The Night Out: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009), or How Is This Street Fighter?

3 03 2009
Theres Chun-Li, right inside the torso of the fellow receiving the finishing blow!

There's Chun-Li, right inside the torso of the fellow receiving the finishing blow!

Hello, everyone! It’s time for another Night Out to make up for last week. For those of you who don’t know, The Night Out is my attempt to inform everyone of the goings on in your local theaters, good or not-so-good. Now, during the last movie in theaters I watched, I mentioned the dreaded post-Oscar malaise sweeping the nation. Already it is taking hold. Looking at what my theaters in town had to offer, I felt mildly ill. As the resident FILM SNOB, the selection is a little plebeian to say the least right now. Friday the 13th, The International, and a number of other substandard-looking films have flooded the market, films that seemingly waited for all the good movies to leave the room. Some of the real dregs have come up, including today’s feature, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It is a video game movie that nobody asked for about one of the blander characters in the franchise. But damn it, I saw it! Even going into the theater, I felt grimaces and sneers from across my back, as if all of creation carried disdain for me because I walked into this theater. But, damn it, I saw it! And do I regret it? NO! Because this was the most aggressively bad movie I have seen in a long time, and it runs the gamut from being awful to awesome about 5 times a second.

Obviously, it is the life of Chun-Li, famous ass-kicking lady from the Street Fighter games. It follows her childhood, where she is raised by an Asian father and a Caucasian mother in Bangkok. Her father is an important businessman who has hooked up with the wrong people. When she is still very young, her father is taken from her home by a huge guy named Balrog (?) and a mysterious Irishman named Bison (?). She believes him lost forever and moves on with her life, becoming a concert pianist and taking care of her now-dying mother. Her father still lives, being forced to work for Bison, and living only for the few pictures of his family that Bison feeds him. You see, Bison has huge plans. He plans to take over all the slum lands of Bangkok! Not the whole world or anything; that would be too ambitious. Just the slum lands. So, anyway, Chun-Li’s mother dies (boo-hoo), and she is all alone in the world with no purpose. Until, that is, she is contacted by a mysterious man named Gen, who runs the Order of The Web, an organization committed to fighting the evils of the mysterious Irishman Bison. Gen and his organization train her to fight so that she might find a purpose. She soon finds that her destiny lies with the same man as the Order of The Web’s, and that only together may they defeat Bison, save the streets of Bangkok, and bring back her father.

Okay, so does this sound a little weird? This odd Chun-Li backstory? Bison being Irish? Well, I don’t put too much stock into video game plot lines, especially fighting games, but jeez, the only thing that makes this movie Street Fighter is the title. Look back on the games, the instruction booklets, hell, even the fan-fiction. You will not find anything so weird and garish as this. Some of this stuff is completely out of nowhere (Chun-Li can Hadouken?). They needlessly retool a shoestring plot. It is ridiculous. I can’t even imagine what other things they were spitballing. “Okay, get this. How about Sagat is the Hydra? He comes up out of the sea and swallows up the city! And Guile- Guile is a gay strip club dancer who is the world’s only hope!”

The acting is fairly paltry. It seems everyone here just wanted a damn paycheck. I cannot believe they snagged Michael Clarke Duncan to be Balrog. He sleepwalks through the whole thing, but he is a WAY bigger name than I expected from these guys. And by the way; Balrog? From The Lord of The Rings? He who “SHALL NOT PASS”? Chris Klein is also in this as balding INTERPOL agent Charlie Nash (you’re not fooling anyone, Chris Klein). He has no bearing on the plot whatsoever except to have flirty dialog with a local Bangkok cop, who has no bearing either. It is all very useless. And the title character, played by Kristin Kreuk, is very ambitious with the material given, but cannot go beyond the crappiness of it all. No matter how hard she tries, she simply can’t escape what kind of movie she is starring in. Oh, and Street Fighter character Vega is played by someone named Taboo. Huh? Just one name. Taboo. That’s not as bad as Taimak, but way worse than Vanity. Please, fellow human beings, if you can, stick with two names. Please? It makes it easier on all of us when we don’t have to put up with your pretentious nonsense.

The fight scenes are passing, but not impressive. They are as forgettable as the soundtrack, the acting, the directing, the everything. It is all so dull sometimes. But the saving grace to this movie for me is just how awful it gets. Just how low can you go? There is a lot of dialog for a martial arts movie, and most of it is pretty laughable. I had a lot of fun with the cheezy one-liners and Bison’s matter-of-fact Irish accent (can you ever talk like you DON”T know everything?). And when people die in this movie… Oh, man. 90% of the time, the deaths are hilarious. Insensitive or true? You be the judge.

So, did you expect a 10 out of 10? You and I both knew the outcome of this one. But what you might not expect is that I actually kind of liked it. It grew on me in its lame-itude. The action is so half-hearted and the dialog is so corny that all I can do is smile a little when I think about it. It made me laugh, and that’s what counts. As a movie, I gotta be fair and give it 3 Balrogs (?) out of 10. But, on my own personal scale of cheezy movie love, this one gets 7 Taboos (?) out of 10. It’s fun, but just don’t call it Street Fighter.

Tomorrow we take a look at the Eastern-Western Sukiyaki Western Django!