Directed By: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Kristen Kreuk, Chris Klien, Neal McDonough, Moon Bloodgood, Michael Clarke Duncan, Robin Shou
To tell the truth I was not expecting much from this movie beyond a couple of cool fight scenes and on that it kind of delivers. There are a couple of halfway decent fight scenes so in that respect I shouldn’t be disappointed with this movie. And maybe disappointed is not really the right word, disgusted, yes that’s the word I’m looking for. I’m disgusted with this movie.
The movie opens with to a touching scene of a middle aged man coaching a young girl at a grand piano with an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge dominating a picture window behind them. The narrator, our hero Chun Li, explains that it was her and her father’s dream that she would grow up to be a concert pianist. This idyllic life is interrupted when her father’s business interests require a move to Hong Kong, where the life is even more idyllic than San Francisco, at least until the thugs show up, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the thugs introduce themselves a young Chun Li spies her father, Xiang, practicing Wushu one morning and soon she and her father share a love of Wushu as well as the piano. A couple of years pass and Chun Li gets better at both of her hobbies and life is as near perfect as it can get.
Enter the thugs, one night Balrog, played by Michael Clarke Duncan, attacks Xiang, played by Edmund Chen, in their home. Xiang manages to fight him and a couple of generic thugs to a standstill until Balrog grabs an inquisitive Chun Li who had came downstairs to find out what was going on. Xiang fearing for his daughter’s safety gives up. Lucky for him the bad guys have a soft spot for little girls and she is left safe, if emotionally scarred, while Xiang is spirited away by the thugs.
Just as her father wishes Chun Li, played by Kristen Kreuk grows up to be a concert pianist, but just as she reaches adulthood she loses her mother as well and now must decide what she is going to do with her life. Upon the delivery of a mysterious scroll and a chat with a wise bookseller she puts all her belongings in storage, lays off the house staff and flies to Bangkok to “become one with the people” which is what the wise bookseller told her the scroll said she must do.
After wandering around Bangkok for an interminable amount of time without succumbing to the temptation of using her ATM card she finally has enough when she sees a group of young men attack an old man in an alley. She manages to best them but only barely and as she passes out in the alley she is collected by the mentor she has been searching for.
There is a tried and true formula for this kind of movie. The protagonist’s family is attacked by the antagonist while the protagonist is still a child. The protagonist grows up and with help from a mysterious mentor exacts his or her revenge upon the antagonist. I’m not faulting Street Fighter because it follows a formula. It’s a staple formula because it’s a basic and compelling story arc. All a half way decent storyteller has to do is plug in some details and interesting characters and like a screenwriting Mad Libs you’ve got a three out of five stars screenplay. That’s where Street Fighter falls down, there are no interesting characters and the details don’t make any sense.
It’s got some promise in the beginning, the scenes with the young Chun Li and Xiang are touching and I actually started to build up some hope that this movie might not be as bad as I feared, but as soon as Chun Li entered adulthood and the story had to move on the warts began to pop up. There are so many details in this movie that just don’t make any sense. Maybe there was extra material in the story line originally that explained some of the dumber stuff but as the movie currently runs there are just too many things happening that don’t add up. Some of it you can write off as typical movie baloney, like the movie star entrance of Charlie Nash an INTERPOL agent, played by Chris Klein, but others can’t be so easily written off. The villain, Bison, played by Neal McDonough is set up to be an evil little weasel, willing to sacrifice anything to grab as munch power and cash for himself. So what is his big caper in the movie? It’s a real estate deal. Sure he’s using extortion, kidnapping and has a private army of enforcers to help him pull it off, but at the heart of it he’s portrayed as a shady real estate developer.
Enough about the story, nobody watches a movie called Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li for the story. How are the fights? They are okay. There is some originality to the choreography but there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of energy put into them. The wirework was too obvious as well, not that you could see the wires, but it was obvious that wirework was being done. Other than that the acting was better than I expected. Everyone did a great job with the material they had. Chris Klein in particular had me almost believing in Charlie Nash by the end of the movie. Another positive thing I can say about the movie is that the cinematography was excellent. It made Bangkok look beautiful. I didn’t expect to like this movie, but I expected it to be bad for different reasons, oddly that made it slightly interesting, just not interesting enough to watch again.
The video is fine on the screener that Cinegeek received but since it was a screener that was reviewed and not an actual production DVD we can’t really comment on the video.
The audio is fine on the screener that Cinegeek received but again since it was a screener that was reviewed so we can’t really comment on the audio.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
There are a fair amount of extras on the screener DVD, a commentary and several behind the scenes featurettes, if the actual DVD has the same bonus materials as the screener then I would probably give it a seven out of ten, but since it is just a screener that is being reviewed we can’t really comment on the packaging and bonus features.
If you’re a diehard Street Fighter fan, I would still advise steering clear of; I almost said “this train wreck”, but a good train wreck is worth gawking at whether we like to admit it or not, I guess this movie’s biggest sin is that it’s boring. Any redeeming qualities in this film are completely engulfed in the inane plot. It’s not even bad enough to be a good bad movie.
Overall (Not an Average) 2/10
The Movie 2/10
The Video N/A
The Audio N/A
The Packaging and Bonus Features N/A
Overall (Not an Average) 2/10