Tekken Review

Kazuya (Ian Anthony Dale) is one of those futuristic CEOs who bides his time watching ratings graphs suddenly jolt skyward as a broadcast fight becomes more intense. In Tekken’s case, that happens a lot when his own son is battling against the chosen few from rival corporations. Jin (Jon Foo) is the anti-establishment type, generating some daddy issues as the tournament moves on.

Kazuya decides he wants Jin dead… except that’s not clear why. Kazuya himself seems to care little for this world now controlled by divided corporate entities, only the profits they can bring to him. If his own son is the star, sending those implausible ratings charts skyward, why kill him?

It’s no surprise Tekken is filled with fanciful fights and not much else, this video game adaptation about as stiff as the source material. The script, attributed to Alan B. McElroy, pushes forward with plenty of sex, selling the film on the female cast clad in tight leather (or nothing at all). Tekken is all about marketing itself, odd since the story is about the rise of the general populace against their financially stable oppressors.

Fights occur because they have to, choreographed cleanly and free of generally schizo editing. Stylish kicks, flips, and weapon strikes are at least given their time in front of the camera, the closest Tekken will come to being entertaining.

When the fists aren’t flying, neither is the movie, a boring trek through an apocalyptic future that provides holographic, stadium-sized screens to the slums, yet leaves the housing alone. Of course, it doesn’t say much when you open the film on a different future, one that Vin Diesel went haywire in. Yes, Tekken opens with stock shots from XXX, and they didn’t even try to color time it differently.

Tekken rounds out the major video game fighting offerings, this aside from Soul Calibur. Hollywood has now soundly trounced Dead or Alive, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter, enough that they should probably quit while they’re ahead. It would be doing all involved a favor.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Anchor Bay has the unfortunate association with this one, captured digitally with the CineAlta series. Tekken actually had a sterling budget behind it, an unbelievable $35 million, so it’s a wonder why it doesn’t look the part. Director Dwight H. Little is hopefully gunning for that gritty, edgy future, which is the only excuse for the excessive and unbearable level of noise draped across every image. Special effects shots aside (it’s expected), low light is a nightmare for this poor AVC encode that never stood a chance.

It hampers not only the clarity digital can afford to offer a movie, but whatever detail was present in those wide angled arenas or cityscapes. Black levels, inconsistent and unimpressive, do little to help the screen from being swallowed by a swarm of digital insects. There’s also the possibility Tekken has a slight layer of sharpening applied, edges especially harsh and the mild halos that result just pouring on the visual pain.

There are saviors here, first and foremost the bold, rich color which is a change of pace from these drab, saturation-deficient futures as of late. Neon lights surround the makeshift battlegrounds, and flesh tones carry a pleasing, natural look. Blood isn’t exaggerated although it’s surely hard to miss, a sure sign the primaries have met their goals.

Facial detail is also impressive, significantly more so in the latter half. Close-ups resolve an extensive, precise level of high-fidelity marks, and even with a little distance, sweaty bodies contain visible droplets of perspiration. Isn’t that why you spent all the money on a high tech home theater system? Tekken more or less rebounds, splitting itself down video quality lines, and the final impression is, at the least, a positive one.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

Despite hardly ever showing any (outside of stock footage), this TrueHD effort adores helicopters. They’re a constant presence above the city, the ever-watchful corporate eye keeping tabs on the lowly citizens. Streets are relatively lively, and the crowds that cheer on the tournament combatants prove satisfying. The surrounds are certainly vivid and remain active, adding some audio depth to the blandness of the punches and kicks that sit in the center.

Dialogue is precisely balanced, although a times with a cost. A conversation in the hallways of the arena at 42:20 is scratchy, seemingly the result of a quick fix in post for some lines that weren’t recorded properly. It’s a little jumbled, although thankfully contained to that single sequence.

Tekken blows some stuff up, the first boomer at 16:07 digging into the low end for all its worth for a technically proficient jolt. The rumble has a way of building itself as the flames spread, accentuating the hottest part. It’s odd then that a grenade launcher assault at 1:07:37 doesn’t even register, the pops from the weapons and ensuing explosions a mere pittance compared to what came before. Some of the punches pack more of a wallop. This one is just skirting by.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

An episode of the TV show Stunt Stars is included in full, all of it focused on Tekken. It’s actually more interesting than the finished product, and you’ll be better served watching this hour-long presentation than the main feature. A trailer is the only other extra.

Extras ★★☆☆☆