Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Review

"Wait... weren't you Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat? What crappy video game film adaptation is this?"

"Wait... weren't you Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat? What crappy video game film adaptation is this supposed to be again?"

Signs that the movie you’re watching is probably not going to be good:
1) It wasn’t screened for critics.
2) It was based on a video game.
3) The biggest star in the movie is listed last in the credits.
4) One of the Black Eyed Peas is cast as a major character in it.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li has all of these strikes against it and more. Come along with me and find out more, won’t you?

As its title suggests, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is based on the Street Fighter series of video games, and it tells the origin story of the Chinese female protagonist, Chun-Li. The mythology of Street Fighter games 1 and 2 and the Street Fighter Alpha series is cribbed for the script, and it does its best to be as accurate and true to the mythos as possible. Trouble is, the story wasn’t very good to begin with. Let’s be honest; Street Fighter is a fighting game (duh), and the story to a fighting game is little more than justification for characters to beat the ever-loving hell out of each other. In the context of a game, the story’s at least serviceable — your character roughs up some morons until they’re all gone, then you fight the Big Bad. As far as the movie’s concerned,… to say the story is lacking is a laughable understatement.

The plot of the movie does double duty by being both nonsensical and barely existent. What little story there is is basically told through rushed, expository dialogue, and there are plot holes out the ass. Characters act to only advance the story with little logic or motive behind any of their actions. Why did M. Bison kidnap Chun-Li’s father? Why is Chun-Li following the cryptic message of an ancient scroll that was sent to her from an anonymous stranger? Why in the hell are agents of Interpol listening to the advice of Chun-Li — a former concert pianist and current vigilante — in how to trap one of the most dangerous men in the world? Why am I watching this shit?
Unfortunately, the movie never answers any of these questions.

Okay, so the plot blows. A lot. But hey, it’s a martial arts movie, and the plot doesn’t have to be that good as long as the action is decent!  …So is the action decent?
No, it’s not.
Each action setpiece is brimming with crappy wire-fu that would have felt dated 5 years ago. Not only that, but the fight scenes are shot in that “Oh no, I’m going to vomit!” shaky-cam, quick-cut bullcrap that we’ve seen so much in films recently. Many of the action scenes end abruptly, which, given how much they suck, is almost welcomed. Chun-Li’s fight with Vega — a masked madman who is built up in the movie to be some insane badass of the likes of Darth Maul — is a scene of particular note because it clocks in at under a single minute. Swing, miss, kick, punch, stomp, over.

Across the board, the acting is pretty abysmal. Kristen Kreuk does her darnedest with the material given to her, and it’s pretty sad to see that she’s the only one treating this movie like it’s worth a damn. In stark contrast, Chris Klein is hilariously miscast as Interpol agent Charlie Nash, and he plays the character like the bastard love child of Christian Slater and David Caruso. He snarks and scowls his way through every scene and tries to be cool and snide, but because it’s Chris Klein, the doofus from American Pie and Election, he simply comes across like a parody of every young, brash, impetuous cop you’ve ever seen in every hackneyed, piece-of-crap, B-grade cop movie ever made. It’s gloriously bad.  Think Bill Pullman’s character from Ruthless People, except he’s unintentionally funny.
Also, Neal McDonough plays M. Bison with an Irish accent despite the fact that the character grew up as an orphan in Thailand. I still can’t figure that one out.

Basically, the movie is garbage from top to bottom. I leave you now with quotes I actually said during the movie.
“SHUT UP AND FIGHT SOMEONE!”
“I guess Michael Clarke Duncan is playing the world’s strongest secretary.”
“Oh great. More scenes with these two idiots. Just what this movie needed.”
“That’s… it? That was the whole fight? Well, that was mercifully short.”
“This movie’s starting to get good! …Oh, goddammit, no!”

Question: What do you get when you get rid of the camp and fun of the first Street Fighter film, but leave in all the fireball-throwing nonsense, the bad acting and the plot holes?
Answer: This bullshit movie.
2/10

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6 Responses to Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Review

  1. Darby says:

    I’m curious – what did the movie get the 2 points for? Did Kristen Kreuk do a topless scene or something?

    Did the movie at least have mindless, horrible violence, like killing somebody by beating them to death with their own leg, or ripping their spines out of their bodies? I could see Michael Clarke Duncan pulling one of those off.

  2. Boone says:

    Well, I gave The Spirit a 1 out of 10, and admittedly, this film was a (little) bit more competently made than that one. Although it’s better than The Spirit, that’s still like saying that dog shit isn’t as smelly as elephant shit — it’s all shit. And you bring up a good point; Kristen Kreuk is easy on the eyes and she’s the central character, so there’s plenty of easiness to be had.

    For Street Fighter fans, there’s a lot of little touches and nods to the games that they’ll pick up on, like that Chun-Li trains in crane style (like the game) and she pulls off most of her signature moves at one point or another during the film (most notably the Spinning Bird Kick and her Kioken fireball). They also establish Gen as her trainer (from Street Fighter Alpha 2) and mention that he used to be a bad guy (from Street Fighter 1). For non-Street Fighter fans, this means jack shit to you, so it won’t sway you at all in liking the film.

    As for the violence, it’s PG-13, so there’s no goriness… except for a scene of one of the villains ripping a baby out through the mother’s stomach. No, I’m not joking — that happens. Luckily, the scene is shown in silhouette and mostly implied. The justification for the scene even being in there is insane and complicated and not worth explaining here.
    Michael Clarke Duncan does, however, beat someone silly with an oxygen tank, which was kind of neat. Kind of.

  3. Fortress Guy says:

    Clever review. I like the way you summed it up too. The Van Damme movie was fun in a glorious campy way. And the characters were pretty good in the resemblance department.

    Outside of Balrog and Vega, I saw little resemblance in this movies characters to the franchise. And I too found myself wondering what the heck I was doing seeing another seen with those two police stooges.

    The promise of this movie was not equaled by the result sadly.

    Here is our take on it with lots of pics and a few bits if wit if you are interested:

    http://fortresstakes.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/street-fighter-the-legend-of-chun-li-2009/

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