V.G. Movie #37: Tekken.

[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.]


So... another fighting game movie. This game came out in 1994 in arcades in in 1995 on the Playstation. The story of the game revolves around the King of the Iron Fists (Tekken is basically "Iron Fist" in Japanese) fighting tournament run by the owner of a major conglomerate. The winner gets *pinky to mouth* One billion dollars! One of the competitors is the estranged son of the man who runs the tournament, wanting vengeance. Apparently his daddy threw him off a cliff when he was 5 to test his strength or something. And then he made a deal with a Devil to survive and get the power to defeat his father. Years later he, of course, eventually beats him and throws him off the same cliff.

The second game picks up two years later where Kazuya (the aforementioned son) is now running the big company, making it even more evil and whatnot than it was before. But then an animal rights activist named Jun is sent to arrest him. And Heihachi, Kazuya's father, survived the fall and is training to defeat his son. So to get rid of his father, Kazuya throws another tournament. But when Jun finally confronts him, she's more in love with him than angry and ends up becoming his baby momma. Heihachi eventually reaches Kazuya in the tournament and, despite Kazuya being re-possessed by the Devil thing, Heihachi defeats him by throwing him into a volcano.

The third game picks up fifteen years later. Heihachi sets up a "Tekken Force" to protect his company and is responsible for a lot of the current world peace. But then a creature called Ogre appears and starts dispatching a lot of fighters. It targets Jun, knocking her son Jin--also the son of Kazuya--unconscious. He wakes up to find his home burning and his mother missing. He travels to Heihachi for help and training, though Heihachi has started feeling the need for world domination again upon the rise of Ogre. He trains Jin for two years and then starts the next tournament in hopes of bringing out Ogre. Jin eventually defeats the monstrous Ogre, but is shot down by Heihachi and the Tekken Force. Devil revives Jin, possessing him, and sends Heihachi plummeting down a long fall (which he survives). Jin flies away with some feathery wings. (Note: Many consider Tekken 3 not only one of the best games of the genre, but one of the best games of all time.)

And I think that's about as far as I need to go, since the film's primary character is a teenage Jin, so I would assume it only goes up to this point in the game series... you know, if it even has anything to do with the games... which I doubt. They almost never do. Though I've heard, at the very least, the film isn't that bad. So let's find out, shall we?


In the first five minutes, this film disregarded any story, character arch, and background the games have to offer. You know... all that stuff I just finished detailing after 10 minutes of wikipedia research? Yeah... ignored completely. In the future, WW3 has basically decimated the world, and now the world is run by a group of mega-corporations collectively known as Iron Fist. One of these corporations is known as Tekken, which resides in Tekken City. Jin (Jon Foo) lives in the slums outside Tekken City and is popular amongst its people as a former street fighter. But when his mother Jun is killed, Jin wins a "people's choice" spot in Iron Fist tournament so he can get closer to those he deems responsible for her murder--Heihachi (Cary Tagawa) and his son Kazuya (Ian Anthony Dale), the leaders of Tekken.

Even after only 10 minutes of background research, I feel offended at how absurdly different this is from the game's rather simple storylines. I mean, seriously... they had to try hard to change this up. I mean, on it's own it's not terrible. It's not original in the lightest, and it's a little dull, but it's not terrible. But they seriously went above and beyond to make this as different as possible from the games.

The writing is pretty crap, too. And not just the dialogue (which is silly and bland simultaneously), but character actions and motivations, too. And some really cheesy moments, too. (There's actually a scene near the end where a guy starts a slow chant of "Jin," followed by another guy, and then the entire crowd.) I couldn't really get behind Jin, either. He was an irrational hothead who, really, never learns much. And he blatantly cheats on his girlfriend with no repercussions whatsoever. Also... if Tekken wasn't already a fighter-to-the-death tournament, what's with Yoshimitsu? He's an armor-clad samurai dude who fights with a sword. I mean, first, that's not fair to anybody he fights against with all that armor if they're just trying to knock him out. Second, how's he going to just knock out his enemy rather that kill him if all he does is sword fight?

There's just not much I want to waste my time on with this movie. The action is decent, though nothing to scream about. But there's also no stakes. Every fight has no weight to it. Any character that you might have some connection to never fights another one. It's either two nothing characters or a nothing character and a major character, like Jin. So you either automatically know the outcome or don't care because it doesn't really matter.

This is just another bizarre example of a movie deciding its own story will be better than the source material... and it's really not. I mean, I guess with something like this, altering the source material can maybe work if what you have is really good. But it's not. And really, the only people--besides people like me--who will watch this movie are Tekken fans. But this movie isn't made for Tekken fans, because it's nothing like the games. So this film falls into the pit of "a movie made for no one." I think the best thing about this is the fact Cary Tagawa is in it (Shang Tsung, FTW), and he sports a ridiculous hairdo (which is taken from his game counterpart). Otherwise, not really worth it. Ignoring the fact it's a God-awful adaptation, it's not terrible, but not good, either.

Feed Me, Seymour!


  1. Yea, it's nothing great, but the fights are fun enough and it has enough visual flair to keep me interested.

    I've never played any Tekken, I stink at fighting games, so I didn't really care whether or not the film was made for Tekken fans.

    I think, unlike you, the story is functional. I didn't think it was that absurd, albeit the conceit is pretty silly, but it hits enough beats for me to feel they at least tried.

    Also, the most ridiculous bit of the film to me is how Jin has a girlfriend that pretty much doesn't factor into the film until you see her in some shot at the end of the film! Such a meaningful relationship!

    1. Oh, I do think the story is functional. It just so happened I didn't care for it all that much. But yeah, the girlfriend thing was ridiculous. Why introduce her if you're just gonna have Jin hooking up with somebody else and only show the girlfriend in a quick clip or two watching the fights at the end?


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