Case Number 16786

STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI (BLU-RAY)

Fox // 2009 // 97 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 10th, 2009

The Charge

"Your father has been the milk of my business. But even milk has an expiration date."

Opening Statement

Say you're a renowned video game publisher and you're sitting on one of the most lucrative intellectual properties ever created for the medium. The fan base is rabid, there's worldwide recognition of the characters, a highly anticipated video game is forthcoming, and there's nowhere else you can go but up after your last theatrical treatment of the material. What do you do? If you're Capcom, you slap together a Street Fighter movie that bears pretty much no resemblance to the games, turns the best-loved characters into no-shows, poops all over the characters that are included, and make it all excruciatingly boring.

Facts of the Case

Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk, Smallville) is a master of the sacred martial arts of Wushu and Being-Skinnier-Than-Boron. When her beloved father is kidnapped, she embarks on a mission to get him back, simultaneously tearing down the entire criminal underworld. The scumbag behind the abduction is none other than Bison (Neal McDonough, Traitor), the infamous gangster warlord who has apparently used some kind of magic spell to rid himself of his conscience. This means he's extra mean, having used Chun-Li's father for his connections and goons like Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Vega to gradually taken over Bangkok.

Thanks to some handy training from kung fu stud Gen (Robin Shou, Mortal Kombat) and tactical support from Interpol agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein, American Pie), Chun-Li is set to twirl, spin, and flying birdkick her way into crappy movie immortality.

The Evidence

Who is the target demographic for this movie? It's not fans of Street Fighter because there's next to nothing here that would attract followers of the series. I don't know how it appeals to the non-gaming masses, since it still sports the Street Fighter label. My only guess: Robin Shou's immediate family.

This is a terrible movie. I'm as big a Street Fighter fan as you'll find, but I scrambled to dig up any redeeming value in this mess and that included aggressively pursuing the so-bad-it's-good angle.

You may have heard rumors of a legendarily awful series of line readings by Chris Klein...yes, is that bad. What he does here is destined to become the defining godforsaken performance of our generation. I do not have the vocabulary to accurately describe what this guy was doing, but thanks to the commentary I know he thought it was genuinely awesome and that makes me fear for Chris Klein's mental health. Seriously, it needs to be seen to be believed. Of course, that means you're going to have to actually see it.

Now let's take a closer look at the film through the prism of a follower of the Street Fighter mythology.

Here's what you can expect to weep-over:

Chun-Li
In the games, she's a secret agent. In the movie, she's a concert pianist. There are a couple fight moves from the game -- the upside down birdkick, executed clumsily in a strip club; and a fireball, a gob of special effects that plays a pivotal role in the mandated training sequence -- and the eventual Final Bad Guy fight. Kreuk is okay, but she's obviously not a fighter. I have a hard time envisioning her punches, with the force of all 70 pounds of her wiry frame behind them, making a dent into a block of warm brie much less Michael Clarke Duncan.

Gen
An old man and a lower tier character from the video game universe is given a more macho makeover with Robin Shou showing up to spout off a bunch of generic sensei gobbledygook. He's also a dick of a teacher. Apparently Chun-Li is the only person who can rescue her father and defeat Bison, even though she's a pianist and he's a seasoned fighter who can throw bigass fireballs. To get her up to snuff, Gen arranges bizarre training scenarios -- including one particularly lethal one that involves Chun-Li blindfolded -- listening to gongs, catching ball bearings, and deflecting sword swipes, all while hovering over a table-saw. Thanks teach!

Balrog and Vega
Duncan has the build of the Balrog, but he's not a boxer or anything. He's just a huge, muscular black guy who does security and his name happens to be Balrog. Vega is probably the closest aligned to his pixel counterpart; he's got the mask and the claw, but he goes down like a punk.

Bison
Ugh, the guy who got it the worst in the feature film translation. At least Raul Julia looked like M. Bison. Here, the fearsome dictator general who floated around with psycho power and crushed his foes with scissors kicks and full-body flame torpedoes, has been turned into an Irish guy who grew up in the slums and used magic to poop his soul into his unborn daughter.

And that's all there is in common with the video game -- obviously "in common with" is used in the loosest sense of the phrase. The final bone Capcom throws to the faithful is a mention of an upcoming tournament starring "Ryu something." By then, however, "the faithful" will have almost certainly gone back to watch the original Street Fighter movie and, perplexed and befuddled, asked themselves how it's possible that goofy piece of crap was as good as it gets for the franchise.

The Blu-ray is passable, but far from noteworthy. The 2.35:1 transfer has its moments and pushes out some solid detail work here and there, but the color levels are washed out and fail to pack a punch. Overall, it's a relatively flat exercise in HD visual fidelity. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is loud and effective at shaking the walls. Unfortunately, it also works at making Chris Klein's words audible. Extras: Commentary from the cast and crew where they (unsurprisingly) gush over how awesome their stupid movie is, deleted scenes you won't care about, a trivia track featuring such compelling nuggets like "In the video game M. Bison wears a gray cape" and "Bangkok is the capital of Thailand," a pair of half-baked making-of featurettes, a Fox Movie Channel segment, three image galleries, a full-length comic movie called Street Fighter Round One: Fight! which is essentially a Scholastic read-along, and a digital copy. That's your three discs.

Closing Statement

Is one stunningly horrible performance enough to endure 97 minutes of (in)action tedium? Answer that question and you'll know whether or not your Friday night is going to be ruined.

The Verdict

Guilty. Please God, make it stop.

Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 80
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 40
Story: 50
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated

Distinguishing Marks
* Theatrical and Unrated Versions
* Commentary
* Trivia Track
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Animated Film
* Image Galleries
* Digital Copy

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0891592/combined