Lord Conquer (Sonny Chiba) is a warlord who is told by the prophet Mud Buddha that if he finds and trains two young martial artists, Cloud and Wind, then he will be invincible for the first half of his life. Lord Conquer sets out to find Wind and Cloud, killing their fathers and raising them himself. Ten years later, he is well on his way to conquering the world. Then Mud Buddha reveals the prophecy for the second half of his life: as Wind and Cloud were responsible for his rise to power, so too will they be responsible for his downfall...
The movie is notable for being the first Wu Xia movie to extensively use CGI special effects.
The English-dubbed version released in the United States was badly Macekred, with large cuts making the plot nearly impossible to follow; the uncut subbed version is far superior.
There is a 2009 sequel titled The Storm Warriors and an Animated Adaptation, Storm Riders: Clash of Evils.
This film contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Conquer shatters the bones of Cloud's arm with an X-ray view of the damage, borrowed from Sonny Chiba's The Street Fighter movies.
- Blood Magic: The Life's Best Sword can only be awakened (read: made to extend itself out of the ground to epic soundtrack) with the blood of Cloud and his father.
- Bloody Murder: Cloud can manipulate water, including his own blood if necessary.
- Casting Gag: the sequel features Kenny Ho, who starred in Hongkong's early manhua Live-Action Adaptation of Chinese Hero as lead character Hua Yingxiong - who was played by Cheng Ekin (Wind) in the movie version.
- Close-Call Haircut: Phoenix's arrow cuts a few strands of hair from Cloud's head.
- Disney Death: Cloud in Storm Warriors. Clash of Evils, in following comic canon, reveals that he survived.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The main theme is sung by Cheng Ekin, who plays Wind, and the tune you hear when Charity is laid to rest is sung by Aaron Kwok, who plays Cloud. Aaron also sings the ending theme.
- Evil Hand: Summit Yu's Fire Beast Arm acts like this because he isn't its true master.
- Extremity Extremist: Detailed by the martial arts techniques and even lampshaded at one point. Wind specialises in kicks while Cloud and Frost deliver palm strikes and punches.
- Gotta Catch Them All: Lord Conquer is obsessed with collecting the world's four best swords
- Improvised Weapon: Lord Conquer and Wind's father Whispering Prince duel in a bamboo grove with said bamboos, which get whittled from massive 10-foot affairs down to 3-foot slivers.
- Life-or-Limb Decision: When Cloud fights Lord Conquer in the tomb, Lord Conquer breaks all the bones in his arm. Cloud tears the arm off and uses the blood to attack Lord Conquer.
- Love Triangle: Wind, Cloud, and Charity; encouraged by Lord Conquer in an effort to turn Wind and Cloud against one another.
- Meaningful Name: Mud Buddha's name comes from the Chinese adage "a mud buddha, if brought across a river, cannot protect itself".
- Monumental Battle: Lord Conquer and Whispering Prince duel to the death atop a mountain buddha statue, which does exist in Real Life, but was rendered in CGI for the scene.
- Mummies at the Dinner Table: The Ice Vigor, which makes a corpse look alive, is used for this purpose.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Curiously inverted. Several characters, despite being powerful martial artists, will fight with a sword when they can. In fact, Wind and Cloud finally defeat Lord Conquer when they reclaim their fathers' swords. Lord Conquer himself stated that he's actually a better swordsman than bare-handed fighter, despite his reputation as the latter.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Muse inadvertently kills the Sword Saint.
- Offing the Offspring: When Lord Conquer learns the second half of the prophecy, he takes this route.
- Red Right Hand: Cloud after his whole-arm-transplant.
- Screw Destiny: Upon hearing the prophecy for the second half of his life, Lord Conquer renounces his belief in fate.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: The names in Mandarin are not that far off from the English names you see here. Seriously. It gets egregious when Wind, Cloud and Frost are taught martial arts techniques with part of their respective names.
- Taking the Bullet: Charity blocking Lord Conquer's attack.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Sword Saint's out-of-body Finishing Move on Lord Conquer depends entirely on not disturbing his material body in any way.