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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tekken Movie Review

Tekken Movie
On some level, Tekken the game works as a live action movie. It’s a straight-up tournament, no magic fireballs or speed-of-light punches, so it was probably a breeze to translate into full-length feature film. But there’s a difference between turning a video game into a movie and turning a video game into an entertaining movie.

And for Tekken, the difference both makes and breaks it.

Tekken tells the story of Jin Kazama, a street rat living his days as a courier for illegal wares in a world where major wars left the world in ruins and global megacorporations stepped up to fill the void of leadership. In this dystopian future, the poor live in shanty towns under the iron heel of the corporations, and today’s commodities like chocolate and fruits are rare and hella expensive. To help distract people from their hellish existence, the Iron Fist Tournament was created by the Tekken Corporation. Of course, Jin wants nothing to do with the tournament. But when his mother was murdered during an anti-dissident raid by the Tekken Corporation, Jin decides to enter the tournament to avenge her death at their hands.

It’s refreshing to see a video game film that at least gives credit to the game it was based on. Fans will not be disappointed when they see the costumes and the sets and the actors they cast. Jin’s got his red gloves, Eddy Gordo still does capoeira, Christie Monteiro (played by the sexy Kelly Overton) is smoking hot, and Bryan Fury looks exactly like Bryan Fury it’s scary. And the action? No pretty people pulling punches to avoid breaking nails here. The action is brutal and intense, and Jon Woo (who plays Jin Kazama) pulls his share of the weight in flashy fight scenes.

Tekken Movie
Unfortunately, a poorly-written story undermines every shred of accuracy they've worked so hard for. Jin’s motivations are made shallow by an even shallower plot riddled with unnecessary plot points. The Jin-Christie Monteiro love angle was introduced and forgotten just as quickly. Good acting would have saved this, but wooden and cheeky performances kill most of the drama.

I’m divided with this movie, something that’s never happened to me before. In one hand, the characters, the costume accuracy and the action definitely lift this above the usual video game movie fare. On the other hand, the lame story underscores how corny the concept of the Iron Fist Tournament is. For someone like me who's never played the game before, Tekken's got the look of a champion, but it's all flash and no substance.

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