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Storm Rider - Clash of Evils
Storm Rider - Clash of Evils
Chinese: 風雲決  
Year: 2008  
Director: Dante Lam Chiu-Yin  
  Mandarin
Voices:
Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Richie Ren, Cecilia Han Xue
  Cantonese
Voices:
Raymond Lam Fung, Hins Cheung King-Hin, Juno Mak Chun-Lung, Ti Lung, Regen Cheung Wai-Nga, Crystal Cheung Man-Ga, Winkie Lai Mei-Yin
  The Skinny:

Animated adapation of the Storm Riders comic is entertaining but alienating, and darn near incoherent if you're not a fan of the original work. Not really recommended for non-fans, unless they happen to like animated superheroes beating the crap out of each other with fireballs. Oddly, some people might enjoy just that.

   
Review
by Kozo:
If you can't wait for the live-action sequel to Storm Riders, you can satiate your Wind and Cloud lust with Storm Rider - Clash of Evils. Directed by Dante Lam (Beast Cops), this animated feature functions as almost a de-facto sequel to the 1998 Andrew Lau blockbuster. Clash of Evils basically starts where the live-action Storm Riders left off, with orphaned martial artists Wind and Cloud taking on Conquer, the man who murdered their parents in order to make them his disciples and secure his rule of the martial arts world.

Wind and Cloud defeat Conquer, but afterwards Wind is possessed by the Kylin Blood, which he obtained when he previously slew the Fire Kylin, a fierce fire beast. The blood makes him ultra-powerful, but it also pushes him towards the dark side. Wind becomes uncontrollable and a right pain, so Cloud must contain his former pal lest he go nuts and slaughter indiscriminately. After a duel, the two are separated. Restored to some semblance of sanity, Wind believes Cloud to be dead, and grieves by going on a drinking binge. Meanwhile, the very-much-alive Cloud suffers from amnesia, and forgets that he's part of a martial arts superhero tag team. He eventually settles into an idyllic life with a gang of children pickpockets. Is this the end of the Wind and Cloud partnership?

Not a chance. As the prophecy goes, both success and failure are gained through the combination of Wind and Cloud; the two have linked fates, and will bring both balance and chaos to the world of martial arts. Wind and Cloud are ultimately drawn back together, and soon have to contend with angry bastard Ao Jue, who hails from the extinct Sword Worship Villa. Ao Jue possesses the Kylin Sword and wants to use it to draw out the Kylin Blood from Wind and Cloud in order to become more powerful, thus aiding his hostile takeover of the martial arts world. As an unfortunate side effect, Ao Jue's machinations return Wind to his bestial Kylin-possessed state. Can Cloud stop Ao Jue, and will he have to put down his sworn brother, too?

If you saw Storm Riders, then Clash of Evils may hold some interest because it possesses the same fantastic elements that made the live action film so exciting and also bewildering. Creator Ma Wing-Shing has developed a complete and very involved mythology for Storm Riders that no big screen adaptation could easily do justice. That problem is apparent early in Clash of Evils; the first half of the film is tough going, introducing so many characters with competing agendas that it becomes confusing and alienating. Not helping much is the flat and sometimes stilted animation. While the CG effects are perfectly fine, the hand-drawn characters are of a lesser standard. Clash of Evils is impressive for a China-made animation, but the creators' limitations show. To be more blunt, this movie has nothing on its Japanese animated counterparts.

Also, Clash of Evils was obviously made for fans of the series, and does little to make itself accessible to the uninitiated. Case in point: the glossed-over appearances of numerous characters, not to mention the introduction to pivotal hero Nameless, who's a big muck-a-muck in Storm Riders lore. The character shows up and is immediately important, but the film doesn't explain why. Is it his calm demeanor? His kick-ass skills with the qin? Or is it the mustache? Without prior knowledge of Nameless' significance, many viewers may wonder why he's getting so much screentime. This won't be a problem for the film's target audience, but for the people whose only exposure to Storm Riders involves Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok, Nameless likely means nada.

Still, Clash of Evils manages to interest and entertain even if it doesn't succeed at being comprehensible. The first act of the film is alienating and confusing, and the second act - where Cloud and Wind find new love interests and muddle about their new lives - can drag. However, the third act brings manly posturing, big martial arts battles, and some measure of spectacle, and even without quality animation, the film finds some entertaining and even emotional content. The characters are never fully fleshed out, but when the martial arts superheroes start beating on each other, that may be all some audiences need to give Clash of Evils an easy thumbs-up. Part of enjoying any fantasy film is simply buying into the strange new world being presented. Taken on faith, even this minor glimpse of the Storm Riders world has the power to entertain. It would seriously help if you're a fan, though. (Kozo 2008)

   
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Asia Video (HK)
Widescreen
Mandarin and Cantonese Language Track
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
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image courtesy of Shanghai Media Group

   
   
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