Film Friday - Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li + a drinking game

Film Friday - Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li + a drinking game

{Editor's Note - When it came time for CJ to watch this film I insisted that Chris and I (Dean) would join him and we would drink every time a piece of furniture was broken because nearly a decade ago when this movie came out I was forced to review it and I found it comical that most of the fight scenes were harder on the set than the characters and a drinking game based on the destruction could be dangerous.  While CJ omitted the debauchery from his straight forward review below, continue to the end and Chris and I will share some thoughts on the movie and the drinking challenge}

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (Unleashed and Unrated) [Blu-ray]
Starring Kristin Kreuk, Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Robin Shou, Moon Bloodgood

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Street Fighter is a legendary gaming franchise, and fans are clamoring for more. The latest iteration of the game, Street Fighter II for the Nintendo Switch, was hotly anticipated for over a year—so much so, it almost got a non-gamer like me to drop a few hundred on a new system just to get another round with these wonderful characters. 

The World Warriors are adored by their fans, and they feel like they would translate to other media. As we’ve already covered in our series, both live action and animated versions of the characters have been translated to full length features, and there’s no doubt further attempts will be made to adapt this universe of characters to the big screen.

Or maybe not. 

Nearly 15 years after the debacle of Universal’s outing pitting Jean Claude Van Damme versus Raul Julia, the powers that be at Capcom decided to let the franchise hit the silver screen once more, this time focusing on the franchise’s most notable female character, Chun-Li; and sadly, the result may have been enough to end Street Fighter’s run on the big screen…forever. 

Yeah, it’s like that. I searched for some online story about how and why this movie exists, but I could not find anything conclusive or worth retelling here. Unfortunately, all I do have to say is what many others already have. And it’s not positive. 

FILM-JIBBA-JABBA

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li follows the titular character as she searches southeast Asia for answers about her missing father, who is being blackmailed into working for the ruthless, corporate terrorist M. Bison….or something like that. Along the way, Chun-li meets the elder warrior GEN, who trains her in the art of summoning fireballs….or something like that. Meanwhile, Charlie Nash, a washed-out detective who obsessively wants to catch Bison, pursues the crime lord as much as the law will allow him, with the help of a new slick female partner…or something like that. And Vega shows up, and it’s immensely disappointing. On that last point, I am clear. 

If you thought the 1993 Street Fighter film Starring Van Damme was bad, then prepare to adjust your standards. I don’t want to be cruel, but the truth is that Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li makes 1993’s live action Street Fighter look like the Animated movie. The bar drops that low, and it hurts. In fact—and I hate to say this—but the Legend of Chun-Li may be as bad as Super Mario Bros., but that’s like comparing a dog bite to a bee sting. 

The problem is that the film feels like a straight-to-TV movie for TBS or TNT with a handful of top-notch actors (Neal McDonough and Michael Clarke Duncan) just earning a paycheck because, well, life is like that. These A-list actors are surrounded by others like Robin Shou and star Kristin Kreuk, who also appear to be working for work’s sake, with the exception of Chris Klein, who at least feels like he is investing every ounce of effort into making his character interesting (with less than effective results). At the end of the day, it’s just a mess from opening to the final fight, which has an “end move” that is ludicrous in both its concept and execution.

There’s little else to say, sadly, other than this may be the worst work of any of the individual’s onscreen, so if you catch them elsewhere, your opinion will only go up. So that’s something. 

SHOULD DADS BOTHER?

Nope. Not ever. Not even if it’s on TV. Just…just don’t. 

SHOULD THEY BRING THE KIDS?

See above.

Dean's Thoughts

As I mentioned in the editor's note I pitched watching this movie as a drinking experience because I think the movie has some cult potential.  It is clearly terrible, but was able to secure some stars and budget enough to give you moments of thinking they might pull a few scenes off. I thought maybe adding drinks to the mix could take this movie to another level and I think we succeeded.  I was worried that I was mistaken on how much furniture was broken during the fight scenes and that we wouldn't get drunk, but that was put to bed pretty quickly as they clearly delighted in breaking something after every strike.  It should be noted that I hosted this event and therefore was the most free to get drunk and I executed on that potential.  I started with straight shots of Catching Fire a Fireball-esque cinnamon whisky (I keep it ice cold in the freezer, try it, it is smoother than Fireball) and followed that with strong Rum and Cokes until I spilled one on myself which signaled it was time to dial it back.  Even if you are a coward like Chris who only drinks beer and probably didn't get much of a buzz, this challenge will get the party started and we laughed through the whole ordeal.  I will say that the second time through I was all about Chris Klein over acting the hell out of every scene.  It was spectacular.  I mean I was lit, but it was a delight to watch and laugh.

Chris's Thoughts

I love Street Fighter, and while I agreed to join Dean and CJ for the drinking game I secretly wanted to watch this movie in earnest.  Is it canon? Does it give us insight on the characters that we can use to beat the game? I stuck with watered down beer and fake sips so while they laughed I could study the film.  The choice of pop star/b-boy Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas must be a hint at the musicality of Vega's style.  I will have to try fighting Vega in a manner that will ruin his rhythm.  Seeing Balrog using weaponry and goons regularly makes it clear why he is the easiest villain in the game as he clearly doesn't have the drive and discipline to sharpen his fighting skills to transform him into a beautiful weapon of death. Dean spilled his drink on himself and I miss a fascinating exchange from M.Bison that might have sprung open the Pandora's box that is the secretive Shadaloo. I'm gonna have to re-watch the movie now because of that idiot.  Maybe after another 10-15 viewings I will share some more thoughts here on the site, but I will say the movie has a lot of value to true fans as secondary characters like Gen and Charlie Nash are explored in a way we seldom see for the second tier characters.  I mean not everyone loves Ryu and Guile getting all the attention. Buy two copies of this movie and store them in separate places lest one be destroyed. 

Chris's (Real) Thoughts

This movie is a pile of flaming garbage.

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