7.12.2009

The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

DIRECTED BY
Andrzej Bartkowiak

STARRING
Kristin Kreuk - Chun-Li
Neal McDonough - M. Bison
Chris Klein - Charlie Nash
Michael Clarke Duncan - Balrog
Taboo - Vega
Robin Shou - Gen
Moon Bloodgood - Detective Maya Sunee
Edmund Chen - Xiang Huang
Josie Ho - Cantana
Elizaveta Kiryukhina - Rose

Genre - Action/Video Games

Running Time - 96 Minutes

Score - BOMB


Dear Hollywood,
Hi. How are you doing? It's Fred again. I'm not sure if you received any of my previous letters, but I've made it quite known that you and I have not been seeing things eye-to-eye lately. You already know how displeased I am with the remake trend. You know that the whole "let's extend a tired franchise with another sequel" has been getting on my nerves. And now I have another concern: the continuation of video games-into-films adaptations. Let me give you some advice:

Just stop. JUST. STOP. PLEASE.

It's been, how long, and you guys still can't create an adaptation that will please both fanboys and casual film goers? From DOOM, to RESIDENT EVIL, to BLOODRAYNE, to SUPER MARIO BROS., you guys are really yanking my chain with really poor adaptations. Sure, you've hit a few triples - MORTAL KOMBAT and SILENT HILL ring to mind - but the success rate compared to the failure rate is more miss than hit.

Let's add STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI to the failure list. I understand the need to erase the bad taste of the original 1994 STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE by rebooting the franchise. But doing a film based on Chun-Li instead of Ryu and Ken was a really bad move. You know what else is bad? Making me want to see STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE over this piece of garbage! When the original film seems like a more fun experience to watch than the update, we have a serious problem.

PLOT
Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) is a young girl who dreams of a simple life as a concert pianist. Her dreams are almost shattered when her father (Edmund Chen), a martial artist who is also a businessman with connections, has a run-in with evil businessman/crime lord/leader of Shadaloo M. Bison (Neal McDonough) and his henchman Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan). Chun-Li witnesses the two men kidnap her father, leaving her full of vengeance until she's much older. Coincidentally, a mysterious scroll leads her to Bangkok to find some guy named Gen (Robin Shou), who happens to be a former member of Shadaloo and an enemy of M. Bison. Meeting up, Gen decides to take Chun-Li under his wing, teaching her ways to fight against Bison and the rest of his organization.

While this goes on, some Interpol agent named Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) arrives in Bangkok to take down Bison. With the help of a local detective named Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood), their paths intertwine with Chun-Li's - leading to more destruction and boredom.

REVIEW
I have three words for STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI:

WHAT THE FUCK!?

Say what you will about STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE. Yes, it's a horrible film. Yes, it had nothing to do with the video game itself. Yes, it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as an AMERICAN with a BELGIAN accent. But at least it was bad to the point where you could sort of make fun of thing for its psuedo-camp factor. Unfortunately, THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI is not campy or bad enough to really make fun of it. It's just a boring, confusing mess of an origin story for a character in a franchise that doesn't really deserve one.

Written by inexperienced screenwriter Justin Marks, he thought it would be a great idea to focus on a Street Fighter character that people loved. While Chun-Li is my personal favorite character in the franchise to use in the video game series, I never really wanted to have a 90 minute backstory about her. But Marks sure did, only for the sexy Kristin Kreuk to show her flexibility and for her hotness to overcompensate over how bad the script is. I wouldn't have minded if the story was simple and straight-forward enough for me to invest in the characters and actually enjoy seeing the plots flow together and make sense. But nothing here is logical and there's just too much going on for what's supposed to be a reboot/origin story. We have Chun-Li's revenge arc. We have Bison's shady business deals that are so weak and don't amount to much that I'm left wondering what the point was. We have supernatural things where consciences are being implanted in and out of souls. We have the stereotypical training montages that lead to a horrible fight sequence at the end. We also have the whole sub-plot with the cops who may or may not shag. I mean, how do all these things mesh together? It's like Marks vomited his ideas on paper and decided to attempt putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle, not realizing that the pieces don't go together at all. It actually made the film seem longer than it should have been because story arcs would continuously appear without resolving the others. Instead, he wrote a freakin' psuedo-lesbian dance sequence in between Chun-Li and Cantana that just left me scratching my head. IT WASN'T EVEN SEXY!! How do you fuck up a lesbian dance sequence between two hot chicks? This guy should not write another screenplay again. BANNED, I DECLARE THEE! BEGONE!

Speaking of character development, there's not much here. Sure, we see Chun-Li's evolution from innocent little girl to revenge-filled ninja wannabe. But it doesn't progress as well as it should. We constantly get voice-over narration by Chun-Li about what she's been doing or what she will do. But we never see these things. So it's all telling and not enough showing, which hurts the narrative greatly. Same goes to Bison's backstory, which is given maybe five minutes and it's just him mainly killing his wife to send his conscience into his baby daughter's soul. Why he does this is never even explained. I guess he couldn't just be an evil bastard who wanted to hurt people to display his great power. He had to send his good side to someone else to explain his villainy. Uh huh. And don't get me started on the two cop characters. There was supposed to be sexual tension between them, but we know NOTHING about these two or why they would even want to bang each other to begin with. I guess Marks figured there had to be a love story in the flick and he inserted these two idiot characters to do that. And adding Vega just to have his ass kicked within 2 minutes like some pussy? Like I said...BEGONE!

I won't even mention the dialogue. It makes the original STREET FIGHTER read like Shakespeare. So cliched. So ridiculous. And even the actors seem ashamed to recite them. They sure weren't ashamed of that nice paycheck though. Greed...gotta love it.

The fight choregraphy and the SFX to THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI are pretty lame. The SFX pretty much consists of Gen teaching Chun-Li her fireball move, the Kikouken. And it looks really REALLY bad. The fact that the fireballs in both DRAGONBALL and MORTAL KOMBAT looked better is pretty sad. The fight choregraphy was also pretty bland. Lots of wire work used here, but the fights are very disjointed and too damn short. I think the longest one was probably 8 minutes and that was the final battle between Chun-Li and Bison. EIGHT FUCKIN' MINUTES. This is a movie for a FIGHTING game and we barely get FIGHTING.

FUCK YOU, FOX AND CAPCOM.

Not only that, but no one uses their special moves! Okay, Chun-Li uses that damn fireball and at one point does her Spinning Bird Kick [which knocks everyone down and out even though she makes no contact with them], but where's the Lightning Kick? Where's Bison's Psycho Crusher? Or Vega's Wall Jump moves? Hell, where was Balrog's...um, what does he do again? Yeah, STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE did more special moves than this one. Sad, I know.

I don't blame the fighting technicians or stunt actors for the crappy fight scenes. I blame the director of the film, Andrezj Bartkowiak, for that. For a guy who directed CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE, EXIT WOUNDS, and DOOM, I would think he would know how to capture action on film. Nope, he makes it seem fairly dull and an afterthought. The fight scenes are edited poorly, clearly showing the actors not making contact with each other. They're also edited in a way where tension is lost and you're not excited to watch what's going on at all. At least that feeling is consistent with the rest of the film, which just seems to meander as it continues, destroying all signs of good pacing and making the film feel like an eternity to finish. I will say the cinematography is very nice but that's really the only GOOD thing I can say about this film. A director should be able to make multiple sub-plots visually seem as if they all relate to each other. Not this guy. A director should make a fighting movie feel like a fighting movie. Not this guy. A director should make a sexy dance scene between two very attractive women seem titlating. Not this guy. I have one word for this guy:

HACK!!!

The acting was just as abysmal. Kristin Kreuk, best known as Lana Lang on Smallville, does her best with the material as Chun-Li. I'll give her credit for doing her own stunt work and trying to deepen the shallow script and characterization, but it's in vain. She doesn't have the range to really carry a film like this. And her voice-over narrations were really painful to hear. It sounded like she was bored reading her character's thoughts. And I was bored hearing them. Neal McDonough, from a whole bunch of shit typecast as the villain for pretty much all of them, is totally miscast as Bison. He's supposed to be Irish but has an accent that switches between that, British, and American. It's actually pretty funny to hear. And while he does make a cool villain in some other films, he just feels like a joke here. Michael Clarke Duncan does nothing of note as Balrog but laugh, smile, and flex his muscles. Must have been a nice paycheck. Robin Shou will be torched by all MORTAL KOMBAT fans for committing treason by going over to STREET FIGHTER and playing Gen - and playing him horribly as well. Wooden and cold is the best way to describe his performance. Moon Bloodgood, from TERMINATOR: SALVATION and recently Burn Notice, is actually decent but isn't given anything to do but show some cleavage [which was very nice by the way, thanks]. But the worst actor has to be, hands down, Chris Klein as Charlie Nash. I have no idea how this douche is still getting acting jobs. He can't act. He has this smirk on his face that makes me want to knee him in the junk. He's a wannabe playing a wannabe ladies' man, growing a five o'clock shadow to look cool and sporting hair that's about to be sued by Nicholas Cage for copyright infringement. Klein either overacts or underacts throughout the entire film, becoming the stereotype of a badass cop but looking just like an ass instead. And what was up with the voice he used here? He was trying to be Clint Eastwood and shit. Sounded more like David Caruso to me.

THINGS I REFUSED TO LEARN WHILE WONDERING WHERE THE FUCK WERE RYU AND KEN [a.k.a. THE REAL STARS OF THE STREET FIGHTER FRANCHISE]
- Chun-Li had a Caucasian mother. Nice to see some women who don't believe in the "Size Matters" theory. Oooh BURN!!

- Michael Clarke Duncan, an Academy-Award nominated actor, plays the American boxer, Balrog. I guess walking down THE GREEN MILE makes you DAREDEVIL enough to star in really shitty films.

- "Show a prisoner the world and all he sees are the bars on the window." He also sees the soap on the wet shower floor. No one talks about that but it's a pain in the ass to bring up anyway.

- Some scroll reader told Chun-Li to "Go to Bangkok... Find Gen to find out what you are missing." I heard that's how Asia Carrera got into porn.

- Robin Shou, who played Liu Kang in the MORTAL KOMBAT films, plays Gen. Wait a minute...a MORTAL KOMBAT actor in a STREET FIGHTER film!? Not only is that fanboy treason, but I think Shou just performed a Hara-Kiri on his career. FATALITY!

- In order to get closer to the enemy, Chun-Li had to initiate with a lesbian dance with one of Shadaloo's female heads. It was like an episode of The L Word, except the L stood for Lame. How sad...

- Bison beat up Cantana, literally using her as a punching bag, after she got her ass kicked by Chun-Li. If he wanted to torture her this badly, he should have just sent her to Detroit.

- Bison had to transfer the good part of his soul to his unborn child... by ripping the belly of his pregnant wife open in order to do it. He could have just used a Ouija Board or a bouncing bed like everyone else. Sheesh.

- While trying to kill Chun-Li, Balrog got distracted when a watermelon was thrown at his head. Since the stereotype is deliciously obvious, I'll keep my mouth shut on this one.

- Nash wanted everyone to run away from the scene when he noticed a bomb waiting to explode. If that's the case, shouldn't they have refused to sign on for this project?

Oh...wrong bomb. My bad.

THE FINAL HOWL
When will I watch a good film for once? Not that I was expecting STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI to be any good. I wasn't expecting it to be this horrible either. From a horrible script, lame action and lesbian sequences, and terrible acting led by Chris Klein, THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI cements that 2009 is one of the worst years in terms of cinematic quality. How this ever get released to theaters is beyond me! Just stop the video game adaptations. It's never gonna work. For the sake of my sanity, just end it. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. I'm sending this bitch into the WTF? Vault with a big Hadoken!


4 comments:

  1. I thought this looked okay. After reading this, I will take your advice and stay away!

    JM

    ReplyDelete
  2. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobJuly 12, 2009 at 7:20 PM

    Kristin kreuk is a hot chick, she was 25 when this movie was shot so she was 7 years past the peak of her physical attractiveness and desirability. I just wish every chick in every movie could be an 18 year-old sexpot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOW I GUESS THE DRIVE IN NEEDS TO SEE THIS...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Im going over to Patch's with some popcorn, I cant NOT see it, especially after the awesome original.

    ReplyDelete

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