I am starting to sense a pattern forming this week. Mortal Kombat was quite fun. MK: Annihilation was quite terrible. Street Fighter was very fun. Legend of Chun-Li? Well you can probably already take a guess. Even though the first Street Fighter movie was not particularly well reviewed, it did do decent numbers at the box office but a sequel never materialised. There are animated films (we’ll get to that in the FAAAR future, maybe) but it took fifteen years before they attempted another Street Fighter movie, this one with a focus on Chun-Li and her origins. This was not a Street Fighter movie but it was to be the catalyst for a new series of films based on the franchise. Unfortunately, this film was both poorly received AND it bombed at the cinema. What went wrong?

I am not an expert on the lore of Street Fighter but I have played a lot to know that it features a bunch of bright and colourful characters having a fight until someone is crowned the winner. Sometimes they beat up cars. The first film may not have had a scene with Jean-Claude Van Damme roundhouse kicking a car repeatedly (another shortcoming of an otherwise perfect movie) but it was a bright and colourful movie. Legend of Chun-Li came out not long after Dark Knight taught action movies that they had to be dark and brooding if they want to be good. The result was a long string of unfun movies who could not understand what made that film great. Legend of Chun-Li is not a terrible film but it is an absolute slog to get through and that’s somehow worse.

The Legend of Chun-Li starts when Chun-Li’s (Kristin Kreuk) father is kidnapped in front of her by M. Bison (Neal McDonough). She grows up to be a promising concert pianist when she receives a mysterious scroll. After getting the contents of said scroll translated, she goes to the slums of Bangkok where Bison’s organisation is taking over. She meets Gen (Robin Shou, an old friend of this series) who helps to train her martial arts ability. Meanwhile, Interpol agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) and Thai Police detective Maya Sunee (Moon Goodblood) are investigating Bison’s activities as he prepares for an important shipment containing something he calls the White Rose to come in. Also involved is Balrog, played by Michael Clarke Duncan and on Bison’s side this time as is Vega who has a small role and is played by Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas for some reason.

The problem with a film like this is that nothing is good but everything is quite competently made, which makes this a hard film to talk about. I didn’t like it, and it’s been about three hours since I finished watching it and I’m struggling to remember a large part of the film. It’s boring and that’s a shame because Street Fighter should not be afraid of being ridiculous. Some more colour, a lighter tone and some actual character would have done this film a favour.

Let’s start with the major thing here – Bison. The first film’s Bison is over the top evil but played so well by an incredible actor who was clearly having a blast playing the role. Contrast that to this Bison which is a lot less fun in his evilness – they are both psychotic who do not really think of what they are doing as evil – but this one is trying to make him a dark villain and the result is that he doesn’t feel like the Bison we know and love. It feels like a completely different character.

Chun-Li is not really given a chance to explore her character much either – bad things will happen to her, it’ll affect her for a few seconds and then she’s back to her normal state. Her abilities grow throughout the film but her character does not and it’s not through lack of trying either. The detectives Nash and Maya are just there to add more people, Chris Klein is a weird choice for this role too and he spends most of the film coming across as a creep than a detective. Taboo gets his name on the opening credits but he’s really only there for one scene and then is gone forever. Balrog ends up being one of the only fun characters in the film but that should be “fun” in quotation marks so large it can. Michael Clarke Duncan’s latter career was taking on just about any role that came his way, despite normally being better than the film he was in and this was a prime case for that.

Robin Shou is not a great actor by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a likeable actor and I don’t know if it’s because I’ve just watched the two Mortal Kombat films but I smiled when I saw him for the first time here. Basically every decent fight scene in this film was one that he was a part of – this is the only actor that they really got the best out of.

There really is not much to talk about with this one unfortunately. There was an effort there but the talent just wasn’t and the result is a movie that is pretty much largely forgotten about. It ends with a sequel hook that never looked likely of happening. I like the characters of Street Fighter and a part of me is looking forward to one day watching the animated films but this fails to be a decent Street Fighter movie. Even if you changed the names though, you would only be left with a forgettable action movie. Shame.


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