S Storm: The sequel-not-really-a-sequel to the unimpressive Z Storm
The sequel-not-really-a-sequel to the unimpressive Z Storm. Director David Lam’s S Storm finds returning lead Louis Koo doing more Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) things, meaning that he steadfastly battles corruption without taking a break for nookie. Both Storm movies resemble RTHK’s ICAC Investigators in that they offer little complexity beyond “ICAC is good” and “law breakers are bad.”. This is not postmodern filmmaking that questions those in power. This is rah-rah propaganda about how ICAC officers are awesome. And will stay awesome even when they don’t have to be awesome anymore.
One character, a former ICAC inspector who now works in the public sector. Even compares being in the ICAC to a devout faith. S Storm (Doi Chong Tham Nhung 2) offers no Christ imagery, though perhaps Louis Koo’s dapper suits and preternatural calm tells you who should be worshipped around here. While the rank and file – regular cops and white collar wage slaves – complain or perhaps do worse. The ICAC is a collection of incredibly good eggs and you simply must accept it.
As such, S Storm is an expectedly hokey experience. The story jumps right into corruption-battling action with Senior ICAC Inspector William Luk (Koo) and crew investigating the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. However, a corrupt Jockey Club employee (Terence Yin) is killed by Taiwanese hitman Song (Vic Chou), meaning this is now a corruption and murder case. That brings in the cops, led by Inspector Lau Po-Keung (Julian Cheung), who’s saddled with a difficult lot. Besides being disrespected by his subordinates, Lau has issues with his estranged sister Ebby (Dada Chen).
In one of the film’s larger contrivances, Ebby finds a connection to Song, which naturally aids the investigation at some point. While Luk and Lau size each other up and occasionally banter. It becomes apparent that there’s a bigger bad at large called “Teacher”, who fixes football matches with the help of corrupt Hong Kong Jockey Club employees. Will Luk and Lau resolve their differences and take down Teacher? And can a movie possibly get more predictable than S Storm?
There are multiple bad guys in S Storm, some of whom are outed in plot twists. But it’s pretty obvious who’s crooked and who’s not. The biggest bad is a European named Benjamin Boss (Barry O’Rorke) a.k.a. “Big Boss” – which sadly is not a Metal Gear reference because the filmmakers aren’t that clever. Boss does bring with him some horrible Caucasian actors – a fun staple of Golden Age Hong Kong Cinema, which was when director David Lam cut his teeth. To be fair, the Asian actors aren’t all that great either.
Performances vary across the spectrum; Julian Cheung is affable but lightweight in the second lead, while Ada Choi looks uncomfortable with her long expository speeches. Dada Chen is ultimately OK, though she has to struggle through a cringeworthy speech early on. Louis Koo phones this one in with a smug performance that screams, “The check cleared yesterday!” Of the whole cast, Vic Chou is the most interesting thanks to his soulful Tony Leung Chiu-Wai-esque eyes, which say more about his character than the script does.
Overall, S Storm is only average. But it’s a step up from its predecessor because it’s paced better and the action is sharper. Bruce Law’s car stunts are good, and the gunplay is fine. Also: There’s a hitman, which is always more interesting than white collar bad guys. The melodrama in S Storm is better than in Z Storm because Michael Wong isn’t around to ruin it. The negative: No Michael Wong, which means less unintentional entertainment. S Storm is basically a solid episode of a TV show, with routine drama and breaks for action. And at the end the main cast is largely intact to return next week.
The filmmakers also bring back the first film’s media references, with allusions to Hong Kong and greater China scandals, including one to Guo Meimei, an infamous mainlander who in 2011 claimed to be a Red Cross employee and earned the ire of Chinese netizens by flaunting her wealth on social media. These details entertain those in the know. And those who don’t know probably won’t notice. Everybody wins.
As mentioned earlier, S Storm is both a sequel and not a sequel. While William Luk and his team return from the first film. Luk has a different backstory, and Dada Chen, Lo Hoi-Pang and Keung Ho-Man play completely different characters. Barry O’Rorke also returns from Z Storm as a different character, though his role is essentially the same: He may be into different crimes. But he’s a shadowy European bad guy in both movies. O’Rorke’s presence gives the Z Storm–S Storm duology a weird continuity because it. In effect, brings back the bad guy who got away the last time.
Thanks for the closure, S Storm (phim hanh dong 2020)! To be honest. It’s likely that most audiences may not even notice this detail – and anyway, considering O’Rorke’s impact on the films. I’m talking about him way more than is actually deserved. The Storm movies are so disposable and forgettable that noticing the presence of Barry O’Rorke is only for the most eagle-eyed of moviegoers. Or people who tend to remember everything about bad movies.