Monday, November 9, 2009

Getting Better by Being Worse: The Legend of Chun Li

Well this weekend I finally got to see Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I knew from the previews and the short stay in theaters that this movie was a flop, but I thought it was going to be one of those, “It’s so bad it’s good” movies. Unfortunately, the movie just stays at “It’s so bad.”

First off, the movie tries really hard to be the next action adventure, romance, drama movie of epic proportions, but instead it falls flat on its face without capturing the essence of any of the aforementioned genres. I feel that the jack of all trades master of none approach to winning over the audience was a big reason why this movie did so poorly. I wish I could say that was the only reason for this movie being so terrible, but that’s not the case. The movie suffers from uneven pacing, poor characterization, lame effects, bad uses of flash backs, and a forced lesbian dance scene that looked more like the chicken dance then a raunchy attempt to keep teenage boys captivated. The list goes on, but I don’t have time to pick apart every reason why this movie was an epic fail.

So if the movie was so bad, why didn’t it become good? To borrow some insight from 30 Rock, the Chun Li movie didn’t climb down into the crevasse. For those of you who don’t watch the show, Jack Donaghy, one of the main characters, tries to advise his star employee about getting out of a difficult situation. He says:

"Some times the way back up is down. Let me tell you a story. It’s 1994 and I went ice climbing and I fell into a crevasse. I hurt my leg and I couldn’t climb back up. So fighting every natural instinct, doing what seemed most awful to me I climbed down--into the darkness and that’s how I got out."

The moral of that story is sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do in order to achieve our goals. If we follow this metaphor, the Chun Li movie tried to climb out of the crevasse by trying to appeal to everyone. Instead, it should have climbed deeper into the crevasse and focused on the niche market of nerds who already like the Street Fighter series.

Here are 4 ways the movie could have climbed deeper into the crevasse.

  1. Special moves-The movie only featured three of Street Fighter’s recognizable special moves. When I think of Chun Li I automatically think of her rapid kicking ability, yet for some reason her signature kick didn’t make the cut. If they really wanted to push this movie past the bad and into the good zone they should have had a lot of crazy over the top special attacks. Example: Have Bison, the movies antagonist, flying around the screen surrounded in a rainbow colored aura or have him leaping into the and stomping on people’s heads....hilarious, right?
  2. Music-There was no Street Fighter music in the entire movie. Would it have been so hard to update a few of the 16-bit songs? At the very least Chun Li’s stage music should have been incorporated somehow. Even if the director was completely lazy he should have thrown the original game music somewhere in the movie.
  3. Plot-Because the movie tried to be so many things to so many people the plot was very watered down. Considering the ridiculous storylines that come from the fabled fighter, I think the writers could have picked a more interesting plot or embellished the one they were already using. I don’t know Chun Li’s complete story off hand, but let me share Cammy’s story as an example of where the movie could have gone. Bison clones himself, but the clone (Cammy), unaware of her origin escapes his clutches and eventually seeks out Bison for the soul purpose of killing him. When she confronts him, she feels oddly attracted to him and then proceeds to pummel him to death. Crazy I know, but a story line like that could have made the movie a winning loser.
  4. Fans-The biggest thing they could have done was cater to the fans. It was very off putting to see characters not look or act the way they are depicted in the video games. Bison, for instance, was portrayed as a less than menacing blond blue eyed CEO. If you’re going to make a movie about something that already has an established fan base, you should maybe consider not alienating them in hopes of getting money from the casual movie goer.

I know it doesn't look like one, but this post was suppose to be a review. Let me just wrap things up by saying this movie was bad, don’t waste your time with it. If you want to watch a Street Fighter movie go watch the 1994 version. At least it was entertaining even if it wasn't good. I’m giving Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li 1 spinning bird kick out of 5

(1 out 5, that’s a first for Nerd Synthesis history. Congratulations Legend of Chun Li you suck)

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