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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

A 2009 action movie directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak

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1 ½ Stars: Kristin Kreuk and Moon Bloodgood Deserved a Better Movie

  • Jul 4, 2009
Rating:
+1

The awesome “Street Fighter” video game franchise was first brought to life by Hollywood in 1994 featuring a “cartoonish” Jean Claude Van-Damme, Ming Na-Wen, Kylie Minogue and Raul Julia as the despot named Bison. The movie was a disaster and it was no wonder why it failed miserably in the box-office. Hollywood should’ve taken pointers from Japan for “Street Fighter: The Animated Movie”, which was undeniably the best movie adapted from the franchise to date. Director Andrezj Bartkowiak now brings us another film very, very loosely based on the enduring video game franshise in “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li”. Nope, it isn’t any better than Van Damme’s movie. So why did I waste my time watching this movie? One name: Kristin Kreuk.
 
Many years have passed since a criminal mastermind named Bison (Neal McDonough) has abducted Xiang, the father to a girl named Chun-Li. Now, Bison rules the streets of Bangkok under the empire of Shadaloo; with his cohorts Balrog (Michael Clark Duncan), Vega (Taboo), and vixen Cantana (Josie Ho). They strike terror and panic into the hearts of its inhabitants. Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) is now grown up and has traveled to Bangkok in search of a mysterious man named Gen (Robin Shou) so that she may find her destiny. Under the tutelage of master Gen, Chun-Li learns how to channel her CHI and become a better fighter. Now, the young female warrior must try her best to take Bison down, with Interpol agents Nash (miscast Chris Klein) and sexy Maya (Moon Bloodgood) hot on her trail…

                   Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."
 
I am puzzled as to how and why this movie would carry the “Street Fighter” moniker. The film is a departure from the 1994 movie and carries very little references to the video game franchise. The movie only features a few characters and while I understand perfectly that this is a movie about Chun-Li, but it doesn’t really fit into any of the “Street Fighter” mythos. The movie does abandon a cartoonish feel, and replaces it with a straight-forward revenge premise; it is grittier and concentrates on Asian mysticism while adding the workings of a crime drama. The once colorful characters are replaced with a feeling of realism with the screenplay exercising a serious tone. Writer Justin Marks desperately tries to make the characters his own by incorporating new mythos, sidestepping video game tie-ins and resisting the temptation for the film to become another fight saga. The ambition is there, but sadly, this is a “Street-Fighter” movie and fans would like to see a lot of mano-o-mano brawls. 

            Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."

                         Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li and Robin Shou as Gen in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."
 
I wouldn’t really mind a re-imagining of the mythos and I can appreciate a bold approach but the direction just fumbles the ball. Andrezj Bartkowiak’s resume includes “Cradle to the Grave”, “Exit Wounds” and “Romeo Must Die”, so how can he end up with a project like this? What were they thinking--that someone who directed movies starring DMX can pull off a project like this?! The storytelling is rather a little clumsy with holes that open so wide that the state of California may be able to fit. I also felt that it was edited badly and since I saw the deleted scenes of the film in the Dvd, there were significant scenes that were edited out from the unrated cut. The inept directing and storytelling skills of Bartkowiak is on display as the movie slowly looses any small momentum it may have gained from the opening act.
 
All right, everything can be forgiven as long as an action movie has loads of action right? Well, the fight scenes choreographed by Dion Lam looks rather flashy with elaborate use of wire work accompanied with a ‘street-fighter-like” finishing effect. Some moves are decent, but most of them feels more like a simple exhibition than real encounters full of intensity. The set-ups are quite formulaic and I think the movie was restrained by its budget as the camerawork and editing of the fights could have been better. Kristin Kreuk did some of the stunts but most of the fights are unusually shot in a manner that intentionally hides the faces. Neal McDonough looked real clumsy in the fight scenes as he stumbles in counting off his moves much like John Saxon in ‘Enter the Dragon“. Robin Shou has more experience in action movies after “Mortal Kombat” so he looks comfortable. Note to Hollywood, it is easier to teach a martial artist how to act than to teach an actor to do martial arts. 

            A scene from "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."

                            Chris Klein as Charlie Nash in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."
 
The acting by Kristin Kreuk is as competent as in her performance in the TV show “Smallville”; sure it is decent but the direction can offer Kreuk very little support. Chris Klein looks like a metro sexual “Dirty Harry” as he tries to look like a ragged, unkempt tough guy. Klein is just horrible in his portrayal and his character so one-dimensional. Moon Bloodgood is a sight to behold, and her sexy looks are definitely a welcome distraction for the viewer. McDonough’s Bison is horrible; another note to Hollywood, a villain should be evil enough to be hated and loved enough to hate.
 
“Street Fighter the Legend of Chun-Li” should have done better without the “Street Fighter” brand then maybe I’ll give it a higher rating. The film is so lacking in video game tributes and when you have a member of the Black-eyed peas and Chris Klein, you know it’s headed straight to the cleaners. It would have acceptable if the drag-out brawls were spectacular but the movie is just hampered by bad editing, direction and budget. I like Kristin Kreuk and Moon Bloodgood but not enough to become interested in its hinted-at sequel although it does promise to right several mistakes in this movie. (Here’s hoping that Chris Kattan and Will Farrell doesn’t star as Ryu and Ken) Well, just give me Japan’s “Street Fighter” anime instead.
 
Skip it! [1 ½ Stars]

Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."    Moon Bloodgood as Maya Sunee in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."

            Josie Ho as Cantana in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li."

 
Dvd cover Poster Moon Bloodgood as Maya Kristin Kreuk alley fight

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July 08, 2009
Damn! I can't believe you were brave enough to sit through this one.
July 09, 2009
Thor Junior doesn't fear anything! Kristin Kreuk is hot!
July 13, 2009
Yeah, and the rest of the cast wasn't bad either, but talk about flogging a dead horse. This franchise should be pushing daisies by now.
 
July 06, 2009
Very interesting review, Woopak. I do recall enjoying the Van-Damme version in my youth (that along with the Double Dragon film and Mortal Kombat as well). Maybe I was just overjoyed to get movie versions of the games I was obsessed with at the time. This one sneaked by me though. Sounds like I didn't miss much. Thanks again for but another A+ review.
July 09, 2009
I gotta tell ya, I enjoyed van Damme's version as well as MK when I was a kid. For some reason, they didn't age well, or maybe I got smarter LOL! Only see this if you're hecka bored and wanna see Kristin Kreuk...
July 09, 2009
Pakman, I hear ya bro- I think we got smarter but then that's always objectionable. Oh and Kristin Kreuk, mmmm! Worth the price of admission alone me thinks.
September 25, 2011
yummy!



September 26, 2011
In a word: DAAAAMMMNNNN!
 
1
More Street Fighter: The Legend of ... reviews
review by . March 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It's true that the 1994 Street Fighter movie from Steven De Souza was a crappy, transparent attempt to cash in. But at times like this, it's important to remember the good things about it. You have to give credit to De Souza for being able to recognize the fact that his movie was piggybacking a popular video game franchise in the hopes that gamers were as nerdy and stupid as his fourth- or fifth-hand knowledge of the medium told him. He was honest enough about it to write so that everyone would …
review by . February 27, 2009
posted in MovieSucktastic
The Legend of Chun-Li
As a child, Street Fighters was one of my favorite video games on Super Nintendo, and as one of few female in the game, Chun-Li was by far my favorite fighter, so when The Legend of Chun Li came out, I just HAD to see it.  I ended up catching the midnight screening, and, well, I was underwhelmed.      The movie started out strong, giving insight into Chun-Li's earlier life and showing her privileged childhood in Hong Kong, where she trained to be a concert pianist and was …
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
posted in MovieSucktastic
Bad casting, bad use of characters that are nothing like they're video game counterparts, not a lot of action and not enough characters from the series are used. Maybe thats a good thing since they too would have been mangled. More proof that if you want to adapt a comic or video game to a movie, know the source material first.
review by . August 29, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
For whatever reason, film adaptations of video games tend not to make good movies. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li follows this rule all to closely. The plot is pretty weak - basically Chun Li (Kristen Kreuk) fighting to save her father from Bison (Chris Klein), who oddly enough is an evil corporate gangster in a three-piece suit in the film - not the guy in the red military uniform from the game. Furthermore, Bison's alleged powers come from having transfered his conscience to his daughter …
review by . June 28, 2009
I very rarely do this with my reviews, but to save you the time of reading about everything wrong with this movie, I'll give you a couple of words to sum it up at the start. This was just awful, really awful. In fact, it was so awful I would rather sit through a 1 and a half hour Matthew McConaughey movie. Now that brief hatred is over, I'll begin to tell you just exactly what I hated about this movie in separated paragraphs. Sort of like bullet points, only filled with 50% more hatred.    The …
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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li gives insight into Chun-Li's (Kristin Kreuk) life before becoming a fighter.  It shows her privileged childhood in Hong Kong, where she trains to be a concert pianist and is taught martial arts by her father.  Everything is great until her well-connected father is kidnapped by the evil M. Bison (Neal McDonough) and his henchmen.  Chun-Li ends up attending Julliard and does live her dream of being a concert pianist in Hong Kong.  However, after her mother passes, she becomes lost and feels like there's something more for her.  Eventually, she is guided to Bangkok, where she trains with Gen (Robin Shue).  Her new goals in life are to find her father and to take down M. Bison and his evil empire, who have wreaked havoc on the streets of Bangkok for much too long.

The origin story of the characters from Capcom’s popular Street Fighter video game is detailed in The Legend of Chun-Li, a live-action martial arts thriller from Doom helmer Andrzej Bartkowiak.Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk gives a spirited turn in the title role, a concert pianist turned global crime fighter who cracks her share of heads while in pursuit of the mobsters who have kidnapped her father. Neal McDonough and Michael Clarke Duncan glower effectively as Bison, the nefarious mastermind behind the abduction, and his henchman, Balrog, respectively. The film’s offbeat cast, which includes Chris Klein and Moon Bloodgood as ...
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Details

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Release Date: February 27, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: June 30, 2009
Runtime: 1 hr. 37 min.
Studio: 20th Century Fox Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox
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