Monday, March 2, 2009

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li movie review

This 2009 martial arts action film is based on the Capcom video game franchise of the same name. It is also the second live-action Street Fighter movie following Jean-Claude Van Damme’s infamous 1994 film and is directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, the maestro behind such action luminaries as Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave, Exit Wounds and Doom. Seriously how does this guy keep getting work? To be fair, no one does generic martial arts movies starring Jet Li, Steven Segal and rapper DMX quite like him. Anyway, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li stars Smallville’s Kristen Kreuk as Chun-Li, a young girl on a journey of justice for the murder of her father by the hands of the evil M. Bison. From China to Bangkok, along the way she finds a teacher in Gen (played by Mortal Combat’s Liu Kang, Robin Shou), unlikely allies in Charlie Nash (played by Chris Klein) and must strive for inner peace in order to defeat her enemies. The big question here is: will this be as bad as Van Damme’s 1994 film, or will there finally be a good Street Fighter live action movie?

No one’s a bigger Van Damme fan than me, and yet I can fully say that his Street Fighter movie is one of the worst movies ever made. It took all that was great in the Street Fighter universe, crapped on it, and then let it out to rot. So when they announced a new Street Fighter movie, one that didn’t even have the main character of the game in Ryu, I was reticent to say the least. This, while better shot than the Van Damme movie, is still not any good. It straddles the line of being so bad it’s good, however, I’d have to learn more towards just being plain crappy. I just don’t get why they can’t make a decent Street Fighter movie. Make it like Bloodspot, where characters face off and fight. While I can understand how in 1994 it was impossible to do many of the moves, CGI has advanced far enough where we can show believable looking fireballs, yoga noogies, and sonic booms. Why can’t Hollywood get it right? When it comes to Street Fighter, it’s not about the story but about the action. I mean, Japanese animation has made some fantastic Street Fighter movies, in Street Fighter 2 and Street Fighter Zero. However, beyond being a fan of the video game, only a fan can get even a semblance of enjoyment from this movie because it is simply craptacular. I mean even the main villain M. Bison, doesn’t do any of his moves in this movie. He’s just a sucky martial artist. How does he control the largest evil organization in the world? He sucks. The movie also takes place in Bangkok, and yet one of the major characters in the game, the only character from Thailand, Sagat, is not even in the movie? Why? I don’t know.

The action in this movie is also baffling. The fighting scenes, for a martial arts movie, feel as if there’s no immediacy, no validity. In one scene, Chun-Li busts out her signature upside down helicopter kicks and it looks like her feet don’t actually touch anyone. It all just looks so fake. Seriously, there’s these long drawn out fight scenes and at the end, it looks like none of the action hurts, none of the moves hit, and for a martial arts movie, that is the greatest sin because if we don’t feel if anyone’s getting hurt then what’s the point. I can understand how Kristen Kreuk cannot actually do martial arts, but neither can Zhang Ziyi or many other actors for that matter, but you can make it believable with good choreography. Let’s just say, choreography is not this movies strong suit.

There’s also this supernatural aspect of how M. Bison channeled all his goodness into his unborn daughter to make him the ultimate underworld leader because he has no conscience. Okay, so no conscience equals ruling the world? They don’t even try to explain why this was important, just that he went to some secret cave to lose the goodness in him. Just shut the hell up Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

There is one actor in this film that I want to point out and that is Chris Klein. I’ve always been a Chris Klein fan. I enjoyed what little he did in the American Pie movies and thought the Rollerball remake was pretty good. But here, Chris Klein as Charlie Nash is simply appalling. It’s like he thought he was in a different film, one about people with fake southern accents and Nic Cage mullets. He’s like, and this is an actual line and accent from the movie, “I’m Charlie Nash from Interpol. Charlie Nash.” Just terrible.

This movie does have a few memorable lines as its predecessor did. In one scene M. Bison says about someone he’s about to kill: “he’s like milk and milk has an expiration date.” Oh snap. While the original Van Damme movie was so bad it transcended the meaning and became memorable, this one is just simply bad and will be forgotten quite soon. The projected budget of this movie is around 60 million and I have no idea where that money went to because it ain’t the action. So I give this a, “sneak out, I want my money back rating.” Maybe check it out on dvd if you’re a fan of the video games, but yeah, bad. Thanks again for another winner 20th Century Fox. What a way to start another year.

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