If your goal is style over substance, then your style better be pretty damned mind-boggling to look at, otherwise your movie goes downhill fast. Such is the case with the Asian cinema flick 'Wind Blast.' The front of the Blu-ray case promises "a kung fu western on steroids," what we really get is a flabby western wannabe that hasn't been to the gym for months.
When you have nothing else to fall back on and all you're touting is your action scenes, then those action scenes better blow everyone away. This is what 'The Raid' did. They knew they didn't have a strong narrative, so they filled it with so much frantically-paced action that you completely forgot about the lack of story, characterization, or plot. 'Wind Blast's action scenes are unimaginative to the point that characters simply carry around one tiny gun and try to shoot each other. Tiny handgun battles? This is what they consider a steroid-laden kung-fu-western?
There is a story here, but honestly, it's muddled. A group of policemen are trying to bring in a suspect, but that same suspect is wanted by a nefarious group of people who send a couple assassins to extract him from police custody so they can deal with him on their own.
The characters are so lightly covered here that it's difficult to distinguish them as the movie moves along from one tepid action scene to another.
Most of the movie takes place in the Gobi Desert, which is a fitting backdrop. Miles and miles of nothingness, much like the feeling provided by the movie's narrative.
Like so many kung fu movies, the entire tale boils down to some abstract meaning of duty and honor as the characters kill each other off because it's "[their] fate." I'm always amazed at movies like this that can pull the Fate Card out of its hat when these characters are all clearly doing what they're doing because of their inflated egos. This has nothing to do with honor or fate and everything to do with one guy thinking he can kill the other guy.
The entire movie culminates in a strange climactic battle in what appears to be an abandoned police station, complete with a stampede of horses running through for some hazily explained reason. It's not like they use the appearance of hundreds of horses to any creative advantage though. They don't factor it into the fight scene in any memorable or cool way. They stampede through the scene as the characters watch. Once it's over they continue on with the battle of egos to see whose is definitely bigger. However, the winner of that fight has already been crowned to the person who saw fit to emblazon the cover of the movie with such meaningless hyperbolic blabber. Did they really think that this kung fu western topped all the other ones out there? Did they really think that their kung fu western was better than movies like 'The Good, the Bad, and the Weird' or even 'Sukiyaki Western: Django'? Egos indeed.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Wind Blast' is a Well Go USA release. The movie comes on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. It comes in a standard keepcase with a slipcover featuring the same artwork as the case. It's noted as being a Region A release.
'Wind Blast' has a very sharp, detailed look to it. Sometimes its 1080p picture appears a little too sharp, but it doesn't look like it was overly enhanced in any way. Whites do burn quite hot here, but that could be from filming in the desert. Facial details are strong from character stubble to the cuts, bruises and abrasions that each person suffers as the movie wears on. Blacks and shadows are strong and resilient. There isn't a lot of color to be had here since much of the movie is laid on the backdrop of the yellow-brown sand of the Gobi. Explosions feature some nicely rendered reds and oranges.
One sex scene has been deliberately blurred out, like we were watching this movie on basic cable or something. It's a very odd scene. Two people are clearly having sex, but a very noticeable ball of blur has been placed over them. This seems like a strange occurrence for a release in the US. I could see Chinese censors doing something like that, but shouldn't the movie be restored for release elsewhere? The scene was obviously filmed and meant to be in the movie at some point in time. If something like this happened to some other more popular movie people would be up in arms. I can't say for sure why it happened, but I can say that the way 'Wind Blast' is presented here most likely isn't the way the movie was meant to be seen.
I found 'Wind Blast's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix to be satisfying, but nothing that made me sit up and take notice of what was going on. If anything the sound effects here are given a tad too much emphasis. Punches, kicks, gunshots, and car crashes all seem to be presented a little louder than they should be especially when you're comparing them to the relative softness of the dialogue.
Rear channels pick up some nice gunplay and explosions. The horse stampede, while nonsensical, does offer some nice low-end hoof beats along with some decent panning effects as horses lumber from one side of the frame to the other. There were a couple instances where the lip sync didn't seem to match up exactly, but it fixed itself relatively fast without doing much damage.
This is a very competent audio presentation – minus a few hiccups – but it isn't a "wow" mix. It simply does its job and performs decently.
If you're a self-proclaimed "kung fu movie on steroids" you'd better be a "kung fu movie on steroids." Instead 'Wind Blast' is as tepid as they come. Sure, fight scenes outnumber character-centric scenes three to one, but when all the fight scenes are iterations of stuff we’ve already seen before it's very easy to lose interest rather quickly. Chalk 'Wind Blast' up to being yet another forgettable kung fu flick without heart, soul, or memorable characters.