60) Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) Dir: Andrzrej Bartkowiak Date Released: February 2009 Date Seen: February 28th, 2009 Rating: 1/5
As a childhood fan of Capcom’s Street Fighter fighting game franchise, I knew not to expect much from Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Whether it’s comics or movies, there has been little evidence to support the notion that the energy, simplicity or naïve seriousness of the games could be translated into any medium other than video games. I didn’t attend Chun-Li out of irony because I know there are much better ways to waste my money. I went because I was expecting something fun, brainless, over-the-top and colorful—see: Wilson Yip’s Dragon Tiger Gate (2006) for an example of what I’m talking about. What I got was probably about as inept as that stupid tween vampire movie.
Here’s the problem with adapting fighting games into movies: there’s no real plot and despite how many names and gimmicks the fighters have, none of them have any real character to speak of. They’re flashy, one-note action figures and if they look cool and have a special move that catches your eye, mission accomplished.
Chun-Li however doesn’t want to recognize that it's supposed to be vapid but well-meaning trash. Screenwriter Justin Marks has done a laughable job of translating the gaudiness of the series' barebones plot of do-gooder fighters on the trail of an evil guy with a red cape by turning the unbelievable into the unintentionally campy. M. Bison (Neal McDonough?!), the big bad guy of the series, thus gets turned into an evil international corporate goon that has separated his conscience into his daughter and hence now is free to literally use women as punching bags (I shit you not, this happens).
If anything, Marks tries so hard to be serious that he doesn’t even realize how hard he’s straining to produce a solid turd. Unlike superior fighting games adaptations like Paul W.S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat (1995) or Corey Yuen’s DOA: Dead or Alive (2006), Chun-Li has only a scant few satisfying cameos and absolutely no hyper-glitzy fight scenes, just creatively constipated and spastically edited Transporter-esque fight scenes. They’re not just silly, they’re boring.
That having been said, a good Street Fighter movie is possible, but it’s just not probable that it’ll ever be made. The day when a creative team that realizes that their goal is to focus on giving the fan what he (sorry, ladies) wants—competent fight scenes, minimal plot, boobies, super powers and lots and lots of cameos—is a long way off. Until then, we’ll always have Future Cops (1993).