Storm Riders (1998)
Directed by: Wai Keung Lau
Starring: Ekin Cheng, Sonny Chiba, Aaron Kwok, Kristy Yang
Tagline: "The monkey is innocent. Do not punish it!"
Cast of characters:
- Lord Conquer (Sonny Chiba) - Master of the dramatic scowl and evil laugh - HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ruthless leader of a clan determined to take over the martial arts world.
- Jester (Lawrence Cheng) - Lord Conquer's advisor. Has a powder white face and strange clothes.
- Mud Buddha (Lai Yiu-Cheung) - Lord Conquer's fortune teller. Walks around with his eyes closed for some reason.
- Whispering Prince (Alex Fong) - Wind's Dad. Challenges Lord Conquer to a duel with bamboo.
- Striding Sky (Rongguang Yu) - Cloud's Dad. Makes 'Life's Best Sword'.
- Whispering Wind (Ekin Cheng) - The first of the children Lord Conquer is told to take in. Leans 'Wind Kicks'.
- Striding Cloud (Aaron Kwok) - Has cool blue tips and black hair. A moody loner. Skilled in 'Cloud Palms'.
- Frost (Michael Tse) - Looks after Wind when he was first rescued by Lord Conquer. Is naive. Learns 'Frost Fists'.
- Charity (Kristy Yeung) - Lord Conquer's daughter. Loves Wind & Cloud which causes trouble.
- Hawk & Bat - Lord Conquer's servants and Cloud's companions on his first mission.
- Son of 'Unchallenged City' Ruler - Looking for 'Fire Monkey'.
- Fire Monkey - Belongs to the Shaolin temple. Is reputed to lead people to Mud Buddha.
- Shaolin Monk (Roy Cheung) - A cool monk who turns up at opportune moments in the action and says 'Buddha be praised'.
- Pigtails - A young girl who is being looked after by Mud Buddha when Wind & Frost find him.
- Sword Saint (Anthony Wong) - Challenged by Lord Conquer to a duel. Must wait 10 years. Has a special sword.
- Dr Yu - A herbalist who decides to help Cloud later on. Has a "Fire Dragon" arm.
- Muse (Shu Qi) - The gawky daughter of the herbalist. She is funny though and I liked her better than Charity for some reason. She does not get nude in this movie.
- Fire Beast - Lives in the Cirrus Cave and stirs 'When the river reaches the Buddha's knees'.
Phew! This is one movie where you definitely need to get all the characters sorted out before you can understand the movie. It is based on a series of comics that was very popular in Hong Kong and you get the feeling they tried to cram it all into one movie. It has also inspired a TV series (unfortunately, it is not subtitled so I can't watch it.)
The story follows the rise and fall of Lord Conquer and how Wind and Cloud 'make him and break him' according to the prophecy. There is heaps of action in this movie as you would expect, which more than makes up for some of its shortcomings such as some of the performances being a bit annoying.
This is one of the first Hong Kong films I saw that had a large amount of CGI effects (courtesy of Centro.) I usually prefer live action effects, but here they are used to create a great sense of fantasy.
The performance that stands out amongst the large cast is that of Sony Chiba as Lord Conquer. Compared to supposed leads who stand around looking like bored, angsty hair models. Chiba towers above them and seems to be having a great time hamming it up. Also I liked the Shaolin Monk who says 'Buddha be praised', just because. Two of my other favourite characters are Muse and Jester as they provide great comic relief amongst the action.
I would recommend this movie to show to friends or family who haven't seen many Hong Kong movies as it is more accessible to a western audience. It also shows that Hong Kong productions can match Hollywood for special effects if they try.