Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
- Street Date:
- June 30th, 2009
- Reviewed by:
- Nate Boss
- Review Date: 1
- July 16th, 2009
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 96 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
I spent countless hours in my youth playing various incarnations of the 'Street Fighter' game franchise. From the original, to the blockbuster second entry, including the Championship Edition, Super version with new fighters, and the Turbo and Hyper Fighting Editions, there was nary an installment that I didn't enjoy for the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) tweaks to the formula. For a 2D fighting game, the simplicity and ease of play, especially in multi-player modes, held infinite replay value.
I didn't mind learning each character's movesets. I didn't mind the character names being flipped around (more on that later). I didn't even mind lining up a year's worth of laundry money on the dash of an arcade machine to designate my turn. What I did mind was the abomination that was the original 'Street Fighter' movie, which opened the floodgates for a parade of awful screen adaptations of other games that had piggybacked on the success of the 'Stret Fighter' series.
Fast forward 15 years. 'Street Fighter IV' has hit the home console market with much hype, and to dampen the spirits of fans worldwide, another misguided abomination of a 'Street Fighter' film has arrived like a roundhouse to the face, reminding us all that we can't have our cake and eat it too.
'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li' follows (you guessed it) the first lady of video games, Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) herself, as she makes mince meat of the evil Shadaloo, led by Bison (nope, not M. Bison, Bison. Like the buffalo. For sake of convenience, let's give the letter a name, Marcos.). Seems "Marcos" (Neal McDonough) has been a busy boy, having kidnapped Chun-Li's father, slain his rival Shadaloo gang bosses, and spread a wave of crime through Bangkok, the first step of a nefarious, self centered plan.
Chun-Li isn't left alone to fight against the man who has caused the city to run amok with criminal activity. She is to be trained by Gen (Robin Shou) to harness her abilities from raw anger to controlled whoopass. Interpol officer Charlie Nash (a horribly cast Chris Klein) and detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood) are also on the case to put "Marcos," and his evil corporation down for good. But, get this..."Marcos" isn't alone either, as his right hand man Balrog (the perfectly cast Michael Clarke Duncan) is there to do the dirty work, and when things get out of hand, the Shadaloo "insurance policy" assassin named Vega (Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas) comes in to wreak havoc. A showdown is coming...
OK, I have to say it, this is a mess! Sure, the games have been a bit garbled up from the get go as well, with the "boss villains" names all being switched due to a potential copyright infringement issue (let's just say naming a boxer M. Bison is a wee bit too close to Mike Tyson), but the names of the characters seem to be about the only thing that is consistent here.
Characters don't look the slightest but like their game counterparts, which was never a real issue in the first 'Street Fighter' film adaptation. Chun-Li never sports her famous attire, and only has her hair bunned in a single sequence. "Marcos" forgoes his evil red jumpsuit and cape for a more discrete, stylin' look, while Vega, poor Vega, got mangled beyond belief. No longer the pretty boy wearing the mask to protect his good looks, he has been reduced to an ugly one dimensional chump, lacking in both narcissism and the ever important "ominous feel" a villain of his caliber should possess. Hell, even his claw is on the wrong hand! Sure, the outfits in the game wouldn't make sense in real life, but it's evident that the film just doesn't give a rat's ass about the source material and its extensive history.
Fanboy decrying aside, there is much more wrong with this production. Logic never enters the picture, and its partner, coherency, is also absent. For example: In a sequence late in the film, Balrog performs a sneak attack, punching Gen from behind, before busting out his strap to try to finish the martial arts expert off. Why the hell didn't he just sneak up, blow his brains out, and be done with it? We're not exactly talking about an honorable man, here. Why can only Chun-Li stop Bis...I mean, "Marcos?" This is never explained. My theory is simple: it has something to do with her name being in the title of the film. This isn't 'Street Fighter: The Legend of Charlie Nash,' is it? That's right, it isn't...even though it should be.
The bad acting found in this film deserves a review of its own, but I'll keep it brief. Chris Klein. Yes, that's a full sentence, and a full thought, really, as his name is synonymous with poor goofball acting. His take on Nash is an absolute riot, a scene-stealer for all the wrong reasons, pulling you away from the rest of the movie. McDonough also provides a perplexing performance. You know his motivations in the film, yet you never believe them, partially due to the unconvincing acting (also due to the script). Kreuk is convincing in her role, possibly the only semi-decent acting in the film.
Sadly, the unintentional comedy of the first film adaptation is also missing, as this installment succeeds in taking itself seriously, ruining all camp value, and turning the film into just another run of the mill action flick. Bad acting does not equal comedy, sadly, otherwise there would have been comic gold to be found here. Sure, the dialogue is still awful, but there are no lines so bad that they become good again. As a whole, 'The Legend of Chun-Li' is a superior film to its predecessor, but that isn't saying much. Hollywood, take note. Fighting games should be just that. Games.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li' comes to Blu-ray with an AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1080P transfer in the 2.35:1 widescreen frame. A solid picture is the result, though there will be no commentator to pronounce "perfect!" at the end of this bout.
Skin tones are natural and appropriately varied. Backgrounds are deep, creating a believable three dimensional look. Colors in the Bangkok backdrop (especially the wide range of clothing styles) are vibrant. Contrast is sharp, blacks are respectable and never overbearing, while delineation is strong, with no detail lost in the shadows.
As said above, perfection is not to be found here. There's a smattering of digital noise that shows up from time to time, especially in darker shots, that can make skies, walls, and even roads have a bit of a blue pixelated dance. Grain levels are never too strong, but they don't stay consistent, with many shots sporting a sharp crystal clear aesthetic, while others have a bit of a muddied look. Lastly, I spotted some light halos from time to time, not enough to cry foul, but enough to make note of.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li's sound design is full and powerful, adjectives that cannot be used to describe the film itself. A word of warning: playing this disc will rock your socks off, and a will probably ellicit a few complaints from any neighbors within earshot.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is pretty powerful on this one. If you want to hear a film that fully utilizes the ever so important .1, this is it. LFE is an absolute monster, to the point that it should have been the villain of the film. It is everywhere. After a while, I half expected a mundane task like playing the piano to thump and thud its way across the room. Atmosphere has a roar, while any impact during a fight sequence will sport a bit of a shake. Funnily enough, when first entering a club scene, the first sequence that should have an obvious heavy bass presence, the bass is as calm as it gets in the film. The next song, though, will remind you of the sheer ferocity of the mix.
Dialogue is comprehensible for the most part, as the majority of the cringe inducing lines come through loud and clear. I say "for the most part," since there are times when the atmosphere can overwhelm the action...as in, every time there is atmosphere. There are a few subdued moments, much like the eye of a hurricane, thankfully giving everyone a slight rest before going back to the rattle, rattle, boom noises that define the sound mix. Gunfire is straight up beautiful, especially when bullets miss and hit metal structures, creating a loud popping ting. Motion effects can be quite powerful, and are very natural and realistic sounding. If the film itself were mixed a bit louder to counter the overwhelming bass presence, this would be a 5 star transfer easily, as it is truly a fantastic track. As is, it's too strong for its own good.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
'The Legend of Chun-Li' comes to Blu-ray with a healthy assortment of extras, including:
- Multiple cuts of the film - Both the theatrical version of the film, and the unrated cut are included on this disc. Before the menu even pops up, you are prompted as to which version you'd like to see, but can also switch your choice through the extras section.
- Audio Commentary - By producers Patrick Aiello and Ashok Amritaj, Neil McDonough and Chris Klein. This commentary is available only on the unrated cut of the film. The men lay down a few obvious hints to the game release (I wonder if Capcom paid them off?), but for the most part provide some analysis to the one dimensional characters found on screen, and the filming process itself. They sure do like a whole lot of facets of the film, as you will find out over the course of this track. There is some good coverage, and a few decent explanations of events that were not in the film, why some characters were where, etc.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 15 min) - A series of deleted scenes in standard definition. Scenes not in English do not have subtitles, so they were pretty much gibberish to me. Some scenes are not even complete (and come with the blank screen describing what the shot would have been, blank computer screens with focus marks), and oddly enough, these unfinished sequences would have added that comical touch the film was missing. A few scenes make much more sense with the cropped footage, especially the bathroom escape, while the final cut scene, which is somewhat of an alternate ending, would have made the film get an even lower score if it were in there. Pure unadulterated awful.
- Marvel vs Capcom 2 Sneak Peak (HD, 1 min) - Oh. My. God. A video game trailer accompanied by the infamous You've Got the Touch song that made me think there was a hidden message about molestation in the 'Transformers' cartoon movie. It doesn't get any more classic than this.
- Becoming a Street Fighter (HD, 18 min) - This feature talks about the history of the game, and shows clips of different versions of the games being discussed. That doesn't exactly make me think that those involved knew what they were doing here... Soon after, the ideas and themes of the film are kicked around. The original film isn't mentioned, which was quite hilarious. The scary thing here is that the producers and actors actually have the right ideas on what makes a film work, the importance of crafting an exceptional villain, but they fail when they talk it up like a blockbuster for boys and girls alike.
- Chun-Li: Bringing the Legend to Life (HD, 6 min) - The backstory of the character is analyzed, while the crafting of the character is the focus here. Kreuk and crew talk about making a real life character out of a what began as a mere sprite, while the training process is shown ever so briefly. Skippable.
- Making a Scene (SD, 9 min) - This feature focuses on the four on one street fighting scene, and the importance of the fight in the movie in general. There is some recycled footage in this extra from the other featurettes, which was a bit annoying. Again, skippable.
- Galleries - There are three galleries to be found in the supplements: Game-to-Film Comparison, Storyboards, and Production Stills. The game/film comparisons really pissed me off, as I hated having my nose rubbed in how very much the characters were altered. The storyboards and stills are quite generic, but far more immersive than the first gallery, which is less than ten shots.
- DVD - A full length animated DVD of 'Street Fighter: Round One: Fight!' is included on disc three. I love how these DVD's are being included in Fox/MGM releases, as they add a great value to a title one was already contemplating purchasing.
- Previews (HD) - Trailers for 'Miss March' and 'The Marine II' are available through the menu. Upon inserting the disc, there are also a few trailers, for 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine,' 'DragonBall: Evolution,' and '12 Rounds,' that are not available through the menu. There is no trailer on this disc for 'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.'
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are a couple goodies exclusive to this release, as well!
- In-Movie Enlightenment Trivia Track - Trivia Track! My favorite kind of extra when done properly. This one starts with plenty of generic video game factoids, in a blue frame, with martial arts and filming blurbs in a grey box. These pop ups are frequent, which was nice, but are very generic and uninspired, offering nothing that could even resemble informative trivia. As the film goes on, they show up less often, showing they wore out most of their "material" early. Another downside is the fact that the factoids disable the necessary subtitles for the film, that is in more languages than just English, so when a text blurb isn't on screen, the film is somewhat incoherent.
- Digital Copy - A digital copy occupies disc two, compatible with both Windows and Mac computers.
For you, the day you sit down to 'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li' will be the least important day of your life. But for me... It was well, the same. Scratch that thought. The correct choice was made to reboot the series as a whole, but after this outing, any future incarnation of the series will need to start from the beginning, again, and work on washing not one, but two foul tastes out of our mouths. This Blu-ray is the epitome of the good disc, bad flick label, with great video, and ridiculously active audio, and a nice assortment of extras. Don't say you weren't warned!
- BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
- Region A Locked
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround
- English SDH
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Trivia Track
- Digital Copy
- Bonus DVD