Good, evil and f/x duke it out in the Pang brothers' overblown sequel to the 1998 Hong Kong hit.

Good, evil and f/x duke it out in “Storm Warriors,” the Pang brothers’ epically overblown sequel to Andrew Lau’s 1998 Hong Kong hit “The Storm Riders.” Character, plot, the fate of China — all are secondary to the cosmic power-mongering of the titular square-jawed, strong-armed warriors, hurling elemental projectiles — Earth, Air, Fire and Water — about in decorative, destructive patterns. Retaining “Riders’” heroic leads and adding arch-villain Simon Yam, the Pangs have painted their comicbook takeoff in somber hues. This brooding saga, whose protracted ending literalizes the term “cliffhanger,” will frazzle all but hardcore wuxia fans.

Pic finds the good guys incapacitated by the powerful poison of Lord Godless (Yam). Once rescued, they undergo a crash course in advanced combat: Cloud (Aaron Kwok) develops a signature sword-fighting style of landscape-altering energy fields, while Wind (Ekin Cheng) communes with the dark side — a risky shortcut to mastery that could cost him his soul. Wind’s compromised morality, making him as liable to unleash his lethal skills on his erstwhile partner as on his country’s enemy, satisfyingly reconfigures the f/x battles as three-way showdowns but carries no psychological resonance.

Storm Warriors

Hong Kong

Production

A Universe Entertainment production in association with Sil-Metropole Organization, Chengtian Entertainment. (International sales: Universe Film Distribution, Hong Kong.) Produced by Oxide Pang, Danny Pang. Executive producers, Daniel Lam, Chiu Suet-ying. Directed by Oxide Pang, Danny Pang. Story, Ma Wing-shing.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Decha Srimantra; editor, Curran Pang, Danny Pang; music, Ronald Ng; production designer, Chung Man Yee; art director, Man Hung Lau. Reviewed at New York Asian Film Festival, July 1, 2010. Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Kenny Ho, Simon Yam, Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi, Tang Yan, Wong Tak-bun. (Cantonese dialogue)
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