You can consider this animated film as “Storm Riders 1.50” since it is a direct sequel to 1998’s “Storm Riders” and is a “fix” for fans before the live action sequel “Storm Warriors” (which I may review later). “Storm Rider: A Clash of Evils” (2008) begins where “Storm Riders” ended; when orphaned mystical martial artists Wind and Cloud take on Conquer, their teacher who murdered their parents and has evil designs to take over the world. This Chinese animated effort is inferior to Japanese anime, but fans of the “Storm Riders” comic books by Fung Wan and Ma Wing Shing should be delighted with this animated feature. A profound knowledge of its mythos and lore is a must for one to enjoy this movie; but hey, if you are into martial arts fights accompanied with fireballs and swordplay, you may still enjoy this film.
After they vanquish Conquer, Wind (Richie Ren) and Cloud (Nicholas Tse) find themselves at each other’s throat as Wind becomes possessed by the Kylin, fire demon that makes him really powerful and makes him lose control. Wind is on the verge of going to the dark side when the two become separated and the battle is stopped. Wind upon regaining consciousness, realizes what had happened and believes that Cloud is dead. But Cloud was merely found by a band of thieves led by a young woman called Ying. Will the two be reunited? Well, the two are two sides of the same coin, and fate always finds a way to bring the two back together to fight against the villain called Ao Jue who comes from the bloodline of the cursed sword worship villa. Ao possesses the Kylin sword which he intends to empower with the Kylin blood that flows in the veins of Cloud and Wind. Ao wants to take over the entire world, and may just doom it in the process when Wind goes to the dark side...
Chinese Wuxia, Asian Mysticism and martial arts action-fantasy is what you are in for with “Storm Rider: Clash of Evils”. In this world, those with the martial arts knowledge and skill are superhuman, with the ability to jump really high, make concussive gusts of wind and shatter stone walls. The film manages to interest, entertain and maybe even intrigue the viewer but the movie just made a mistake in assuming that whoever would be watching this film have read the comic books or have seen the first live-action movie. The screenplay ends up a little impenetrable and quite frankly real alienating and a tad confusing. Characterization is kept at a minimum, but it introduces so many supposed key elements and characters who all have their own schemes and plots to make the lives of our duo much more difficult. What ends up is a film where the viewer finds himself not invested in the later sequences and lets the action just wash all over him.
The animation goes from good to ok and then downright weak, that it made the experience that much more alienating. The CGI graphics were ok, but the traditional cell animation became a little choppy at times. The film does have a lot of action sequences going for it, but they lacked emotional content that they all ended up as nothing more than eye candy. Yes, this is a good effort for Chinese animation, and frankly it may be well be decent if I was to see it on a Saturday morning, but it just lacked the polished style and quality that I have gotten use to in Japanese animation.
The movie is definitely aimed for fans of the series as we see the introduction of certain characters that were relevant in the Storm Rider lore; it is great nostalgia for fans but for those who haven’t read up on its mythos, one wouldn’t care just who they were since the film never took its time in their development. It was disappointing to see the “nameless” character go about so underdeveloped; yet he was revealed as someone very important…but the film never does explain why. To fans of the comics, Nameless is a household name, but for those whose knowledge only comes from the previous movie, Nameless may just as well be Sergio Leone‘s “The man with no name“ and the woman called Kay may just as well be “Kay Jewelers. This is lazy storytelling if you ask me and I found myself expecting more of Dante Lam‘s direction.
Let’s see the first act of the film does fuel interest, the middle part slows down when Wind and Cloud begins to connect with their respective love interests. Then the final act goes into all out action but it was too little, too late to save the movie as I wasn’t invested in the movie. However, I can definitely see fans of the comics really appreciating this animated movie. There are a lot of manly posturing, a lot of fights with fireballs and “CHI” blasts being abundant. If you like superhuman fights, then you may just have a ball with “Clash of Evils”. This franchise does have the ability to entertain, as long as you don’t pay too much attention to its script, and it sure would make the film wonderful if you have great knowledge of the ‘Storm Rider” mythos.
Recommended only to Fans and a good rental to everybody else! [2 ½ +Stars]
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The film is a spinoff of the original story that revolves around Wind and Cloud. The residents of Sword-Worshipping Manor, which houses the best sword-smiths in the world, are brutally massacred after they are alleged to be plotting a rebellion against the government. The young master of the manor, Ngou Kuet, is the only survivor. Ngou Kuet vows to finish forging the "Kuet" Sword, a task passed down by generations of his family which has yet to be completed. Ngou Kuet attacks Tin Ha Wui and battles with Wind and Cloud to obtain the blood of the Fire Kirin which can unleash the power of the sword. As the blood of the Fire Kirin runs in Wind's veins, he becomes Ngou Kuet's primary target.