Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)


Not seen in this film.

Alright this seems to be the last freebie left on Comcast … at least for now. Guess it’s back to not posting anything for months for a while after this.

I’ve actually never seen the original Van Damme / Raul Julia Street Fighter movie. Apparently this 2009 release has nothing to do with it, however, nor with the Street Fighter game canon at all. A line at the end of this movie indicates it takes place before the Street Fighter 2 tournament, but the movie also ends with (SPOILAR) Bison dead and Shadowloo effectively destroyed … so who goes on to hold the tournament, then? I guess since this movie bombed so badly, we’ll never know.

So once again we have some hack director / cadre of writers wading into an adaptation of a video game IP with no real prior knowledge of it, nor any fucks given about it. They arrogantly decide that their personal interpretation and re-arrangement of the source material is MUCH better than any established in-game canon, and the sheeple populace will most certainly agree when they are treated to this masterpiece of celluloid. Which inevitably proceeds to get a sub-10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and becomes yet another legendary joke. Actually, I’m probably giving them more credit for even giving a shit about the project than they actually deserve there. Anyway, doing the directorial honors this time out is Polish mouthful Andrzej Bartkowiak, best known prior to this for Romeo Must Die and the Doom adaptation, and his writer is Justin Marks, who wrote a few things back in the early 2000s that I’ve never heard of.

The deal with this one is that it’s trying to be a more “grounded in realism” interpretation of Street Fighter … no inexplicable tournament, no Yoga Fire, etc. But at random times, Magical Powers will just come out of nowhere. Chunners eventually starts flying around in physics-defying wire-fu style, Bison goes through some dark ritual of murdering his wife to get evil kung fu powers, and eventually Gen trains Chun Li in fireball throwing. My question is, if you’re gonna go to Rad Ki powers eventually anyway … why toss out so much of what fans enjoy about the games to begin with?

It’s not like they had a compelling and original story that they were bursting to tell here … Chun Li’s revenge tale just kind of rattles along from conventional martial arts revenge movie trope to trope, with the story usually being advanced by some character showing up and spouting the narrative in talking head style. We start with Dad Gets Killed By Kung Fu Gangsters, to Meeting With The Wise Master, to Control Your Urge For Revenge Or You Will Never Defeat The Evil One, to Showdown At Bad Guy HQ. I’m probably forgetting a couple steps in there but you know the deal.

Let’s look at some of the finer points of the casting:

Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li: She’s preeeeety, but … this about as mis-cast as mis-casts get. She’s no less thin and waifish in the movie as she is in this shot, lacking all the quintessential elements of Chun Li – thunder thighs, considerable breasts, the hair buns, and the quasi-traditional dress. She’s also pretty emotionally flat as an actress, though I don’t really put any of the movie’s failing on her, I mean she’s not being given a whole lot to work with.

Neal McDonough as M. Bison: This pic was mocked up by IGN before the movie was released … in fact just after McDonough was announced as a cast member. It unwittingly turned out to be the best possible one because McDonough in the movie pretty much looks like the pic of him on the right the whole time. I mean, it works for the movie context of Bison, which is this sleazy businessman whose whole scheme is just to illegaly purchase and then raze some slums in Bangkok so he can build condos and get richer, and only has dark kung fu powers because a final showdown with Chunners is requisite. The movie context of Bison is about a hundred miles off of the actual character, though. Anyway, McDonough looks like that one frat boy that actually joined the corporate world and made something of himself after the days of hazing and banging drunk skanks in the Omega Omega Omega house. That’s pretty much what he brings to this role here.

Hey, do you recognize this man? It’s Robin Shou, aka Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat! His appearance in this movie (as Gen) made me feel old as balls for a minute because Mortal Kombat came out back when I was just starting high school, and I never thought he was more than ten or so years older than me at most. Turns out he’s actually about 20 years older than me, and was just a rather ripped and spritely-looking 35 or so in MK, so now I feel a lot better since I’ve looked that up (he’s actually gonna be 52 this year apparently). Anyway … again, within the context of the movie this makes more sense than an old bearded wise man, but the context of the movie is just so far off of the game. Like with MK, I thought he was one of the better members of the cast. He’s a legit and competent martial arts coreographer and he has kind of a bouncy energy that seems like he enjoys doing even these crappy movies and actually gives a shit about his part, even if it is kinda ridiculous.

Michael Clarke Duncan as Barlog : Here’s the one casting that actually looks right, though again, the character is off from the game with the exception of him being Bison’s Chief Punching Officer. In addition to punching duties, however, Balrog is also apparently Bison’s mail and appointments boy. Of course its gotta be the black dude, right :/.

That One Guy From The Black Eyed Peas as Vega: Dude apparently got the job on the basis of having long hair and being famous. It works out alright as I think he says a grand total of three words the whole movie, and mostly is just there to look menacing and jump around a lot. No LEDs or Tron-type things on the Vega outfit here.

Chris Klein as Charlie Nash: Ya Rly.

Moon Bloodgood as Some Chick: I don’t even know who this is supposed to be in the Street Fighter world, I just think it’s great that her name is Moon Bloodgood. How does that even happen.

….
I dunno what else to say about this movie. It’s bad. 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Normally generous Audience only spots it 28%. Yep. Pretty bad.

Here’s some random screens and movies then:

Here’s the token Spinnan Berd Keeck. Again I gotta ask, why even try to be grounded in reality when she’s throwing fireballs later? Kristin Kreuk also kinda looks like a kid in her pajamas for a lot of this movie for some reason.

Most awkward lesbian seduction ever. Again I can’t help but feel the oversize pajamas look isn’t helping the scene.

Apparently even the common street muggers in Bangkok know complex twirly wire-fu. Makes a hard man humble indeed.

….

In Summary: No Raul Julia, no sale.

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