STREET FIGHTER: The Legend Of Chun-Li - Yaks!
STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI (action adventure)
Cast: Kristin Kreuk, Moon Bloodgood, Michael Clarke Duncan, Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Robin Shou, Taboo, Josie Ho, Cheng Pei-pei and Edmund Chen
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Time: 90 mins
Rating: * (one out of four)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? The big deal is that after the first screen version of the Street Fighter videogame had been so badly roasted by critics, the makers if this sequel do not seem to have learnt anything from that 1994 debacle.
That Street Fighter starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. Soon after doing the movie, Julia died and he was mostly remembered for his melodramatic performance as General Bison. As for the movie itself, it was a laughing stock even for videogame fans.
The movie spelled a 'Game Over' for Street Fighter's foray into the big screen - until now.
Screenwriter Justin Marks and director Andrzej Bartkowiak (of Romeo Must Die) must have thought that most people would have forgotten about how bad the first movie was. Ironically, however, he did not bother to make his sequel any better.
This one still lacks a proper plot and storyline. The teaming up of veteran martial arts star Robin Shou and Kristin Kreuk (better known as Lana Lang of TV's Smallville) in the title role, does nothing for the action. And if you think director Bartkowiak would try to get more out of big names like Michael Clarke Duncan (of The Green Mile fame), Neal McDonough (of Desperate Housewives) and veteran Asian icon Cheng Pei-Pei, you will be disappointed.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The movie opens with Kreuk's voiceover narration of the events in Chun-Li's childhood - and you realise that Bartkowiak is taking the easy way out. For an action adventure, a lot of time is wasted unravelling an utterly senseless plot.
In the 1994 original (also based on Capcom videogame, Street Fighter 2), Chun-Li was a TV reporter played by Ming-Na Wen. Here, Kreuk's Chun-Li is a pianist who is trained in Chinese martial arts by her businessman father (Edmund Chen) who has dealings with the vile Bison (McDonough) and his sidekick Balrog (Duncan). When Chun-Li is still a student, her dad is captured by Bison and the poor girl thinks he is dead.
Bison's nefarious plan is to wipe out all the other crime lords and buy over the slums of Bangkok so that he can build his Shadaloo empire! Meanwhile, Chun-Li learns that Daddy is alive and sets off from Hong Kong to Bangkok to rescue him. In Bangkok, she survives in the slums as a 'street fighter' before teaming up with the mysterious Gen (Robin Shou).
HITS & MISSES: The scripter seems to have taken the franchise to a supernatural level. Gen has the ability to create a magical 'power vapour ball' and to disappear and reappear out of nowhere. If you think Gen is unintentionally funny, wait till you listen to Kreuk speak Cantonese (in a HK subway scene). Other unintentional humour comes from co-stars Chris Klein and Moon Bloodgood who play bungling detectives investigating Bison's activities. These two reluctant 'love interests' provide the needless comic relief in between the chases and brawls.
Forget Ong Bak. You won't find Tony Jaa's type of stunts here. The action choreography is second-grade and the acting is campy even from the cast of established stars. McDonough hams his way through the show while Duncan earns his keep as the typical bouncer and strongman. Kreuk looks awkward throughout the movie, while Cheng Pei-pei only has a short cameo. However, after watching Klein and Bloodgood here, you wish you could send them back to acting school.
THE LOWDOWN: Forget this sequel. Stick with the game. It has a lot more thrills.