Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li

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?

street_1

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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7 Responses to “Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li”

  1. DavidMc Says:

    And still a better martial arts movie than Redbelt. Sigh

  2. Danielle Says:

    Ah, but is it as bad as catwoman??

  3. jess the joker Says:

    eheh !! really good D i laugh quiet a few times

  4. ZextEffomesox Says:

    Awesome… really stunning subject. I’m going to blog about it likewise!

  5. Andrew Says:

    Did you really think it was going to be any good?

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