The Storm Warriors


Reviewed by: sukting

December 03, 2009

Rating: three-point-five

How long
2 hours

Foreword
The highly anticipated sequel to ‘Fung Wan’ is finally here. It adapted 95% of Ma Wiing Shing’s comic and is directed by Pang brothers. How does it fare as this is Ekin and Fu Shing’s collaboration 11 years later by reprising their roles? Singapore was the first stop to hold its world first movie premiere on 30 Nov 2009. Many thanks to my colleague, Y.M. who invited me to watch it after winning the premiere tickets.

Story
An evil Japanese warlord, Jue Wu Shen (Yam Tak Wah) vows to conquer China. He drugs a big number of pugilists with the help of his son, Jue Xin. He imprisons them and tortures them. Jing Yun and Wu Ming are also among the prisoners. Zhu Huang manages to get the antidote to save them. Feng comes to rescue them but the three are still no match for him.

Wu Ming is seriously injured after using his ‘Million swords merging into one’ skill’. (All will be captivated by the grand scene when the swords are loosened from the ground to combine into one to try to pierce into Wu Shen’s body but he has a glass shield to protect him from danger.) The antidote has not cleared the poison but he has no choice but to fight.

Still, the rest are killed as they pin their hopes on them and only the three escape death with Chu Chu. Wu Ming needs a quiet spot to recover so he requests Zhu Huang to bring the two to seek help from Xie Huang.

Zhu Huang has not met his senior, Xie Huang for many years. Despite their pleading and not eating for days, he doesn’t come out to meet them. Meng comes to ask for his help and Feng is distracted by her presence. He has only associated her with letters and this is the first time he sees her. Xie Huang sighs and finally appears after throwing some pebbles at the two. They hold them in their palms.

All are stunned as he has lost his limbs. He has taken the path of evil a few years back as he is too eager to gain success. In the end, he loses his senses and kills the innocent. (This scene is similar to 300 in the setting.) He is afraid that he is unable to control himself in future and chops off his limbs. It will take ages to defeat Wu Shen if they practice through the righteous way but it will be fast to improve the prowess if someone takes the path of evil.

He asks the two to show their palms to him. The pebbles are crushed to dust in Jing Yun’s palm while the pebbles remain the same in Feng’s palm. Xie Huang decides that Feng is more suitable as he has better control as Jing Yun’s killer air might overcome his righteous air. Feng starts practicing with Xie Huang. Xie Huang dips him in the poison pool. Feng starts to fill the word ‘devil’ with his blood.
If the whole word is covered up, he will be totally in the veil relm. Thus, he requests Jing Yun to kill him if he really becomes a devil. Jing Yun waits outside and Chu Chu gives him a handkerchief that she has sewn his name on to him to show her gratitude for saving her. (It is more of showing her affection for him rather.) However, he turns her down and she has to take it back sadly.

Wu Shen feels honoured to spar with Wu Ming and tells Xin to seek out his whereabouts. He reminds Xin that the world can’t be ruled by 2 men. They have captured the emperor and plan to rule China. Meng has a quiet moment with Feng as it is rare for them to meet together.

Jing Yun is asked to go to Ling Yun temple as someone wants to meet him. He sees a man in an iron mask. Both spar as the man starts sinking darts at him. Jing Yun manages to get rid of them and finally sends a huge water wave towards the man. Just then, the mask cracks and Jing Yun manages to see his face. He is actually Wu Ming so Jing Yun hastily revert the stroke to the sideway to avoid hurting him.

Wu Ming is impressed with Jing Yun’s skills and decides to transfer his skills to him. His inner strength is only 10% left. Jing Yun initially declines. He saves the others not because he is as chivalrous as Feng but because he wants fame for himself. Wu Ming knows that he is a kind man and thus guides him along.

Xie Huang warns the others that Feng must not be disturbed during his training. Otherwise, he might either die or suffer from serious injuries. Wu Shen’s men come and they are losing out. Blame it on Meng’s incompetency that Feng’s training is disturbed due to her. She is injured and he holds her in his arms. He kills others brutally and leaves in haste. There is killing air in him now as his eyes change to white.

Meanwhile, Jing Yun and Wu Ming are together. Wu Ming is pleased that Jing Yun masters his skills and invents a new skill. The later supposedly serious scene sends laughter instead. Jing Yun acknowledges Wu Ming as his master and asks him to give a name to his new skill. Wu Ming uses his sword and writes a character on the cliff.

Jing Yun apologised as he has never seen this character before (neither do any of us who is watching it too.) It is a word that looks like move or also cloud but it has an additional stroke. Wu Ming replies that this is what he sees it to be. He can also call it as ba – conquer. Jing Yun agrees with him. (If I am Jing Yun, I will not choose it as it will remind him of his sad memories with Xiong Ba.)

They are also attacked. Jing Yun manages to fend them off with Wu Ming and Wu Ming entrusts him to take care of Feng. After Jing Yun leaves, blood flows down from his nose. Does that indicate that he dies in the end? It isn’t stated.

Xie Huang is puzzled that Feng is alright – maybe he is different from other normal men to survive. Jing Yun arrives and all have no clue where Feng might have been to except Meng. Jing Yun learns that Wu Shen and Xin have brought the emperor to the Heaven Cave. He wants to get the dragon bone that will rule China. It is buried in an ancient tomb but the emperor will not reveal where it is even though Wu Shen kills his eldest son and his empress.

Jing Yun arrives alone and has a fierce battle with Wu Shen. Wu Shen has the upper hand till the half-evil
Feng appears. They eventually discover the dragon bone’s whereabouts and they have another round there. Feng sometimes spars with Wu Shen and sometimes attacks JingYun. Sometimes, he has flashbacks of the past but sometimes the evil air causes him to hurt Jing Yun. Feng’s ‘Xue Yin’ sabre is destroyed in the process – can you accept this?

Jing Yun manages to find Wu Shen’s weakest spot due to Xie Huaang’s reminder. His strongest spot is also his weakest spot. They get rid of Wu Shen but Feng goes berserk, grabbing the dragon bone and getting away. Xin quickly gets away to give chase. The emperor announces his arrest as the bone indicates the livelihood of China. He and his family kneel to beg Jing Yun to get it back.

Meng manages to find Feng at his hometown. He is hiding at the forest, trying hard to subdue the evil force in him. He is about to straggle her to death but controls himself. I practically get impatient on how Meng elaborates on Feng remembering this spot that she has mentioned to him earlier.

She stays with him for a few days, noticing that he is calm when holding the bone. The emperor’s general arrives, wanting to take the bone back. Meng tries in vain to stall for a few more days. Both parties get into a struggle. Xin suddenly appears from nowhere. He seizes half of the bone, breaking it and gets away.

Feng becomes uncontrollable and Jing Yun arrives with Chu Chu. Both men have a showdown. Xie Huang has told JingYun to try to lead Feng to draw out his evil eye by trying to make him recall his past. He believes that the situation isn’t so bad as Feng has not turned completely evil. Feng is becoming more and more evil as his ‘Qi Lin’ arm is beginning to show and his neck shows Qi Lin veins.

Both stand at the cliff. Although they have not moved, their minds do as they picture themselves pitting ferociously. Jing Yun is seriously hurt as Feng has no recollection of the past. He draws his ‘Jue Shi’ sword and is about to kill Feng when he recalls his words. With Chu Chu begging for mercy, he lets him go. But Feng will just not stop. Chu Chu has thought that he has finally recognized them but he kills her.

Jing Yun regrets his poor treatment towards her and the two men fight again. He keeps losing and seeing Feng going to bring Meng with him down the cliff, he thrusts his sword to support them back while he falls down the cliff. Feng regains his senses and sees what happens. He yells bitterly – why has this happened and Meng consoles him. Sorry but this is the ending for the movie! You may have to wait for 5 years for its sequel as claimed by Pang brothers although they had the storyline.

Introduction on characters

1. Nie Feng – Cheng Ekin
He is a kindhearted man who is willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of others. Being mindful of others, he is always there to encourage others when they are down. Ekin maintains his standard as in Part 1. The scenes that he struggles to become good are well done although it reminds me how he acted as Shek Sang in TVB drama ‘Zu Mountain Sage 1991’.

2. Bu Jing Yun – Kwok Fu Shing
He is Feng’s senior who doesn’t reveal his feelings easily. He cares more for himself but through this crisis, he becomes righteous and combines with Feng to save the world. If Ekin is good, he is even better as he has more emotional scenes this time to fight against villains and also his junior. This shows that this twice golden horse award winner has truly found the method of acting.

3. Wu Ming – Ho Kar King
He is the greatest martial arts expert of the time and is Wu Shen’s biggest enemy. He puts all his hopes on Feng and Jing Yun to save the world as he is seriously injured. I can’t contain my excitement when I see Kar King on screen. He is the best hero spokesman that I have in mind. The Pang brothers had to choose him or Tak Wah to take up the role but Tak Wah was too busy.

Kar King is a perfect choice as he steals the glamour once he appears on screen. Indeed, he overshadows the rest with his charisma – each stroke and each skill is a delight to watch. His eyes portray wisdom and he also shows how generous Wu Ming is to share whatever he knows to Jing Yun.

4. Jue Wu Shen – Yam Tat Wah
He is an ambitious man who is from Japan and wants to rule the world. He trains his son to be the same as him. Ruthless and unfeeling, he kills the emperor’s close ones to force him to submit to him. It must be hard on Tak Wah as he has not starred in a mou hap drama for so long. He was thrilled that this would be his first Mou Hap movie.

5. Jue Xin – Tse Ting Fung
He is Wu Shen’s son who is equally vicious and unfeeling. He goes all out to kill his opponents. I am quite put off by Tse’s acting. It seems that he never improves all these years. His acting is as pretentious and boring as the movie ‘The Promise’.

6. Zhu Huang – Lam Suet
He is ugly but he has a heart of gold. Thanks to him, he saves the men from danger.

7. Xie Huang – Wong Tuck Bun
He is Zhu Huang’s senior. His name spells wickedness but in reality, he is a kind man. In order not to harm others, he chooses to cut himself off from the rest of the world. If not for them looking for him, he will not go out of retreat.

8. The Emperor – Tam Yiu Mun
He is foolish to trust the wrong person – his eunuch (by Chan Wing Chun). That is why he loses his empire and they are caught by Jue Wu Shen. But he is determined to protect it even though he needs to sacrifice his family as his whole country is at stake.

9. Chu Chu – Tang Yan
Her father gives the Qi Lin arm to Feng so he feels indebted to her. he brings her along and both reunite with Jing Yun. She begins to love him but he doesn’t accept her. A refreshing change from Shu Qi’s version in Storm Riders. Shu Qi looks terrible with tobacco stained teeth and foolish when she smiles too broadly. She is quite pretty but acting wise can still be better.

10. Di Er Meng – Choi Cheut Yin
She is the only daughter of Jian Huang – the king of swords. Thus the other two treat her as their own nieces. She has a birthmark on her face which is very distinctive so she chooses to wear a hood to cover it. She is said to be well trained to inherit the skills from her father but alas, Choi makes her to be a vase here.

She is terrible and keeps on getting defeated besides whining too much. Moreover, she can’t cry and looks so fake to act demure. Many nearly want to puke to see how she tries to get Feng to remember her. Her crying is among the worst that I have come across. This should not happen to a person who has acted a few more movies before this. I have never considered her as an actress and I don’t think she will ever become one if she still acts the same way after this movie.

Favourite character
Needless to say, he is Wu Ming! Who doesn’t as he goes the extra mile to save others when he hasn’t recovered? That is why a true swordsman should be. A close second will be a tie between wind and cloud.

Most hated character
Meng, I can’t wait to murder her with my own hands as she whines too much. The thought of her appearing in Fung Wan 3 sickens me. Can Pang brothers replace her with someone else?

Song
It is 风云义 (国语版) Ekin and Fu Shing. It was formerly sung by Fu Shing alone but Ekin joined later. When Fu Shing was asked if he was afraid that his glamour would be stolen, he replied that he wouldn’t have agreed to sing the duet if he was so particular. Ekin found their singing fine when blend together.

It is equal sharing between the two in the singing. Although quite acceptable, I still prefer the old songs ‘Fung Wan’ by Ekin and ‘Astonishing Change’ by Fu Shing. In the past, people had rumoured that both competed to sing the themesongs so the song writers had to come up with different songs for them.

Interesting facts

The movie took 4 months to shoot in Bangkok Thailand. It was a challenge for the two actors as only two hundred sentences were required throughout the film. The media loved to compare the two and exaggerated that they often quarreled. Both were puzzled as they knew each other for a long time since TVB drama ‘Genghis Khan’ when both were extras then. They never treated each other as idols and were only interested to make the movie a success.

Fu Shing was badly beaten by Ekin. His head was injured by him and Ekin was very remorseful over it. Fu Shing assured him that he was fine. He had not thought that he would get this role again to raise the Mou Hap standard to greater heights. 10 years ago, he was only required to bring out the comic aura. 10 years later, he had to inject humanity in the role. Now, Jing Yun’s hair is dyed brown and no longer blue. His

He kept using his arm and the director thought that he did not look strong enough. He kept raising dumbbells to produce the effect and he joked that he could see his veins clearly. An explosive scene injured his arm and he lost some blood due to a staple in the arm.

Tat Wah was supposedly to be in Fung Wan but he was too busy to shoot it then. He is usually approachable but he only had one complain. The armour was too heavy for him and Ting Fung. Both actors nearly suffocated from them and had to rest whenever it was too hot for them.

The part where Feng gets into the evil path – the make-up for him took 2 hours. They splashed glue on him and he thought it was like another layer of clothes. He felt uneasy whenever he sweated. The director told him that he had to cut down his weight when taking it up.

His diet process was painful as he could only drink water in the day besides exercising. He could only had his lunch after canoeing and jogging. Later, the director said that he was too large while Fu Shing was too skinny so they asked if he could slim further so that they looked closer.

He noticed that Fu Shing had changed a lot after 11 years. They were under a lot of pressure when filming Fung Wan so they hardly talked. Now, they finally had a better chance to work better. People would say that he deliberately wounded him in the past and caused a lot of misunderstanding but now they were able to iron out their differences and disregard untrue publicity.

Ekin was contented that he still had a market. Big movies often left him out. He was capable in shooting Mou Hap movies but directors might not approach him. However, they would never leave him out if it came to shooting comic movies.

Many complained that Choi was reduced to become a vase. (But I was genuinely relieved that her part was cut to a minimum as I could not take it.) Pang brothers explained that her role was quite limited in the comic so they did not add on to it. They knew that all the attention was on the guys. If they add too many loving scenes, they will suffer from more criticism.

The leads promoted the movie in Cheng Du. One Ekin fan cum reporter wept upon seeing him, describing how she had supported him all these years and asked how he managed to look youthful. Ekin was taken aback and could only stammered that he looked at matters positively. Fu Shing wasn't pleased when Yan wore high heels to make her look taller than him and he protested against this.

Ekin and Fu Shing came to promote it in Singapore on 30 Nov to officiate the first world movie screening. I got to see them in person and snapped a few photos. They looked as youthful as before as they plunged the swords into the promotion box together. They with the Pang brothers wrote the four words ‘ Fung Wan reappears’. All of us had to surrender our handphones and cameras before watching it to prevent infringing of copyrights. The 12 halls screened the movie at the same time as it was a big scale promotion.

Conclusion

Fans must be thrilled to see comic book scenes being brought to the big screen as the opening theme is played. Unlike lots of blood splashing that you will get to see in many movies, the people here turn to become small pieces of stones after being killed. Story wise, it is unoriginal. The dialogues are few as the focus is on the fighting.

Pang brothers did a good job although it had striking resemblance to their previous movies. The actors had done their best and it did bring out the essence from the comic. The 20 minute struggle between Feng and Jing Yun is eye-catching. Some viewers may complain that it is too long but I can accept it as it shows how hard to subdue Feng.

The actresses do not offer much help to the story development. They are a hindrance instead. They keep telling the actors to stop fighting but they will not listen to them! It is very torturing to see how they team up with their co-stars. Choi fights clumsily while Tang only needs to talk.

Wind and Cloud do not lose their glamour after so many years. Their comeback is a timely one. I must confess that I am more thrilled with Kar King’s comeback. Although his role is a supporting one, he upstages everyone whenever he exists. I hope he will be involved in Part 3. Please, Pang brothers, please don’t make us wait for too long this time.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5) (quite truthful to the manga)

On song :***1/2 (Scale of 5)


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