Sunday, March 1, 2009

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Action Aplenty in Abysmal Sequel

In 1994, the popular computer game Street Fighter was adapted to the big screen as an incoherent concatenation of poorly-choreographed, martial arts action starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The only reason that otherwise forgettable disaster is even a footnote in the annals of cinematic history is because, sadly, it turned out to be the swan song of Raul Julia who passed away prior to the picture’s release at the tender age of 54.
Since the original bombed at the box office, one must wonder what might have prompted a studio to greenlight a sequel 15 years later, especially when you see that the results are equally-abysmal. This unmitigated mess of a movie was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die) who decided to overhaul the cast entirely, starting with Kristin Kreuk in the title role of Chun-Li. Other substitutes include Neal McDonough as the diabolical Bison, along with Michael Clarke Duncan and the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo as his sadistic henchman, Balrog and Vega, respectively.
At the point of departure, we learn via flashback narrated by Chun-Li that, when she was a little girl, her father (Edmund Chen) was kidnapped by some creeps in the Shadalao (pigeon English for “Shadow Law”) crime syndicate. Fast-forward to the present when we inexplicably find Chun-Li somehow an accomplished karate master and en route to Thailand where, rumor has it, her daddy has remained kidnapped in the clutches of Bison and his cohorts all these years.
Her arrival proves to be timely, since the merciless madman recently hosted a “Last Supper” during which he beheaded the boss of every competing crime family in Bangkok. With the Shadalooo gang on the verge of gaining complete control of the waterfront, it falls to Chun-Li, in league with Interpol Agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein), local detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood) and a secret society of ninjas led by a mysterious man named Gen (Robin Shou) to save the day.
The revenge-fueled plotline subsequently seizes on the flimsiest of excuses to embark on the ensuing series of clumsily-orchestrated fight scenes, punctuated by sloppily-executed stunts, chase sequences, pyrotechnics and detonations. Unfortunately, only diehard fans of the legendary video franchise are likely to keep track of the body-count in the high attrition-rate enterprise.
For as the butt-kicking heroine sets about exacting her vengeance, the epic battle of good versus evil is so undermined by cheesy special effects and corny dialogue that the spectacle adds up to an experience that is best described as laughable. And to top it all off, this insult to the intelligence even has the nerve to end on a cliffhanger setting the stage for yet another sequel.
Oh well, at least after this fiasco I only need 9 more movies for my next 10 Worst List.

Poor (0 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sensuality and martial arts violence.
In Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, Russian, Gaelic and English with subtitles.
Running time: 97 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox

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