Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Capcom: Pulling People Right off the Street
Starring: Kristen Kreuk, Neal McDonough
By Tom Bevis
Only a few months into the year, and I may have seen the film that will top the Worst of 2009 list. Sometime last year, Capcom and [Studio] executives must have stumbled out into a blindly lit, thickly crowded Los Angeles street and screamed: “What wants to be in the next big-screen blockbuster?” The resulting turnout is a group of sour over-actors, spiced with a few stellar under-actors, and accented with a few people who, I’m sure, don’t even know they’re on film. Oh, and Michael Clarke Duncan.
The film is about, in short, a woman’s quest to free herself of her social bindings in order to rescue her father from a crippling crime syndicate that operates chiefly through real estate. After all, isn’t that every young girl’s dream? This girl is, of course, Chun-Li, as played by Kristen Kreuk. I’m not sure who she is, but I’ve heard she’s on Smallville or some other side-mark television show. She gets some help from an Interpol agent, the department of Gangland Homicide in Bangkok, and a very resourceful magician. Or is he a sorcerer? It’s hard to tell.
The film fails on almost every scale. The acting is unimaginably unbalanced, the story is stiff and contrived, and it doesn’t hold true to its roots within the Street Fighter franchise. I’m by no means a Street Fighter expert, but I seem to remember that game had something to do with combat. You know, two people getting together to duke it out. This is something we only see three or four times in the film, each time very short and anti-climactic. This film could just as easily be called OFFICE CHAT: CHUN-LI’S NEW FRIENDS or BORING STAKE OUT: WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?
This might be hard for some of you hardcore fans to take. Well, the film betrays its central audience almost immediately by centering the film around a non-icon character and exiling much of the franchise’s more recognized and loved characters. I’ve heard stories of two young men, dressed as Ryu and Ken (the only two characters present throughout the entire game series) walking into my local multiplex and leaving in tears. Why? Because their idols had been left out. On top of that, the entire film is orchestrated to a quirky things-are-going-to-get-better narration that feels like it’s being read out of a diary and would be more fitting in an episode of Sex and the City. “I knew what I had to do: go to Bangkok to save my father. BUT FIRST: shopping and Bangkok nightlight!” No, that’s not from the film. That’s actually a concise plot statement for the film. No joke.
I’m not one to banter about special effects, but this film has nothing else going for it. The effects from this film were clumsy and unaligned, almost as if they were added in frame-by-frame on Photoshop as a second thought, and as a result seem more at home in a straight-to-DVD production or a Sci-Fi original film. The fight scenes don’t have much more to boast about, each one boring, short, and without any resolution or climax.
Well, this film is a reboot. Kind of. Or is it? We can’t tell, but there was an earlier film, in 1994. This is probably the only thing the film has going for it, because the 1994 film starred Jean-Claude Van Damme. So this new one is better by default. My bottom line is this: I could hardly sit through this film. It took every ounce of willpower to sit through it, despite the fact that my four-year-old nephew was all but begging me to leave because even he was bored. So, go see something else, or play a video game. If all else fails, just stand on a street corner and watch people walk around you. You’ll get the same effect.