Saturday, 11 July 2009

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

It is not often that I completely loathe a movie, as those who know me personally will state that I am a true movie fan and can always enjoy find something to praise about a movie, however horrible it may overall be. Unfortunately, more and more recent movies seem to achieve this, mainly due to incredibly stupid plots and more incredibly bad acting. I recently made the mistake of watching Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, and this has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Granted, reviews had already hailed The Legend of Chun Li as a massive disappointment, but I still carried on, convinced that a movie about Street Fighter could not be that bad. After all, the original Street Fighter was itself an atrocious Street Fighter movie, but nevertheless had its good points. However, this Street Fighter movie based on the first female fighting video game character, Chun Li, has no redeeming points whatsoever.

Of course, the cast itself should have been an indication that the movie would be nothing short of a blow to the Street Fighter franchise. Kristin Kreuk, as hot as she may be, looks nothing like Chun Li and her acting in this Street Fighter movie was particularly atrocious. The problem with this Street Fighter movie is that none of the cast looks like the character they are supposed to be, and no effort whatsoever was made to have them sport at least some resemblance to their Street Fighter alter ego.

Kreuk is not even Asian and most certainly lacks the physique to be Chun Li (who, let us all remember, is famous for her thighs, something which Kreuk will unfortunately never have). Gen is no longer an old man but is instead a relatively young Robin Shou, from Mortal Kombat fame. While the Van Damme movie was a crappy first attempt at a Street Fighter movie, it did have actors that looked like their video game counterparts. The original Street Fighter movie was also notable for Raul Julia's excellent portrayal of M. Bison. Fans of the Street Fighter series are this time left with a forgettable Bison (Neal McDonough).

The actors' pitiful performance is not helped by a ridiculous plot. I will briefly go over the fact that Chun Li is actually Asian when she is younger but then grows up to be American. That is probably something the late Michael Jackson would be proud of. Chun Li's father is abducted by M. Bison, and following this, Chun Li resolves to find him and kick Bison's ass at the same time (who wouldn't?). In order to do so, she must seek Gen who will teach her how to "fight".

When Chun Li finally catches up with Gen, the latter proceeds to create a fireball and throw it into a wall. Chun Li, as a true American-Chinese-Street Fighter citizen, merely looks on and is like "Cool beans! Where do I sign up?". The main story is that Bison wants to expand Shadaloo. Due to a severe case of either dementia or stupidity, everybody pronounces it "Sha-do-lao". Go figure. Along the way, Chun Li has an encounter with Vega, who is no longer Spanish, but is now Mexican. Morever, Vega wears his mask because he's goddamn ugly.

At one point, we are shown a flashback where Bison was an Asian baby but is Scottish when he grows up. Although he grew up in Bangkok, he nevertheless speaks English with a Scottish accent. Bison, who wants to be evil to conquer the world, decides he is not evil enough to carry out his formidable and totally original plans. He consequently takes his pregnant wife to a "Cave of Evil" where he rips the foetus out of his wife, obviouslly killing the woman the same time, and transfers his purity into the baby, I kid you not. However, Bison eventually has his grown-up daughter brought to him as she is now is only weakness.

...I am of the opinion that Justin Marks must have been high on weed when he wrote this and that he should be locked up for his crime against the Street Fighter brand.

Although the movie is called Street Fighter and is based on a figher, fights are pretty sparse in The Legend of Chun-Li. Incredibly enough, the best fight is the first one where Chun-Li's father fights Bison's henchmen, which include Michael Duncan Clarke as Balrog (rest assured that his acting is as shitty as the other actors'; in fact, I am going to boycott all his movies from now on). It is also evident that Kreuk cannot fight, as the producers try to hide this with some flashy effects and more "fast-motion bullet-time" (apparently, such a thing now exists) than you can shake a stick at. Kreuk, who is supposed to be Chinese, also strggles to speak mandarin.

Chun Li eventually manages to track Bison down with Nash's help, and the finale consists of a fight between Gen and Bison, followed by another one between Chun Li and Bison. Chun Li uses her street fighting skills to eventually beat Bison while the latter's daughter is watching. In probably the worst scene in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, she then proceeds to brutally murder Bison with his daughter still watching with a horrified look on her face. At the end of the movie, Chun Li turns to Nash, gestures to the girl, and says with a straight face (the only emotion available in Kristin Kreuk's repertoire) "Make sure she has a good life.".

Yes, that is how stupid the movie is. I am surprised that such a script was accepted, and even George Lucas would have to dig hard to come up with such cheesy lines. The other big disappointment with The Legend of Chun Li is that it's about Chun Li. In this aspect, this second Street Fighter live action movie shares the same problem as its predecessor. Street Fighter is about Ryu, the game's main protagonist. If fans want a Street Fighter movie, they will expect to see Ryu in it, and he'd better be the main actor. Unfortunately, important character like Ryu, Ken, and Akuma don't even get a cameo in The Legend of Chun Li.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li also tries to make to many changes to appeal to a greater audience. Ultimately, this happens for most video game-to-movie adaptations, and Hollywood still won't learn from their past mistakes. By changing the storyline, they are effectively alienating the only people who care about the movie in the first place: the original fans. It serves no purpose making mass changes for the benefits of the wide screen, as the general audience probably doesn't give a crap about the movie anyway. Had they stuck to the source material, they would probably have churned out a decent movie, and the buzz alone would have led non-fans to watch the movie. There is a reason why book adaptations usually work so well while video game ones fail so spectacularly.

I like to think that this movie never existed. The first Street Fighter movie was in itself a bad movie too, but it had some charm about it and it's bad in a fun way. Unfortunately, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li does not have this charm and is instead thoroughly irritating.

The funniest thing is that this three-minute scene from Jackie Chan's City Hunter is still the best live action Street Fighter "movie" we ever got:



Jackie Chan = Legend