Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Review

Why is this movie so difficult to make? This is the second round for Capcom’s fighting game franchise in theaters, and the second time it’s completely bombed. At the very least, the infamous Van Damme mess back in 1994 had some camp appeal. This disaster, focusing on Chun-Li, is easily worse purely because of an illogical, stupid, nonsensical script and one of the worst performances in years coming from Chris Klein.

Legend of Chun-Li revolves a young girl whose father is kidnapped at a young age. Now a star piano player, she receives a mysterious scroll, which forces her to investigate Shadaloo, an evil corporation run by Bison (Neal McDonough). The young girl is Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk), and she’s aided by Interpol on her quest to find her father.

For those not in the know, Chun-Li’s backstory in the video game is simple: Her father was murdered by Bison, and she becomes a cop to infiltrate Shadaloo and secure her revenge. Why then is Legend of Chun-Li such an incomprehensible mess? Why is Chun-Li a piano player? It has zero significance on the plot, is totally unnecessary, and makes it harder to believe she’s the fighter with outrageous fighting moves.

On the villain side, Bison is given an even worse backstory, one that has him pulling babies out of his wife’s stomach with his bare hands. Seriously. There’s something going on with his soul, but it’s never explained clearly. His goal is to find his daughter, the same kid he ripped out of the womb and apparently dumped off in the middle of nowhere. What’s his plan? Have her hauled in on boat inside a metal shipping crate.

Seriously.

Never mind the fact that Bison is incredibly wealthy and could have chartered a flight. Never mind the fact that his daughter completely accepts the father who abandoned her as a child. Never mind the fact that Bison was brought up in Thailand as an orphan yet has a small Irish accent.

The story is nothing short of sheer stupidity from one scene to the next. This is also the second Street Fighter movie to shy away from the mystical aspects, briefly bringing in the concept of fireballs, but there are only two characters with this ability. With the weird, cringe-inducing backstory on Bison, one would think this would lead to using some of his abilities from the game on screen, yet his one fight ends up being with a bamboo stick.

Chris Klein and Moon Bloodgood are hilarious as Interpol agents… and they’re not here for their comedy. Klein doesn’t deliver a single line with a shred of believability, at one point seemingly calling forth his best Jim Carrey impression. Their investigation is useless, as the audience knows everything they do long before they become aware of it. Every minute they’re on screen is a waste of time. The height of their dialogue?

Klein: “What orders?”
Bloodgood: “Orders, Nash.”

All of that still doesn’t come close to the infuriating ending. Chun-Li’s mentor Gen (Robin Shu) who is revealed in flashbacks that assumes the audience is incompetent, hands Chun-Li a note. It’s the beginning of the Street Fighter tournament. If that’s the case, why not start the movie with the tournament, and explain this simple “Bison killed my father” development in five minutes of dialogue? Why force audiences to sit through this excruciating movie to get there?

Here’s a tip to Capcom: Remake Enter the Dragon and call it Street Fighter. Wow! That was hard. This is twice the company has tried to break this beloved gaming franchise into film, and twice it has fallen flat on its face. The best part of Legend of Chun-Li? The fan service Capcom logo that comes before the movie starts. Ouch.

Movie ★☆☆☆☆ 

Legend of Chun-Li suffers from two problems on Blu-ray: Noise and contrast spikes. Both are severely detrimental to an otherwise fantastic looking AVC encode.

One past the opening pan shots of the city which have extensive aliasing, the problem is eliminated from further shots. That leaves a razor sharp, heavily detailed transfer that mostly pleases. Black levels are strong with convincing depth and shadow delineation. Flesh tones are occasionally bronzed depending on the lighting situation, likely the director’s color timing choice.

All of the problems are sporadic. There is for an instance a shot of a forest at the 53:30 mark that appears to be a JPEG it is so low in quality. Following that is an especially noisy effects shot at 58:20. Then there are the blinding contrast spikes, washing out detail on backgrounds and faces. It is a typical modern film, although what is done here is especially bothersome. Still, the wonderful amount of texture in the transfer easily makes up for the inconsistencies.

Video ★★★★☆ 

A DTS-HD Master mix is simply booming, delivering incredible low-end thumps no matter how ridiculous they are. Every punch rattles the subwoofer with ferocity. It is powerful and clean, certainly an effective way to test equipment, if not the most logical in terms of the movie.

The surrounds are more than capable of tracking, including well-done ambiance and debris collapsing around the viewer during fights. Market scenes are lively with chatter, and a club sequence feels authentic as it envelopes the viewer. Dialogue is well integrated, clear and sharp throughout.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Extras kick off with a commentary from producers Patrick Aiello and Ashok Amritraj coupled with actors Chris Klein and Neal McDonough. A pop-up trivia track tosses out quips about the game, movie, and characters. Fourteen deleted scenes run just over 15 minutes.

A sneak peak at the upcoming downloadable re-release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is obviously promotional, although anyone who sees the movie will have their feelings on the franchise severely injured. Three featurettes offer details on the making of the film, the game series, Chun-Li herself, and various other small tidbits. All together, there is about 36 minutes of content, with much it being standard studio advertising fluff.

A couple of galleries, including one that compares the actors to the their in-game counterparts is hilarious in showing how far off the film was. Also note the unrated cut of the film is included, adding mere seconds of additional blood and gore.

Extras ★★☆☆☆ 

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