Posted by: asianfilmreviews | July 3, 2009

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


Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

Cast: Kristin Kreuk, Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Robin Shou, Moon Bloodgood, Josie Ho (何超儀), Taboo, Michael Clarke Duncan, Cheng Pei-Pei (鄭佩佩)

I really wasn’t planning to actually write a review of this film, or even admit that I saw it, but while watching it, it became painfully obvious that the movie is actually in keeping with this blog’s intent – to review, critique, and analyze Asian and Asian-related entertainment. And since this movie features a number of Asian and Asian American stars, was shot in parts of Hong Kong and Bangkok, and features choreography from Dion Lam (林迪安), then I thought it only logical to voice my opinions. So yeah, consider this a review – a review that can be summed up in one short phrase: this movie sucks.

I’m pretty sure you already knew that, though. Luckily for me in reviewing this, the story is pretty easy to sum up. Bison (Neal McDonough) is a very Lex Luthor-esque villain, obsessed with obtaining valuable land in east Asia by kidnapping landowners and/or their families and forcing them to sign their property over to him in exchange for not killing them. Oh, and he has no conscience. When he was younger, in his Gary Busey look-a-like days, he had a young wife… from whose womb he literally ripped their baby , thus allowing him to transfer his conscience to his newborn daughter (you know, if I squint hard enough, I think I can actually see you laughing). So Bison kidnaps Chun-Li’s (Kristin Kreuk) dad, a well-to-do business man and wushu/tai-chi practitioner, when she is just a little girl so that he can……… I really don’t know. Besides, none of it matters. When she is older, Chun-Li receives a magic scroll which tells her to go to Bangkok and look for some guy with a spiderweb tatoo on his hand. From him, she’ll learn to hone her skills and defeat Bison and his cronies.

Sucks. Sucks. Sucks. There is no limit to how many times you can say that this movie sucks. It sucks. Rather than even attempt to wrestle any sort of meaning from this film as I usually try to do with anything I watch, I’m just going to amuse myself with a list of reasons why I think this film sucks:

  1. Chris Klein – Klein plays Interpol Agent Charlie Nash, an overly-enunciating, scruffy looking, and frankly stupid and inept cop who spends more time ogling partner Moon Bloodgood’s abundant cleavage than doing anything close to what he should be doing. Nash out!
  2. Moon Bloodgood – As a slightly more feminine Laurel to Klein’s Hardy, Bloodgood is every bit as pointless. For the audience, she shows up to accompany her breasts whenever they are in front of the camera, but for the story, she is just there to deflect Nash’s constant come-ons and quickly take a bullet when she’s finally involved in the action. What a star.
  3. Taboo – I’m sorry, but if you claim that acting is your “first love,” then perhaps you shouldn’t take a role in a disastrous video game-to-movie adaptation in which there is nothing even remotely compelling about your character. Thanks to Taboo, an apparent black belt in ninjitsu (but you’d never know from watching the film; perhaps he studied under Joe Don Baker), Vega looks like an incompetent clown with claws straight from a cracker jack box. But who can forget his classic line, “I’ll cut you, bitch!” Man, sometimes sarcasm is painful.
  4. Wasted Asian stars – Cheng Pei-Pei and Josie Ho. What were you both thinking?? I seriously want hand-written letters of apology.
  5. Conscience-transferring – Seriously, this scene about put me into a coma. Well, not really, but all I could do is put my head into my hands and try to convince myself that human beings are generally not this bad at telling a story on film. But leave it to Andrzej Bartkowiak and Michael Bay, both with amazingly stupid films out this year, to rob me of any hope I had left for the future of mankind.
  6. Phony mysticism – Don’t give me this “it’s based on a video game” defense. Dubious source material is no excuse for making a crappy film of any kind. If you’re going to make a film that takes place in the objectively real world, then you should abide by both the laws of physics as well as socially constructed norms. This film cares about neither, so the characters seem to exist in some sort of vacuum where the outside world is something they never see or touch. Almost like they’re on a movie set or something…
  7. Chris Klein – Did I say how bad he is? Because he really is this bad. Expect a Razzy or two to go his way next year.
  8. Horrible action choreography – Poor Dion Lam has done better. A lot better. While the original film actually had some decent choreography at times, Chun-Li is an over-edited mess of uninspired moves, horrendous wirework, and over-the-top lameness.
  9. Booty dancing and lesbian seduction – I can’t imagine actually watching this in the theater with other humans. A painfully embarrassing scene to watch, I think I may have actually covered my eyes with my hands, or at least began staring at the ceiling fan above my head. In the scene, Chun-Li must seduce Cantana (Josie Ho), Bison’s cronie and apparent lesbian. How does she do this? By approaching her in a club and dancing a little too close for comfort. Some of you might think this as reason enough to watch the film, but you would be wrong. There is nothing at all sexy about this. It just hurts.

This could really go on for a long time, but I’m honestly sick of thinking about this movie. A friend of mine actually saw this in the theater, and when it came out on video just a short while ago, he insisted my friends and I rent it so he would not be the only person to experience its untold pain. We all came to the conclusion, as did everyone else I’m sure, that the Steven E. de Souza directed Street Fighter from 1994 is by far the better film. I saw that Van Damme-fest TWICE in the movie theater (and am a proud owner of the DVD), thinking it was the coolest thing ever to hit the cinema. Of course my tastes have changed now, but I have new respect for it because it at least took an admittedly silly universe and tried to squeeze a story out of it, complete with essential story elements such as characters and backstory. It also has a song by one of my favorite bands, the Japanese duo Chage and Aska. So I salute the Muscles from Brussels!

Can you handle the Van Dammeage?

Can you handle the Van Dammeage?

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, however, is easily a contender for worst film of the year and highly deserving of its critical bashing and commercial failure. The actors are terrible, the script could have been written by a cat walking across a keyboard, and there is zero fun to be had. See it if you dare, but I advise you to save your money. Nash out!

Nash out!

Nash out!


Responses

  1. Sounds like one of those flicks that is so bad I can’t help but watch it. As soon as I heard that Kristin Kreuk was in it I knew what we’d be getting. Why do they think that just because someone is nice to look at that they’ll carry an entire movie?

  2. It’s bizarre, isn’t it? I was hoping it would at least be dumb fun, but it wasn’t at all. And after watching it, it’s difficult to not generalize Hollywood’s ineptitude in focusing on style over substance or selling gratuitous amounts of sex just for the hell of it.

  3. I think that too many times in Hollywood it’s the money they can make over what type of film they can make. I guess they figure with the right title people will just line up to hand over their cash. You’d think that in times like these they would try to present some great films instead of cash grabs.

  4. Precisely. It is all about the money. For example, with Transformers 2 making oodles of cash, Paramount’s Adam Goodman officially shut down Paramount Vintage, the specialty division of Paramount that produced films such as Babel, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood. I’m certainly not opposed to commercial cinema in general, but… is that all the studios plan to offer?

  5. I think the worst thing about Transformers 2 making tons of cash is that they’ll probably let him go ahead with part 3. HAHA! It’s obvious that the amount of movies that are smart compared to shiny is out of balance.

    Just look at all the great Asian films that recieve terrible American remakes. Same goes for horror movies. They start as great movies so why can’t they stay that way instead of turning into mindless summer fun.

    I love the summer blockbuster as much as the next guy but I’m also hoping for an intelligent movie at the same time.


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