By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
I still like the Jean-Claude Van Damme Street Fighter movie. It's really stupid but it's big silly fun making a story out of the game's colorful characters. It looks like the game with lavish sets and costumes. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li doesn't even have heart going for it.
Review: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li
The action is okay. They do the moves from the game and it looks like the actors are doing a lot of it. Kristen Kreuk looks fantastic kicking around with hair buns in a blue dress, but it's cut so much that you can barely see what's going on. It's a shame the best work isn't even highlighted.
I suppose the real question again is: why is there a story at all? The game is just plain fighting, so if you're really trying to cash in on the name recognition, it seems foolish to try to impress people with some concocted story. You're not going to win over any non gamers at this point. Does anyone even still play Street Fighter? It was already passé in 1994 because we were on to Mortal Kombat. I know they have Street Fighter IV coming out but has that brought back any fandom?
Anyway, the story they attempt is serious without sincerity and hammy without irony. They fill the movie with action clichés executed by people who don’t seem to understand: a kiss between tensely platonic partners, uber intent mythology flashbacks, the bad guy bragging about how unstoppable he is, a "surprise" escape from an elaborate plot of doom, running from an explosion.
None of the performances match. Some are trying to be straight, others are hamming it up, some don't care and some really don't seem to know what they're doing. I don't like to criticize acting because it's so personal, but there is one that is just embarrassing. Someone really should have stopped him, because they really are all going to laugh at him.
It's not even pretty like the 1994 version. That movie had wonderful eye candy. This movie's "gritty" look is just cheap and ugly. There are no sets and barely any costumes. They set up a sequel, but don't be so sure of that. There's not even an action freeze frame to close off the festivities. At least Van Damme can rest soundly knowing that his legacy remains intact.