Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Um, yes, but more obviously? Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It’s not just a one-act show. Street Fighter is all over the place in every category – sort of like a caffeinated Jack Russell terrier in a white room with open paint cans. In all its straight-to-DVD charm, Street Fighter is all I could ever ask for on a lazy, too-tired-to-change-the-channel Friday night.
This 2009 film is based on the video game series, Street Fighter. Dragon ball powers and final-level-boss-fights included. Still, this movie somehow makes it to the credits without the whiff of a sensible plot. Here’s the gist: despite her father being kidnapped when she was just a kid, young Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) grows into a graceful concert pianist. Her career is cast aside, however, after her mother’s death – an event which triggers Chun-Li’s desire to find her father. She moves to Bangkok, adopts a homeless lifestyle, and spends her days and nights searching for the martial arts expert, Gen (Robin Shou). Gen will supposedly know what happened to her father, and will certainly be able to train Chun-Li to fight his kidnapper – the dangerous crime-lord Mr. Bison (Neal McDonough).
Now. The dialogue. Do you like comic books? Have a soft spot for speech bubbles? Love it when people explain what they’re doing rather than just do it? Then you’re in luck! Street Fighter’s lines are clipped, obvious, and very self-serving, like everyone’s lobbying for the last word: “You’re hurting me.” “No – you’re hurting yourself.” Uuuuuugh.
The accents are also a piece of work. It’s set half in China and half in Thailand, but 90% of the characters are native English-speakers. Even Chun-Li, who grew up in China with a Chinese father, can only speak short phrases in Chinese. I attribute this to Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk who makes it look like Chun-Li grew out of being Asian. Mr. Bison also wavers between a solid American accent and something that sounds suspiciously Irish. The two detectives, Nash (Chris Klein, aka budget Keanu Reeves) and Maya (Moon Bloodgood… I kid you not), are also strong, heavily stereotyped, badass Americans. They are probably the worst, most unprofessional cops I have ever seen.
As for Bison (I can’t get enough of that name), he chooses for his right-hand man a giant, deep-voiced, built-like-a-bazooka, goon named Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan). The best part is that Bison trusts Balrog with all of his leg work, including the delivery of classified messages. It doesn’t seem to matter that Balrog is genetically incapable of whispering and has a tendency to share information like, “the secret shipment is due at midnight” in echoing public places.
Being too lazy to roll off the couch and find something better to do, I sat through this film to the very end. It was exactly what I expected from the title: flashy fighting, girl power, Chinese wisdom, and the occasional dance-off. It’s also very colourful.
For lack of imagination but no absence of spirit, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li gets a hearty 3/10.
This review and many many more can also be found at http://thecinemaid.net/2014/02/04/street-fighter-the-legend-of-chun-li-2009/