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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Andrzej Bartkowiak

Moon Bloodgood, Edmund Chen, Michael Clarke Duncan, Josie Ho, Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Brendan Miller, Robin Shou, Kristin Kreuk, Russell Geoffrey Banks, Taboo, Pei-pei Cheng, Tim Man

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
February 28th, 2009

About the best thing I can say about this movie is that it is superior to the atrocious 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damne vehicle, which likely contributed to the death of Raul Julia. The release of this film coincides with the release of Street Fighter IV, the latest addition to Capcom's incredibly popular fighting game franchise, which has been around for nearly 20 years. OK, so Chun-Li is not Asian here (except when she is shown as a Chinese girl in the opening shots), and that makes no goddamn sense at all. She is played by the likable and pretty Kristin Kreuk (from Smallville), and is on a quest for vengeance, up against powerful crime boss Bison (Neal McDonough), who heads an organization called Shadaloo.

Raul Julia played Bison in the earlier flick, which brought in a lot of other Street Fighter characters, like Vega, Sagat, Honda, Zangief, Dhalsim, Blanka, Guile, Dee-Jay, Ken, and Ryu; here, about all we get outside of Bison and Chun-Li is Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan). Chun-Li is a skilled martial artist, of course, but her dream is to be a concert pianist; her father, Xiang (Edmund Chen) disappears when she is a child, and is presumed dead, but he is actually still alive, and she goes looking for him. She travels to Bangkok, meets up with Gen (Robin Shou, from Mortal Kombat), leader of the secretive Order of the Web, Interpol agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein), and homicide detective Maya (Moon Bloodgood).

I liked the idea of a tough female character carrying an action flick, but shuddered when I thought of the bad sequels that could spawn from this. The action consists of a few fight scenes, and a combination of chases, explosions, and shoot-outs, all the usual stuff, not done especially well, and there is more of a focus on the backstory screenwriter Justin Marks had to create for Chun-Li, at least initially, but clumsy attempts at character development are frequent, aided by pointless and ludicrous narration (delivered by Kreuk), which describes even the most blatantly obvious things occurring onscreen. McDonough makes for a lousy, forgettable villain; Julia's approach to the role involved wild-eyed lunacy, maniacal laughter, and self-aggrandizing monologues, but then his Bison was a military dictator. McDonough's Bison is one of those rich business types that sip wine and eat caviar, oblivious to the carnage around him, but both Bisons share a sense of invulnerability, and both indeed underestimate Chun-Li when it comes time for a fateful showdown. Duncan is truly awful, and what a shame, to think he once played John Coffey in Frank Darabont's adaptation of The Green Mile. Balrog is a dimwitted buffoon.

Klein, feigning intensity, imbues Nash with a smarmy quality that one might associate more closely with an antagonist, instead of with someone who is supposed to be one of the good guys. At least the cinematography is nice, with vivid, authentic depictions of the exotic locales. Martial arts sequences are decently choreographed, but corny and unoriginal. Admittedly, if you buy a ticket for this, it will probably not defy your understandably low expectations, but I doubt it will serve as an adequate entertainment, since you must wade through so much narrative padding, to get to what you would actually wish to see.

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