I can think of almost anything better to do than watching “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li,” a wholly inept action experience that works at boring us to tears. There’s going to the dentist, eating broken glass and (the best bet) retreating to “Street Fighter IV,” a true meal for the fanatics of the mythos.
Why don’t we all just face it, there will never be a good video game movie and no matter how many stars pop up to headline them, there’s just no way you can take a video game and turn it in to an enjoyable blockbuster. I mean look at past titles like “Super Mario Bros.” and “Doom.” There’s simply no argument against continuing with the trend. When will studios get a clue? “The Legend of Chun Li” is a film that not only takes itself too seriously, but never knows how to entertain it’s audience. The fight scenes are too few and far between and uninspired and that’s due to the often poor editing and the sloppy choreography.
Director Andrzej Bartkowiak doesn’t even try to emulate the video game and just tells a story that rarely ever feels like we’re watching “Street Fighter.”
As an ex gamer I felt especially insulted that so few characters from the game appear and when they do they’re basically broad facsimiles with costumes that don’t even want to satisfy what the fan boys paying to see. There are appearances from Vega, Balrog and (ugh) M. Bison in their full form with even more disregard for the formula that would ensure a successful transference on screen. Why is Bison a white man? Since when is Vega a henchman?
The storyline or lack thereof is basically what we saw in the Street Fighter II cut scenes. At a young age Chun Li’s father was kidnapped by Bison and she now spends her life exacting revenge at all of Bison’s cronies. This rage is emphasized by stilted and often mind numbing narration by star Kreuk who describes every scene on the nose which eventually just gets in the way of the story on screen.
For ninety minutes we watch plenty of star Kreuk taking us through the motions, first as the film’s storyteller and then as the determined young Chun Li who spends most of the movie struggling to invoke some emotion not reliant on brooding and pouting when faced with a nemesis. She also takes many walks through Bangkok thanks to the glory of the montage and performs good deeds that rarely ever lead to a good street fight. Going along for the ride is the notoriously awful Chris Klein as a cop tracking Li with his partner, and of course the goings on with Clarke Duncan as boxer Balrog playing second fiddle to Neal McDonough a man who seems bored for most of his screen time.
“The Legend of Chun-Li” tries too hard to stray from the source material to bring some sense of dignity to the proposed franchise and this is the film’s primary downfall. Their efforts to start from scratch just aren’t much of an argument to sit through this train wreck and the studio seems to lose the whole point of the video game and its untapped potential to be an epic action film. The characters we want simply don’t appear and we’re left with second tier actors trying their best to endure the hack script by Justin Marks whose entire screenplay is just tedious, sloppy, incoherent dribble.
Why can’t we just let video games be video games?