Archive for October, 2009

Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li

October 30, 2009

Here goes for my first proper new blog and I’ve decided to aim low, rather than reach for the stars. Aim high and you risk going over people’s heads. Aim low and you’re sure to hit something.

Back in 1994 Steven de Souza attempted to bring the hugely successful Street Fighter II video game to the big screen with a movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. It tanked at the US box office because it was, simply put, more painful than getting splinters under all ten of your fingernails at once. On paper it should have been a no-brainer. The game is about a globe-spanning fighting tournament, so just give the people what they want – lots of fists meeting faces at high speed. Mortal Kombat was a hit because it did precisely that. Instead Street Fighter delivered campy humour and action scenes with less punch than a kitten wearing mittens.

street_13smallThis year cinematographer-turned-director-turned-human-bagel Andrzej Bartkowiak decided to take another swing at the franchise. The result was Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. It sank without trace in cinemas in the US and here in the UK it was very, very quietly snuck onto DVD this October. I snagged a review copy, hoping to be pleasantly surprised and firm in my conviction that it had to be better than the de Souza/Van Damme debacle. Sucks to be me.

The basic plot is that Chun Li (Kristin Kreuk) learns Wu Shu from her pop Xiang, who is kidnapped by ruthless entrepreneur Bison (Neal McDonough) because Xiang has really good connections in the business world that Bison wants to exploit. Yeah, nothing opens doors of corporate finance like kidnapping. Anyhoo, Interpol and the Thai police are after Bison, in the form of Nash (Keanu-Reeves-Lite Chris Klein) and Maya (Moon Bloodgood), whose principal role in the police department seems to be to distract her male colleagues with her plentiful cleavage. Where all these insanely hot lady cops in the real world? Remember Kelly Hu in Martial Law? She looked like a supermodel. It’s hard to imagine Kelly Hu and Moon Bloodgood scarfing down donuts in a cruiser, waiting for dispatch to tell them about a prowler outside the old folks home. If real cops looked like that, arrest rates would sky rocket overnight. Who wouldn’t want Kelly Hu to cuff them? Resist arrest? I’d be pleading for a little bad cop action. Sorry. Off-subject there. Back to the movie. Sigh.

Robin Shou as Gen

Shave? Are you mad? I killed a man for this moustache!

For reasons I have mercifully suppressed, Chun Li receives an ancient scroll that leads her to Thailand and martial arts master Gen (Robin Shou), who appears to have won John Waters’ moustache in a fight to the death. He spouts meaningless platitudes as he trains Chun Li in the deadly art of catching marbles. Imagine the fabulous Echo Game scene from House of Flying Daggers. Now imagine it made for about five bucks. There you go. “Only in the dark do all colours become one,” explains Gen. I think you’ll find, Mr Science, that you can’t see colours in the dark because your eyes switch from using their cones, which read colour, to their rods, which do not. After some talking and running around and more plunge necklines from Maya, stuff explodes in a manner that screams “We don’t want to spend a lot of money here” and the bad guys meet their sticky ends in underwhelming fashion.

Back in 1973, Enter The Dragon gleefully mangled Chinese culture at the hands of an American director. Three decades later, we have apparently made precisely no progress. Chun Li wears a black Chinese outfit to her mother’s funeral. In Chinese terms, wearing black to a funeral is akin to wearing a red mini-skirt to a funeral in the West. The Chinese wear white for funerals. For Christmas sake, Bartkowiak, read a freaking book or something. This stuff is public knowledge.

For some reason, the filmmakers decided to make crime-lord and businessman Bison into an Irishman in this movie. What the hell kind of Irish name is Bison? Where in Ireland are there any bison? Do they graze in secret upon the fertile plains of County Clare?

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Chun Li relaxes in Studio 54 in 1978, just as disco reaches fever pitch

Dion Lam handled the fight choreography and showers himself and his cast in hot, fresh shame. Kristin Kreuk is stunt-doubled for most of her action scenes, which is probably a good thing in health and safety terms as that girl is so skinny that if the acting thing ever peters out she can join any passing circus as the Human Skeleton and never want for work for the rest of her days. Somebody buy the girl a cheeseburger before she becomes two-dimensional. When Chun Li wears a blue dress to go nightclubbing, Kreuk looks like a kite in a wig. The stylists try to give Kreuk Chun Li’s buns in her hair but she looks like she went to the hair salon and asked for the Princess Leia special circa Episode IV: A New Hope.

Michael Clarke Duncan looks like he can scarcely keep from laughing as Balrog, while the majestic Cheng Pei Pei is wasted in a pointless cameo. Vega looks like the lost member of Slipknot. Excuse me Mr Vega, Joey Jordison called. He wants his mask back. From the clunky expository voice-over, nonsensical plot and creaky acting, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li suggests that Kreuk may have been a tad hasty in her departure from Smallville. A great video game begets another craptacular movie. Have we learned nothing from Resident Evil: Apocalypse? Well, I suppose we learned that even in a nightmarish zombie-infested landscape, Milla Jovovich is never short of lip gloss. L’Oreal – Because You’re Worth It. And Also You’re Killing Zombies By Blowing Their Brains Out The Back Of Their Rotting Skulls. But Damn, You Look Good.

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Sex And The City – The Sequel

October 30, 2009

I’m going to cheat slightly with my first entry here on wordpress and re-publish a post about Sex And The City that I first wrote on my rather obscure myspace blog. In fairness, there is a SATC sequel in the works, so let’s just pretend I wrote this about that and then everybody gets want they want. Or at least I get what I want. And that’s what really counts.

As the single women and gay men among you will already know, 2008 will bring the long awaited big screen debut of Sex and the City, following seven never-knowingly-under-dressed seasons of the TV show. I feel the producers of said film have missed the boat by not inviting me to handle the script for the movie. I am literally orgasming with ideas.

First of all, I wouldn’t set the film just after the TV show concluded, but twenty years in the future, allowing the audience to catch up on what the ladies have been up to in their twilight years.

Carrie – As we saw at the end of the final season, Carrie made the common mistake of leaving safe, clean, friendly New York for dark, dangerous, plague-infested Paris. There, she discovered with horror that people didn’t speak English, they spilled their overpriced wine on her Manolos, and there wasn’t a low-carb bagel to be found anywhere. Older but wiser for the experience, Carrie returned to New York and the welcoming member of Big, which is where the show concluded. In my follow-on, Carrie quit writing her regular newspaper column to devote all her energy to a book about her Continental sojourn, the widely ignored Paris: City of the Damned. When that was an ignoble flop, she found work writing morale and paranoia boosting pamphlets for the Department of Homeland Security, including such classics as American: The Language of Freedom and The European Menace: Why I’ll Never Buy Gaultier Again. Even as she nears retirement, no one has been kind enough to explain to Carrie that Big’s commitment phobia springs from the simple fact that he already has a wife and six children in Los Angeles and has already done hard time for polygamy. He’s always tried to pass off the prison tattoos as tribal art, although the “Property Of Stan” emblazoned across his buttocks has always been hard to explain and he changes the subject when Carrie brings that up by saying he read something about the French trying to get the UN Security Council to ban the speaking of English.

Samantha – Beating cancer at the end of season seven only served to inflame Samantha’s turbo-charged libido but now that she’s collecting a pension, she’s finding it much harder to attract the toy boys. As a result, Samantha has taken the unusual career step of becoming a porn star, appearing in such niche market titles as MILFS On The Make Volume 16, and Granny’s Got Back. When the porn work fails to satisfy her pathological need for stimulation, she breaks into old folks homes at night and manually pleasures the residents. On the mornings after her nocturnal ministrations, staff in the retirement homes find their male residents unusually relaxed and compliant, talking of how their dead wives came to them in their sleep last night. Only they looked much older than they remembered.

Miranda – The angriest woman in a city of angry people, Miranda is crippled by the alimony payments from her four failed marriages, and the court-ordered damages for mental cruelty she has to cough up every month to her traumatised ex-spouses and people who tried to engage her in conversation in elevators when she has having a bad day. Forbidden by law from ever dating another man, following the landmark case of The State of New York versus That Crazy Bitch, Miranda is experimenting with lesbianism as she searches for new people to alienate. She particularly enjoys fisting, but refuses to use lubricants or give her partners any advance warning of her intentions, preferring to launch surprise attacks while they are either asleep, recovering from surgery or waiting for the bus.

Charlotte –The neediest of the four friends, Charlotte has never quite gotten over the death of her husband Harry, fourteen years ago. She’s still wearing head-to-toe black and fills every conversation with awkward references to her deceased spouse. “Oh, we’re going for Italian? Harry loved Italian food.” “Oh, you’re going to the bathroom? Harry loved it when I pooped on his chest”, and so on. Harry isn’t actually dead, but he’s living under an assumed name in Hoboken, New Jersey, just to escape Charlotte’s cloying attentions. Unable to use his credit cards or bank account for fear of rousing Charlotte’s suspicions, Harry isn’t just living under an assumed name, but also in a cardboard box under a bridge. He tells his new homeless friends that while eating out of dumpsters, sleeping outside during New Jersey winters and living in your own filth have their downside, at least he has room to breathe and there’s no one telling him he can’t sit naked on his own goddamn couch.

So there’s my pitch. Come on Darren Star (if that is your real name), you can’t tell me what you’ve got planned is better than that? Call me, let’s do lunch.