Trailer Analysis -- Storm Warriors

Oh, Brothers Pang, what hath thou wrought?

It was long rumored that their sequel to Andrew Lau Wai-Keung's 1998 film The Storm Riders would feature extensive cgi and blue screen technology, drawing comparison's to 300. But was it necessary to produce nothing but a simple rip-off?

I've long disliked Danny and Oxide Pang, whom (along with the Wachowskis) are the very definition of overrated familial directing-duos. Granted, the trailer above looks nice and clean enough. Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok are there, which us nerdy internet denizens would have complained about in 1999. Ten years later, these aging, middle-aged (or very near it) pop-stars turned actors are at least acceptable, if not downright appreciable in comparison to other, younger Hong Kong celebrities who pretend to be musician-actors that could have been casted. You can see a brief glimpse of Simon Yam, who plays a character named Lord Godless, according to the official site. Always welcome, I'm glad to see Yam along with Lam Suet and even Charlene Choi. The brief bit of the Cloud/Wind fight scene doesn't look bad, although I've long tired of the slow-motion/fast-motion filming that every single action movie has usee for the past decade.

I was mildly hopeful after seeing the first trailer, and then this one came along.


What's the point of watching a movie that practically advertises that it's a total rip-off?

The Andrew Lau film was fun because it was using the sort of special effects normally seen in Hollywood films in a distinctly Chinese genre and setting, while simultaneously updating the effects driven wuxia film on a level that it hadn't been since Tsui Hark's 1983 film, Zu: Warriors from Magic Mountain. But more importantly, the weird experimentation with editing and visual effects in the fight scenes, the cheesy use of Cantonese pop music, the bravura use of Sonny Chiba, and the distinctly wacky approach to cinematography shared by so many Hong Kong movies really made Storm Riders something to watch. Time has not been kind to its visual effects, and some of what Lau tried now seems a bit juvenile. But when it was released, it was not only a huge success at the local box office, but hailed by fans of Hong Kong cinema in the US as a great example of how non-fans were missing out.

This new trailer doesn't look inspired by Zach Snyder's film. Unless the trailer misleads, this film is trying to be Zach Snyder's film, right down to the color scheme of about eight similar tones. Did it ever occur to the Pang brothers that Snyder was emulating Frank Miller's style, and that they might want to try to do the same, only with Ma Wing Shing (and not Frank Miller)? The light, elegant, occasionally pastel look of Ma's macho fantasy wish-fulfillment was one of the more technically intriguing things about the "Storm Riders" comic books. It was one of the best things that was captured by Andrew Lau's movie.

Of course, this trailer could be misleading. There might be something worth seeing in The Storm Warriors that these trailers are not showing us. I'd like to believe that, but I don't. I honestly think that the only thing that Danny and Oxide Pang have made here is yet another bland wuxia movie desperately trying to appeal to the Western market. Apparently, that directive included ripping off 300. Color me unimpressed, and a little bit annoyed if this is the direction they really intend to go.

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