Sunday, December 13, 2009

Storm Warriors (2009)

Storm Warriors is awesome and fail all in one. This is the first time I've felt that way about any movie.
It is also by far the loudest I've ever seen, and I've seen Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe.

SW is the sequel to 1998's Storm Riders. Based on the manhua by Ma Wing Shing, this time around, Wind and Cloud has to contend with Lord Godless, a powerful Japanese warlord that wants to take over China, and his son, Heart. To defeat him, both Cloud and Wind have to train and increase their martial arts skills; Wind taking the evil path, and Cloud taking the normal one. Wind becomes demonic, so it falls to Cloud to stop him before he does any more destruction.

From the trailer, you can pretty much guess that it's a CGI-and-fight fest. And with these kinds of movies, I'm not fussy. Storyline is important but not crucial, and character development and all that other crap can go take a hike; as the average moviegoer, what we want is, "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!"

This movie is the exception. For me, at any rate.

The fail in the movie comes from its treatment of certain characters, namely that of Nicholas Tse's. Tse plays Heart, evil Japanese son-of-a-warlord, who also has a few bad-ass scenes of his own, and in his last scene, well, like the Imperial soldiers he shares it with, we don't know what happened to him and them, because the movie pulled a Cyclops on us.

That's right, folks, no death scene. Only this time around, we don't get a gravestone, nor do we get bodies / remains for closure. We are left hanging, wondering what the bloody hell happened to those people, and how is it that Charlene Choi (who is always too annoying for her own good) is the only person from that scene to remain unscathed.

[Because seriously, at least Gillian Chung is pretty.]

The ending also sucks. I know every movie should be seen anew, no spoilers, no Wikipedia (old habits), no reading other reviews. But I would like to know in advance whether the movie I'll be watching is the first part of a larger story-arc, because with that was what Storm Warriors felt like in the end.

Cloud dies saving Wind and Charlene Choi. The latter person being the part of the equation also adds to my pissed-offness, but that's not the point.

Yes, people, Aaron Kwok dies. He. Friggin'. Falls. Off a cliff. At the end of the movie.

I understand that for a main character, no body means that he's probably not dead and will turn up in the sequel (if they decide to make another one) with amnesia or some crap of that sort, but in this type of movie, dying should be reserved for the middle of a movie, not at the end. It's effective as shock value, but it's highly unsatisfying.

Now that I've gotten all the crap from the movie aside, it's time to highlight the good parts:

The CGI is fan-bloody-tastic, very comic-bookish, and very 300, except more color. Cue 60-plus seconds of badassery 10-15 minutes into the movie, with Heart, Earth and Sky, and a whole ton of Immortals masked soldiers take on the other martial arts schools in China, with the baddies on the winning side, of course, and every other fight scene, really. In some instances they just stand there and throw chi / energies / [insert correct term here] at each other.

Doesn't lessen the cool factor, though. Plus, montages of innocent people dying.

Minor lousy things include the theme song, which kinda blows. It's awesome that they got both our leads to sing it, compared to the previous one where it's just Aaron Kwok, but I preferred the theme for the first movie. Overall score is lovely, though, and really went well with the fight scenes.

Female presence is pointless as usual, but for some reason, the need to provide love interests for these movies keeps coming up, even though they're annoying and are just there to be killed off. Except for Charlene Choi, but I digress. And since we're on-topic, where's Shu Qi? I didn't even know her character was in this film till I got on the Wiki, to check whether there were any end-credits scene that I missed. Just as well, though. Cho Cho was even more pointlessly annoying this time around. I guessed she was going to die, but her death was so abrupt I didn't see it coming. Props to the filmmakers for that.

6/10. Would've been 8/10 if it weren't for the ending and the X-Men 3 treatment.

Would've seen this movie a second time, too.

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