Thursday, April 1, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #44, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is the long-awaited reboot of the glorious Street Fighter film franchise. You may remember the original 1994 version as the fitting final feature film of Raul Julia and for John-Claude Van Damme's tour de force performance as Colonel Guile. The producer (note: also executive producer on Battlefield Earth) decided to make this new version because his kids liked the video game and wanted to see a movie of it. Always a good idea to trust kids' judgement with millions of dollars. This one focuses on the female fighter from Hong Kong as she tries to resuce her father from a crime syndicate in Bangkok. The syndicate's leader, Bison, is also being investigated by the Bangkok police and Interpol as the cops join forces with Chun-Li to save the city.

There are two cardinal rules regarding a movie based on a video game. Such movies should never:
  • A) change the plot of the game in any way.
  • B) exist.

Unfortunately, SF: TLoC-L breaks both of these rules. At the end, there's a setup for a sequel (oh, please, happen!) that involves a martial arts tournament, but the plot of this movie might as well be any crappy action film that just has some familiar character names plugged in. Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) plays the title character ("Chun-Li", not "Street Fighter") and is entirely unbelievable as an action star. Also, even though Chun-Li is supposed to be from Hong Kong and they throw some dumb bone about how she was born in San Francisco so her English is perfect, Kreuk is from Vancouver and her Canadian accent pops up weirdly in one of her many poorly-read voice-overs. Neal McDonough (Minority Report) plays Bison. McDonough is from Massachusetts, but seems to have some sort of bad Irish accent in the film, even though his daughter turns out to be Russian. Best to not worry about it. Michael Clarke Duncan continues his ability to show up in crappy films by playing Balrog. Some guy from the Black Eyed Peas plays Vega and thankfully he's barely in it.

That's it for the video game characters, but some extra attention needs to be paid to the "work" done by Chris Klein as the Interpol agent. Klein was pretty good as the goofy nice guy in American Pie and Election. Sure, he was in the awful Rollerball remake, but I don't remember him being particularly bad in it. None of that could have prepared me for this! Klein plays the stereotypical bad-ass cop. He has stubble, but they seemed to have neglected makeup because the actual beard never grew in and it mostly looks like he's trying to grow a mustache. He puts on a New York accent (he's from Illinois), but only intermittently, and somehow a little Southern twang works its way in at the end of the movie. After seeing Battlefield Earth, I had proclaimed that John Travolta's performance in that was the worst acting performance in the history of cinema. Klein seriously challenges that notion. The movie is pretty boring, but every Klein scene is laugh-out-loud fantastic. In fact, someone did an homage to Klein's performance:

Video game movies... Just remember as you see all of the trailers for Jake Gyllenhaal's Prince of Persia that no video game movie has ever worked. I'm not quite sure why that's the case, because some of the storytelling in games has reached the level of at least weak movie scripts, but it's the way things are. Maybe some day there will be a hidden treasure in Guitar Hero: The Movie or Paper Mario: The Legend of Princess Toadstool. Maybe some day...

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