V.G. Movie #35: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


Ah, Street Fighter. How I missed thee. I've already reviewed two films based on your franchise. There was the animated one that is actually pretty good. And then there was... you know. I give a decently detailed history of the games in the first link there, so I won't go much there. Instead, I'd like to focus on a certain character... Chun-Li. In the animated film, Chun-Li is central to the story and is pretty accurate to the games. In the first live-action film... she's not. Accurate, I mean. It's hard to tell what was central to that movie.

Chun-Li was introduced in 1991's Street Fighter II, the game that launched the series' success. She was the first female character in the series, and she had to be pretty tough to stand up to all those insanely over-bulky dudes. She mastered the Chinese martial art of kenpo, and she was strongest with her legs, doing mostly leg-related maneuvers (most famously the helicopter spin kick).

Her basic game story is that she is an undercover Interpol agent seeking revenge on M. Bison for killing her father. She goes after both him and his criminal organization, Shadaloo (or Shadowlaw). She finds out Shadaloo's involvement through an old friend of her father's Gen, and even gets some help from an Air Force member, Nash. Though in a non-canon spin-off series called Street Fighter EX, Chun-Li is a cop investigating the disappearance of her father, rather than his death.

Now, I saw this film in theaters. Let me tell you what... I've seen all the Twilight films in theater by myself. But it wasn't until this film that I actually felt embarrassed for having paid money to see this in a theater. I literally was trying to duck out of the theater without anyone seeing me--even strangers. In other words, I definitely knew what to expect going in the second time... but I'm not sure that helped.


I was originally going to attempt to write a whole new review from my original, which I wrote 3 years ago when the film first came out. I even re-watched the film. But as it turns out, I pretty much say it all and still agree with every word of that previous review that there's very little to add to that. So what follows is a slightly modified version of that very review.

The film is incredibly convoluted. Years ago, Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk) witnesses her father being taken away by an evil businessman named M. Bison (Meal McDonough) and his bodyguard, Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan). As she gets older and her mother passes away, a scroll is sent to her that leads her to Bangkok and find an old martial arts expert, Gen (Liu Kang...er... Robin Shou) to eventually seek her revenge. Meanwhile, an Interpol agent named Nash (Chris Klein) and Detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood) team up to investigate the deaths of all criminal businessmen within Bangkok... of course, all connected to Bison... who is trying to run the city... or something.

The acting was awful from everybody, except maybe Michael Clarke Duncan (and talk about really odd timing on my part). But he's such an uninteresting character, it doesn't matter. Though Chris Klein needs to be punched in the face for the performance he gave. Oh, and big, bad-ass assassin Vega? Yeah, played by Taboo. You know, of the Black-Eyed Peas. You know, the one BEP nobody cares about. 'Nuff Said. The script and all of its dialogue was atrocious, including the voice over. You know how they say not to do voice over in movies because it acts as a cop-out? A visual telling over showing? Well, I’d never understood that (because I’ve always seen voice over done well) until I saw this movie. Most of it was so completely unnecessary, and the film would have been better if they’d have shown the struggles or whatever it was that was being narrated instead of just saying it happened. For instance, there's a whole montage sequence detailing Chun-Li's struggles and personal evolution, but it's over in about 2 minutes and detailed mainly through voice-over instead of seeing any actual change.

The characters are nothing like their game counter-parts. Chun-Li here is made Chinese-American just to go along with Kristen Kreuk. And she's not Interpol or even a cop. She doesn't really have any job. She just... is. And the closest she gets to looking like her game counter-part is one scene where she has her hair up in her trademark buns. Balrog is supposed to be this massive boxer, but Michael Clarke Duncan shoots more guns and missile launchers than anything else. Also... how the hell was that M. Bison? It looked, sounded, and acted nothing like the character. It was almost more of a rip-off of Robert Patrick in Double Dragon than anything remotely similar to Bison. I don't know much about Nash as a character, but I can't imagine Chris Klein was even in the same realm of existence, much less anything else. (Seriously, his performance in this film is somewhere between Nic Cage and Tommy Wiseau.)

The story is all over the place in general, and there were also so many different illogical happenings, so many different things that just didn’t make sense. I don’t even know where to start listing things… from thick, plastic bathroom stall doors that shatter like glass to a white baby growing up in Chinese slums and ending up with an Irish accent. Or of how a girl can be raised in China (looking less and less Asian as she gets older) and end up speaking perfect English with no accent and also fails to comprehend Chinese characters on a scroll (of course it’s explained as ancient Chinese, but still). And then there’s how the police are able to figure out name and complete backgrounds of somebody who they only have a blurry picture of when most cops can’t identify murder victims that they have the actual bodies of. Not to mention one of said cops and said person in the blurry picture suddenly find one another randomly having had no previous contact and act as if they’re old buddies (which they aren’t). The list just goes on and on.

The only two redeeming values (and they aren’t very redeeming) are the action sequences and Kristen Kreuk’s incredible hotness. But the only action scene that’s more than 30 seconds seems to be the climax battle, which includes one of the cheesiest and most poorly done special effects I’d seen in a long time. With current technology, there was no need for it to look as awful as it did. But still, the action sequences were still, while not the best I've ever seen, rather entertaining... even if the wire-work was insanely obvious and it was clear they sped up the frames to make it look beter. And her helicopter spinkick moment was lame. But the best part of the movie was when Chun-Li goes into a club and seduces another woman. It lasts all of 30 seconds or so, but it’s hot. However, everything is soon ruined when you realize the song in the background (or at least the background song that follows it… I wasn’t paying that close attention to the music at the time) is an almost beat-for-beat rip-off ofTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II “Ninja rap.” Seriously, it’s like they put “Go ninja go ninja go!” on repeat, but then exchanged the words for “Street Fighter!” It was so cheesy and lame that it was nearly laughable.

This film is an utter mess. It unfortunately doesn't reach the cheese levels of the first live-action film, but is just laughable due to how absolutely nothing makes any logical sense and just looks ridiculous. And the terrible acting. I watched the "Unrated" version this time... but there's only less than a minute extra added, and I honestly couldn't tell any difference. If you want a good Street Fighter movie, check out the animated one. Hell, I'd even say to watch the original live-action version before this one. You'll get more so-bad-its-good entertainment there, at least. This one is just... not that good.

The Zed Word

(R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan)

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