March 18, 2009
Review in a Hurry: Remember how you believed they couldn't possibly make a cheesier adaptation of the Street Fighter video games than 1994's Jean-claude Van Damme campfest? Wrong! But here's the thing-Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is indeed terrible, but in kind of an awesome way.
The Bigger Picture: Director Andrzej Bartkowiak made the last good Steven Seagal movie (2001's Exit Wounds), briefly turned DMX into a credible action star by pairing him with Jet Li for two movies...then screwed up the big-screen version of Doom so heinously that he should never have been let near a video-game license again.
But hey, Sega keeps letting Uwe Boll ruin their adaptations; why should Capcom be any different? (Except you may end up wishing Boll were in charge. At least he would have woefully miscast someone like Meat Loaf, and created an awkward "twist" unhappy ending.)
The Street Fighter games tell of a karate-fighting twosome named Ryu and Ken who enter martial-arts tournaments, so of course both movie adaptations have pretty much ignored all of that.
Here, the focus is on Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk), a concert pianist turned wushu master, who must avenge her father's kidnapping at the hands of an inexplicably Irish-accented Bangkok crime lord named Bison (Neil McDonough), who cleverly conceals his evil syndicate via a front organization called Esperanto.
Where to even begin with this one?
For starters, there's the fact that Chun-Li's family name spontaneously changes midmovie on her family tombstone, from Xiang to Huang. There's Chris Klein's woodentastic channeling of Point Break-era Keanu as an Interpol agent. Chun-Li's attempted lesbian seduction of Bison's henchwoman. Asian kung-fu master Gen (Robin Shou) mispronouncing the name "Ryu." Screenwriter Justin Marks' reliance on fortune-cookie platitudes ("You're hurting me!" "No! You're hurting yourself!").
But perhaps worst of all is that the movie doesn't even have the courage of its campiness. If you're going to give Vega (rapper Taboo) his metal mask and claw, why skimp on the snake tattoo and matador tights? Why is Bison wearing a suit instead of a red military getup? At least the 1994 movie tried to give the goofy outfits a reason for being. Oh, and Chun-Li? Guile called-he wants his trademark 360 flash kick back.
The 180-a Second Opinion: The fight choreography, at least, is decent. And like we said, the movie's awfulness is amazing and hilarious in its own way-someone will likely have devised a drinking game for it by the time you read this.