When I heard that Seth Rogen was already remaking Paul Blart: Mall Cop, I knew Hollywood was scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas, but it wasn’t until I saw a trailer for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li that I realized just how bad things have gotten.
How do movies like this get made? Who decided that we needed another Street Fighter movie? What genius movie executive convinced himself that the American public was really clamoring for a movie based on an outdated video game with an incredibly flimsy plot that only serves to set up boring, repetitive 2D fight sequences?
It’s not even like the characters in the game are remotely interesting – sure, they all had unique powers and fighting styles, but the characters themselves are mostly generic racial stereotypes (a white clean-cut U.S. soldier, an Asian woman skilled in martial arts, a skinny Indian pacifist, an African American boxer, etc.) And the fight scenes in the game were interesting, but not as memorable as those found in Mortal Kombat (which, not coincidentally, was also made into a terrible movie).
Making matters worse, they already made a Street Fighter movie back in 1994 and even though it starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and the late Raul Julia, it still tanked. The new film stars Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li. Kreuk is from Vancouver, but if you squint (not that we endorse racial stereotypes), I guess she looks vaguely Asian enough to play the Chinese character.
In case you were wondering about Chun Li’s backstory (which I know you weren’t, but please play along), according to Wikipedia, she is an undercover Interpol agent who enters the Street Fighter tournament to get to its founder, M. Bison, who she believes is responsible for her father’s death. Wikipedia goes on to say that she was the first playable female character in a fighting game and was named fourth on Gamefly’s “Hottest Chicks Ever” list (and yes, I’m still talking about the fictional character and not the actress Kristin Kreuk – apparently the people over at Gamefly have a lot of free time on their hands).
Who is this M. Bison, you are no doubt not asking yourself right now because you have most likely given up on this article two paragraphs ago? Again, according to our old friend Wikipedia, M. Bison is a crime boss who aspires to one day be a world dictator. Apparently, one afternoon he got tired of trying to rule the world and decided to host a brutal fight tournament to amuse himself (I believe UFC was created in a similar fashion). M. Bison wields “psycho power” (much like Courtney Love), “an evil energy which manifests as blue or purple flames and electricity.” PC World named him the 30th most diabolical video game villain of all time (and I’m sure he was pissed to not make Gamefly’s list of “Hottest Dudes Ever,” which could be how he came to be so diabolical).
M. Bison is played by Neal McDonough, who was fantastic as the unstable David McNorris in Boomtown, which sadly got canceled after just 24 episodes. After that, he was great playing the villain in The Rock’s remake of Walking Tall, but hasn’t done much since. It’s a shame that he hasn’t had a bigger career, since I think the guy is immensely talented, but something tells me that his role as M. Bison isn’t going to be the job the catapults him into superstardom.
Speaking of actors I like who should have better careers, Michael Clarke Duncan is also in this film playing Balrog. Balrog wears boxing gloves and trunks in the game and is basically a Mike Tyson clone (in fact, in the Japanese version of the game, this character was named Mike Bison – a.k.a. M. Bison – but the American version of the game switched the names around to avoid getting sued by Tyson for copyright infringement). As the Green Mile proved, Duncan is such a capable and charismatic actor, so it seems like a waste to give him such a boring, stereotypical thug role.
So if you want to see Michael Clarke Duncan hulk-smash things or Neal McDonough act cartoonishly villainous while Lana Lang does Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style fight scenes, then this is certainly the movie for you. However, I will be staying far away from this film.
The irony is that I’m not even against mindless action films. I am someone who will gladly sit down and watch a ridiculous Jason Statham movie like Crank or Transporter 2 and I’m one of the few people in the world who actually owns Demolition Man on DVD, so I’m no stranger to ridiculous action movies. However, I draw the line at a crappy sequel to a movie based on a video game that is directed by a guy whose last film was a shitty adaptation of a video game (Doom, which is one of the worst films I’ve actually paid money to see in the theater).
So how about you spice it up a little bit Hollywood? No one has made Tekken or Virtua Fighter movies yet, why not option one of those? Or better yet, why not at least attempt to make your next mindless action movie slightly original? Because I have to be honest, all of these lazy video game adaptations are enough to make me want to start my own brutal fighting tournament – one where I force all of you uncreative Hollywood types to fight each other to the death.
If nothing else, I figure the tournament is a good first step on my way to being a dictator.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at email@example.com.
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