Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak. Starring Kristin Kreuk, Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Robin Shou, Moon Bloodgood, Josie Ho, Taboo, Michael Clarke Duncan. (2009, PG-13, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 6, 2009
Based, in name only, on the classic Capcom video game, this kinda-sorta sequel to 1994's Jean-Claude Van Damme-meets-Kylie Minogue kick-fest is set in Bangkok – one of the few cities in the world where you can aim your camera at a lint ball in the gutter and end up with a neon-streaked, hyper-saturated, dead sexy action-adventure film. So it boggles the mind that The Legend of Chun-Li is as vapid and dull as it is. This film is jaggedly edited, poorly paced, and, above all, as underwhelming (if less cartoonish) a martial arts movie as its predecessor, which at least had the late Raul Julia going for it. Van Damme is nowhere to be found here; his career's back on track now that somebody finally figured out the man can do more than high kicks and low comedy (e.g., JCVD). Director Bartkowiak has had some previous experience helming video-game-inspired crap action films (Doom), but the former director of photography on Terms of Endearment and Prizzi's Honor must be hanging tough with Uwe Boll these days, because Street Fighter is laden with such godawful dialogue (and worse line readings), a lame vendetta plot that was ancient prior to the Khmer Empire, and such a witless and scattershot narrative sense that it makes Capcom's original arcade game seem a paragon of verisimilitude. Smallville's Kreuk is easy on the eyes and memory as Chun-Li, a Hong Kong concert pianist who transforms herself into a two-fisted killing machine after her father is abducted by Thai crime kingpin and real-estate developer Bison (McDonough). Tutored in the finer points of fucking shit up shoryuken-style by Gen (Shou, of Mortal Kombat), Chun-Li heads to Bangkok to save Daddy, while being shadowed by a pair of relatively more traditional law-enforcement officers (Klein, too hipster to believe, and Bloodgood, too gorgeous to ignore) on their own Bison hunt. Poorly edited action sequences and discharging firearms ensue. I want my quarter back.