March 1st, 2009


I’ve sat here at my computer for the past hour or so trying to form the words that would inform you all of the sheer stupidity and utter awesomeness that awaits you all if you venture out to the theater to see Street Fighter:  The Legend of Chun-Li.  I don’t know quite how to classify this flick.  It’s not a sequel to the 1994 Van Damme flick and it’s not really a direct adaptation of the video game either.  It just kinda singles out the character of Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk) and lets her do her own thing while interacting with surprisingly few characters from Capcom’s crazy popular (in the 90’s that is) video game.


Another thing I’m not sure about is whether or not this flick was intended to be a comedy.  All I know is I haven’t laughed this hard and long at a movie since Role Models (and I was drunk when I saw that one).  One thing I know for sure is that this is the best movie based on a video game since DOA.  (If that quote doesn’t get my name plastered on the front of the DVD cover, nothing will.)


The Legend of Chun-Li goes a little something like this:  Chun-Li is this concert pianist whose dad has some shady dealings in Bangkok.  Bad Dude M. Bison (Neal McDonough) kidnaps her daddy and keeps him locked up because if he didn’t, Chun-Li wouldn’t have an excuse to Kung Fu people for the next 97 minutes.  Finally Chun-Li (who is SUPPOSED to be Asian but she’s about as Asian looking as Manute Bol) goes to Bangkok and learns from her master Gen (Robin Shou, who also played Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat movies) how to hurl ha-do-kens and stuff so she’ll have what it takes to fight M. Bison and get revenge.


That’s what the film is about on the surface.  For me though, it was all about Chris Klein.  You might remember Klein as the Keanu Reeves wannabe from the American Pie flicks who used to date Katie Holmes before she got brainwashed by Tom Cruise.  I personally kinda forgot about the guy myself and more or less wondered going into the theater, “How many people turned this movie down before Chris Klein said YES?  112 maybe?”  Those questions were soon washed away once the film began.  Klein gives the funniest performance in a motion picture since Chaplin played The Little Tramp. 


There’s a scene early on in the film that had me in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.  It came when Klein’s character, Interpol Agent Charlie Nash was giving a rundown on M. Bison’s operation to his unit.  At one point, he actually breaks the fourth wall and begins delivering the rest of his monologue straight to the audience.  Just like King Lear and shit.  With his faux-macho posturing, misplaced earnestness, and deadpan stare; he looked like he was auditioning to take over for Ben Stiller in Zoolander 2 or something.  Folks, I lost it.  And wait until you hear the words, “Nash out!”  I defy you not to belly-laugh.


I was surprised to find that the stuff that actually involved Chun-Li was rather well done.  The fight scenes benefited from some decent choreography (although not too many actually take place in the street) and director Andrej Bartkowiak (who is making amends for fucking up another video game property, Doom) kept the flick moving at a steady pace.  I sorta even liked the way that the script built Chun-Li up as this Charles Bronson/Robin Hood of the slums too.  (Does this make her Slumdog Street Fighter?) 


Still though, most of the film was excruciatingly dumb.  I hated the way all of the characters over-emphasized every little plot point and beat it mercilessly into the ground.  (“M. Bison?  You mean the head of Shadaloo?  The guy who kidnapped your father?”)  The ADR was also hella crazy and needlessly interjected and regurgitated plot information that we already figured out two reels ago.  There was also an incredibly idiotic scene where Gen is clearly right behind Chun-Li in one scene and then some old woman sends her all the way to Bangkok to find him, which makes zero sense because he was right behind her the whole time.  I wanted to scream, “LOOK BEHIND YOU BITCH!”  C’mon, there was no need to go all the way to Bangkok when the asshole was right behind you two seconds ago!


Sure, there was some supremely shitty stuff in this flick, but there was a lot of stuff that cracked me the fuck up.  Like the scene where Chun-Li seduces a lesbian on the dance floor and then lures her into the bathroom so they can beat the shit out of each other.  There were also a lot of sepia tone flashbacks that gave the film an authentic 70’s Kung Fu Movie vibe that I really dug.  The most batshit insane of these scenes came when we see how a young Bison gained his evil powers:  By ripping his baby daughter out of his wife’s stomach with his bare hands!    Brilliant!  Speaking of brief but memorable gore; we also got a pretty tasty 180 degree head twist too; one of the cooler deaths I’ve seen in a PG-13 movie lately. 


There was even a great final scene that ripped off the Joker card scene from Batman Begins.  In the end of the film, Gen gives Chun-Li a flyer for a “Fighting Tournament” and tells her she should check it out.  (“There’s a guy named Ryu… something who’ll be fighting!”)  Folks, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried so be glad somebody else did.


Before we get a legitimate sequel to this film however, I’m hoping that someday soon we’ll get to see a Street Fighter:  The Legend of Charlie Nash starring my boy Chris Klein.  His performance in this flick is truly one for the books.  Can you imagine a whole movie based around this character with Klein center stage?  Four Stars would not be enough.


The Video Vacuum Salutes Street Fighter:  The Legend of Chun-Li for…


Being the Best Movie Based on a Video Game Since DOA.  (Again, I’m desperately trying to get my name on a DVD box here.)


Having the Best Baby-Ripping Scene Since Inside.


Featuring the (Unintentionally) Funniest Performance by a Leading Man This Millennium.

Nash out!