Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Review: Tekken

When I was ten years old, Tekken 3 was released onto the original Playstation gaming system in 1998. I fell in love right there and paired with Gan Turismo I had no other reason to live than to play those games. I've been a Tekken series fan ever since.

So it goes without saying that when I found out about this getting made I was excited to say the least. Then I asked myself not as a game enthusiast, but as a student of film, "Why isn't this making it's way around the headlines of the usual trades online with film news?"

It hit me when I found out about the director, the producer, writer, and then actor's. Fuck, this is a low-budget B movie. Great.

But wait! There's more!

Then a few pictures were released and I got excited again seeing Jin and Eddie Gordo invoked so accurately. Then I saw this trailer and said "Fuck" all over again. 

See what I mean?

Here's a fan-made trailer for a contest. The acting is hokey-dokey, but the look, feel, atmosphere and locations are spot-fucking-on sucka. 

See now those are fight scenes! Those are Tekken locations! That's the universe. Shame the movie couldn't get that right. . .

The Way The Poster Should Have
Originally Been Printed
The Tekken universe is immersed inside the regular, present day world. With the giant corporation, Mishima  Zaibatsu, controlled by Heihachi Mishima himself more like a shady private military company/giant science lab. Restaurants, families, the mall, Asian girls in sexy private school outfits and everyday things exist peacefully. The King Of The Iron Fist Tournament is held to see if anyone can beat the winner from last year, Mishima himself, for control of the company. In this film, we get this:

"In the year of 2039, after World Wars destroy much of civilization as we know it, territories are no longer run by governments, but by corporations; the mightiest of which is the Tekken Corporation, which controls North America. In order to placate the seething masses of this dystopia, the corporation's Chairman/CEO, Heihachi Mishima, sponsors the King of Iron Fist Tournament, or Iron Fist - in which fighters battle until one is left standing, who in turn will receive a lifetime of stardom and wealth."

Goddammit. . . So what I'm trying to say, is when we learn that from a voice-over from Jin in the beginning, I found out this fil-- oops, movie, has nothing to do entirely with the awesome universe the game forged many years ago. It went down two 'Nanas automatically after that.

Jin who (inexplicably has an English accent but is born and raised in North America/Tekken by the way) lives in the slums of some shit-hole part of America, trafficking illegal contraband for money, looses his mother Jun to a rocket launched missile, get's pissed at the Mishima/Tekken corp. and vows to destroy it all. That's pretty much how this fuckin' thing get's it's wheel's off the ground. And it just got worse and worse.

Like, (here's where I venture out of critic territory and into kid in Toys R Us-ville) why would the Tekken force military soldiers from the video games be wearing face-plates that resembles sewer grates over the damn faces? Too see better? No wonder, they always get merked out so fast. Why use the characters you did, and then throw some away so quickly when they have huge damn followings? Where was Paul Phoenix (short of a voice reference)? King? Lei Wulong (Who rips off Jackie Chan to every degree as much as Marshall Law does Bruce Lee) And yeah, why did they have Cung Lee as Marshal Law, who is a loser fighter who can't even get back in the Tournament? Law = Raw playas. And who looks and fights nothing like him? Why doesn't anyone have any recognizable moves from the series? How come they shit all over Mishima's character in this as far as action and why couldn't they just stick his godamn hair up a little more? Why doesn't Christie Monteiro have any connection to Eddy Gordo and why wasn't he Brazilian?! Why doesn't-- 

Well. . . as you can see, there's quiet a bit of indiscretions a Tekken fan is going to have. But as a film/movie fan--the costumes look like cosplay from a comic convention. The dialogue is either forced out of every mouth with the ferocity of a bear, or slowly released like they're all trying to win a "Who Can Speak The Coolest" contest. The locations and entire atmosphere has no semblance to the Tekken series whatsoever and does no good to make us believe this world is real. Five supposed days go by, yet we never see an inch, a second of day-light. There was a nice little scene much like the South Park episode where they make KFC illegal. Jin has to buy fresh ground coffee, an orange and a chocolate bar on the black market showing us the world he lives in. They even discuss the coffee grounds as if they were coke. That's was easily the smartest bit of dialogue the entire script had. Then we go back to the same movie that actually had Jin, hurt someone, then say and I quote, "Oh, that's gotta hurt." Aw duuuuuuuuude. . . Doesn't that sum it up right there? When your writing a script, and you actually type that onto the page, do you stop and go, "Oh man, I'm fuckin' awesome!" Like, why, would-- Eh. . . It'll get me nowhere questioning the motives of film makers who think that shouldn't be omitted from the material. They didn't do a bad job of keeping the story together once they found their intention and reason to tell it. But that doesn't mean that the Swiss-cheese celluloid this was shot in doesn't still stink to high fuckin' Heaven either.

They said they were hiring real martial artist to give the audience the best experience they could with a fighting game to film. Well, that wasn't really the case with a lot of them, and even with some that had some serious skill, and abilities as actor's, they were completely under utilized. And yeah, the acting was on pair with, well, a low-budget-B-movie let's say? And those martial arts they so desperately wanted to showcase? Lateef Crowder is a truly gifted martial artist and Capoeira master. Why cut him short in this when people were dying to see Eddy Gordo fuck someone up.Well, if they editing weren't so cheaply employed, we'd actually get to see those blows land on the faces of the fighters. Though I have my understandings as to why that didn't exactly happen. . .

When you take a 15 year old video game property with a monstrous following and fan-base, you better follow it word for word with as little artistic liberties taken as possible or your going to have blood on your hands. Video game blood. Melissa Rosenberg went the same route as much as she could with the Twilight Films. And hokey-fuckin'-dokey they may be, they rake in boat-loads from the very happy loyal fans.

So that's my final word, if your going to adapt, adapt. Do it right or not at all, as too many people's parent's have yelled at them over the years (mine fuckin' have). Don't get inspired and fuck up years of love and hard-work for a quick film transfer and quicker (but not much) money. This will bomb next year when it bows in North America. And it just so happens, it was bought by a distributor today. It's due to sink without trace at the box office sometime early next year. My guess, some dead weekend in Feb or March. January is usually reserved for the ones that got slightly pushed back cuz of Oscar bait fever and consist of teen horror attractions/bad action/inspired sci-fi.

As a film critic, I'm required to watch a movie or film from start to finish. But I'll tell you this: as a 12 year Tekken fan, I'm required to call it quits when Eddy Gordo looses in the first round of the The King Of The Iron Fist Tournament.

Munki most disappointingly out.

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