’s death at the hands of her father. Matters become much more dark and deadly after Wind and Cloud learn that Conquer killed their parents and now wants to murder them too.
THE STORM RIDERS, based on the comic book series by Ma Wing-shing, is a big Hong Kong action-fantasy wuxia movie full of characters with super-powered skills, prophesies, betrayals and legendary weapons with names like Blizzard Blade, Ultimate Sword, Fire Unicorn Sword and Unchallenged Sword.
Aaron Kwok, as Cloud, is good at pop-dramatic posturing, whether he’s moodily sitting on a rooftop with a billowing cape, standing under a waterfall as he angrily shouts at the sky, or screaming in heartbroken anguish as he detonates plumes of water in a lake. Meanwhile, Sonny Chiba, as the single-minded, driven Lord Conquer, is regal, ruthless and looks the consummate badass at all times.
There’s a not-too-convincing CGI cave dragon and a less-than-photorealistic special effects-laden duel on and around a giant, stone Buddha, but these moments are acceptable as they exist within the comic book world of this movie. Far more impressive elements include the splendid Sword Grave set and the many scenes showing the characters creating energy spheres, manipulating water, spinning at super-velocities and generating shock waves. The inclusion of surprising plot ideas, such as Cloud ripping off his arm so that he can use the blood as a weapon, and a doctor realising he must sever his own ‘Fire Beast Arm’ and transplant the limb onto Cloud’s body, help keep the movie exotic and fantastical.
Watch out for a bamboo forest fight, ‘Firey’ the Fire Monkey (which is never on fire, sadly) and a showdown between Lord Conquer and Sword Saint, where we get the chance to see Anthony Wong floating into action like a glowing Moses/Obi-Wan Kenobi, giving off an aquamarine light as he immobilises everyone in his path!