In the 21st century, films based on video games isn't a new concept, but in 2009 a film came really from out of nowhere, based on a character from probably the greatest game of the last century, and people went..”Huh?” The film bombed and was panned by critics, but did it get a fair cop?
Let's find out!
The film is a horrible, HORRIBLE example of whitewashing or at least 'murricaniszing by the writers and casting directors. Chun-Li is now half American, M.Bison is American, most of the Chinese folk have an American accent, and it's just borderline, if not entirely, racist. This type of nasty attitude is what I like to call 'Kung-Fu syndrome'. Kung-Fu was a television series in the 70's that that was created by, and meant to star Bruce Lee, who was dropped at the last minute in favour of David Carradine. The series also changed the lead character of Caine to a half American/Half Chinese man, as audiences wouldn't accept a fully Chinese protagonist. This stuff was ropy back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but in 2009 it's just absolutely unacceptable.
Racial changes aside, the actual cast of this film is pretty decent. Kristen Kreuk at least has some heritage on her side as her grandmother was Chinese, and to be honest I think she does rather a good job. Here is a pretty girl who has been offered the chance to star as the lead in a solo film about a strong female character based on an insanely popular and well know franchise. Of course she was going to take the role. Rightly so too, and Ms Kreuk puts in a mighty effort it must be said. She speaks some Chinese in the film and has obviously taken some time consuming lessons in order to participate in the fight scenes, which she does rather admirably. She runs, jumps, dives, and shoots quite the thing as she enjoys her time as the star of an action orientated film – sadly a rare occurrence for a lone female in the film world.
Whether she is ultimately the best choice for the character of Chun-Li is debatable, but one cannot fault her effort. If she had adopted a Chinese accent and the character was fully Chinese I wouldn't have had a problem with her still being in the film. However, unfortunately that would be even more of a case of whitewashing than before as why not just cast a fully Chinese girl?
Andrzej Bartkowiak is in the captain's chair, and being a pretty ok director in my book this gives the film a bit of a sheen. Production wise I really don't think the film can be faulted. It's very well shot, it's decently directed, and it has a very polished feel to the entire product. The film is presented as somewhat of an international crime thriller, which is a strange albeit interesting choice for the character of Chun-Li, although maybe not that strange give her background. The problem is that these kinds of films have to be super smart with a great script, pin point pacing, and strong story, and The Legend Of Chun-Li is just a bit boring if I'm honest. Some parts are drawn out far too long with not much happening, or shit that you're really just not interested in. The story is ok I guess, and (sort of) retains Chun-Li's personal plot from the game. However, it seems like a lot of flashy bits hanging off what is a pretty simple plot at it's core, and they seem to be there as filler rather than fleshing out the actual main story as in interesting concept. The film also suffers from yawn inducing exposition, as Kreuk narrates away a good chunk of the story just to make sure the audience is up to speed in what's going on. A bit of this would be ok, but it's really just being lazy..
Despite what critics and general opinions say The Legend Of Chun-Li isn't a bad film. In fact I rather enjoyed it as a movie in it's own right! It's polished, well presented and the cast perform their jobs adequately. If it had a better story, some better tailored fight action and they didn't have the gaul to change and add so much stuff to suit American audiences who are racist enough to not accept a foreign hero then it could possibly have been a tremendous step forward for game films but although it falls flat on it's face it does have a lot of saving graces which given how cheeky it all is, is a bit of a feat.
10/10 for the cast and crew. A very hard ping in the nuts for the writers and producers for ruining what could have been a really cool picture but left us with a decent film that nobody will give the time of day to thanks to the arrogant and pretty disgraceful changes.
Striding forth from his lair at Castle Stareskull one morning, Prototron decided to not reign down terror on the villagers, but instead go back inside, crack open a beer and load up Streets Of Rage 2. One hundred years later, he's still there. A avid music maker (of TERROR!) and retro gamer, he can be found whooping any and all heroes at all manner of SNK-based challenges.