The Storm Riders (Fung wan: Hung ba tin ha) Reviews
Beyond the spectacular visual effects and supurb fight coreography is, now brace yourself, an actual PLOT! Though, to an American audience the plot can get a little complicated at times by introducing new characters and not thoroughly explaining certain actions taken by the main characters, it is a masterpiece of the first order. The best way to describe the movie would be live-action Dragonball Z-like special effects meets an old-school martial arts beat-em-up/love/revenge/journey of self discovery/inevitability of destiny/downfall of the proud story told in a way in which most Western viewers can keep up.
Now for a short introduction into Chinese Cinema:
Chinese cinema, in general, is not so concerned with telling a story in a linear fashinon as it is trying to convey meaning and moral teachings through symbolism. Once this is realized and a permanent suspension of disbelief is accepted within the genre one can more easily comprehend the untellable tale these movies are trying to express. Asian cinema, if not taken from a "read between the lines" perspective makes very little sense.
Westerners must first try to understand the culture that spawned these films in order to begin to graps the higher meaning contained within them. Think of Lao Tzu's philosophy, Confucious' teachings, Chinese parables, the concept of Chi, the Tao, etc. Most Westerners consider these to be, for lack of a better word, weird. To someone who has been raised in a culture where such things are commonplace, however, another layer of understanding is revealed. To understand Chinese cinema first look to understand the lesson that is being taught in each character's actions and words, then apply the words and actions to the greater story...in other words...work the movie's scenes in a three-dimensional space. You have to think!
The first rule of Western cinema is to assume your audience is stupid. They are children who must be spoon fed every part of the story. Chinese don't care so much about that. They, as I said before, want to convey what can't be told in words. They want to express senses of duty, honor, courage, love, filial piety, and comaraderie through symbolism in action, dress, language, and setting. The story is merely the vehicle...like a vehicle that takes you to where you NEED to be. You could travel by car, bus, bicycle, covered wagon, etc. The route you take and the destination are all the same.
I hope this feeble introduction has, in some way, given you a fresh perspective into Chinese fillm. Give The Storm Riders, Once Upon A Time In China, and other Chinese films a try. Better yet, make a Chinese friend and have him/her watch these films with you and explain the intricacies to you.