Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Part 3

So this is it.  This is my third attempt at getting through this movie.  I've been bored, I've been angry, I've been slightly interested in things that I don't think I was supposed to be interested in, and I'm left with more questions than answers about just how this movie came to be.

Sadly, the podcast How Did This Get Made is yet to tell me so far how this movie got made, so I'm at a loss.  I can't even fathom how nobody looked at the script and went "are you serious?"

I can't help but get a sneaking suspicion that the answer might lie in "somebody had a movie they wanted to make, and the only way to get it made was to license it to something else."

So, yeah, that's all I have for an introduction.  Let's try to complete this train wreck.

When we last left off, the two police officers that we still know nothing about and have been completely useless up to this point were "taken off the case."  Bison has a mysterious package on his way, by which I mean "mysterious only if you haven't been paying attention and fell sleep when he described how long it was since he last saw it."  Oh, and Chun-Li was captured, her father was dead, and Gen was blown up.

Clearly, things are not going well for our protagonists.

Having murdered Chun-Li's father in front of her, Bison leaves the disposal of Chun-Li to Balrog and a few goons.  Again, Balrog is one of the few people I actually enjoy having on screen, and while he is playing a villain who's undoubtedly murdered people (like, say, Gen, or his own crew), there's that childlike happiness that he always seems to have that makes it really hard to hate him.  Even when he's assigned to "dispose" of Chun-Li, he pats her fondly on the head and asks if there's anything she wants to say "before they get this over with."

He's not happy they're going to kill her.  In fact, he likes her, considering she beat the crap out of Vega.  It's one of those "too bad" pats on the head, like "in another life we could've been buds."

Pictured: This movie's idea of a "bonding moment."
I was going to say "could have been friends" but the movie's a bit too shallow for that.

Balrog leaves the "ending her life" to his goons, but Chun-Li only needs about ten seconds to get free from her ropes (while being hung upside down, naturally), and is soon involved in a street chase through Bangkok.  Two of Bison's men start chasing her, but between their inability to shoot things and her ability to not trip over things four feet from her, she has them clearly outmatched.  The goons pretty much pinball their way through the crowd, flipping tables for no reason and shoving people away.

This, naturally, leads to an angry crowd of people forming up behind them who think "hey, they can't hit anything with those guns, let's form a mob and chase them!"

Chun-Li manages to make her way to a small square when Balrog pulls up in his car, climbs out, and points a gun at Chun-Li despite the fact that he could clearly take her in a fight.  Chun-Li seems prepared to leap out of the way when the Stupidest Kid In The World makes his appearance.

This kid. THIS KID.  I hate this kid!
This scene right here embodies everything wrong with the movie.  See, Chun-Li is standing in the middle of the square, with nowhere to go.  Balrog gets out of his car, pulls out a gun, and points it at Chun-Li.  It's at this moment that the kid kicks his ball across the square, but doesn't immediately run after it.  Reacting quickly and without thinking, I'd be okay with that.  It shows a poor ability to survive in a hostile environment since this is normally a bustling intersection, but whatever.

Instead, the kid waits until Balrog's gun is raised and then starts to run across the street between the large man holding a gun and the only other person in the intersection.  Chun-Li immediately flips, steps forward, and grabs the kid to shield him with her body, getting shot in what is clearly her shoulder.

But it gets worse.  A woman who looks a bit like the woman Chun-Li gave money to finally decides enough is enough.  It's time to stand up to bullies who gun down women in the streets.  So she picks up a durian with both hands, lifts it over her head, and throws it at Balrog.

Now, normally I'd mock the fact that Balrog would be knocked back by a piece of fruit.  To the movie's credit, she did throw a durian.  Look at those things.  They're bowling balls covered in spikes.  Yeah, I bet it hurts to get hit by one of those things.

It's at this moment that Balrog's two guys from earlier show up with an angry mob after them throwing rocks and other fruit while anybody holding a melee weapon just stands back and waves it angrily.

Don't kid yourself, "Guy With Sledgehammer."  You're not contributing jack.
Chun-Li manages to slip out of the growing mob and wanders down an alley.  Since she was shot in the back in the shoulder, she is of course holding her side like she was shot in the abdomen.  I'm sorry, but considering she had to step forward a few steps and based on the angle the gun was pointed a bit down at, if she got shot in the side, it means Balrog was either trying to shoot her in the leg or in the crotch.

This is where Gen suddenly materializes out of nowhere, gets a brief "You're alive" and helps Chun-Li down the street to safety.  Apparently he lets her sleep for a while before deciding to simply heal the graze on her arm (which is clearly CG'ed on) with his mystical healing powers, to which Chun-Li reacts with all the excitement and amazement I would have if someone showed off a shirt they bought at Goodwill.  Not even a good shirt, just one that's comfortable.

That night while meditating and making balls of fire with their hands, Gen decides to help.  They go back to the shipyards where Chun-Li once again bullies the guy working there into giving her information.  He explains that a ship from Murmansk is going to arrive soon with the cargo, but when he points to a schedule on the whiteboard, it reads "Sverlovsk," which is a city three thousand miles away from Murmansk.  It took me several minutes staring at the screen to realize that must be the name of the ship, which means he could clearly be lying to Chun-Li since nothing on the board indicates where any of the ships are coming from.

Chun-Li then manages to locate the Interpol safe house where Nash is hanging out an- wait.  Wait, wait, wait.

Look, I don't care that Nash is drinking.  I don't care if that's the finest bourbon in the world or apricot schnapps.  I don't care that his ice is huge compared to the size of his glass.  What's that picture in the background?  Is that a daughter he had to leave behind as he continues this hunt for Bison?  Is that a blurry picture of a young girlfriend back home wearing a baggy jersey?  Is that his sister?  You have a chance to give us some background, movie, a reason to care about these characters, and you're wasting it!

So Chun-Li shows up out of nowhere, Nash doesn't immediately arrest her, and instead agrees to be her "backup" as the shipment comes in.  They commandeer the dock worker's office (after handcuffing him to a chair...why is he working the day shift and the evening shift?) and are set up when Maya and Thailand's equivalent of a SWAT team show up to provide additional troops.  How she knew they were there, who knows.

Bison and his military group show up right when Nash realizes there's a bomb in the room with them, and everybody evacuates so they get a big dramatic explosion. did the guy handcuffed to a chair get out?  Answer: he didn't, they just forgot about him and he was gone from all scenes after the one where he was handcuffed, so yeah, he's dead.

Immediately cops start getting gunned down by Bison's troops, they start shooting back, and Chun-Li suddenly shows up trying to kick people and needing to be saved by Nash when her enemies remember "hey, we have guns!"

Chun-Li and Gen move on to infiltrate the ship Bison is waiting for, but on a neighboring vessel Chun-Li finds a girl speaking Russian.

Gee, I wonder if she's relevant to anything in the story.
Gen gets into a fight with Balrog, who gives up that by the time they figure out what "White Rose" is, "she'll" be long gone...which, to be fair, Balrog was standing in public yelling top secret information earlier in this movie.  He's not that bright.

Maya gets shot in the arm (apparently arms are the only things not bulletproof), and Nash spots a helicopter taking off and instantly knows that Bison's on board.   Gen manages to kill Balrog with...I dunno, a hose full of liquid nitrogen?  It doesn't make any sense, so I'm moving on.  Gen and Chun-Li figure out who the girl was (Bison's daughter?  Named ROSE?  Gasp!  I'm stunned!) and they climb onto a helicopter to go after Bison.

This is, of course, when a thunderstorm starts to roll in, because nature knows when things are about to get exciting.

Bison gets a chance to talk to his daughter and...okay, look, I know that they're playing up the mystical side of the movie and saying Rose is Bison's "only weakness," but it really looks like he's doting on her and cares about her.  He talks about her mother (who, okay, yeah, he killed) but points out that he wears the ring she gave him and that Rose is as beautiful as she was.  I like it when bad guys gave things that make them human, an this is one of the few times that Bison doesn't have a tiger constantly growling as he moves.  Or if he does, I didn't notice it.

Gen gets into a fight with Bison, and promptly gets his butt handed to him despite being able to throw fireballs around with ease.  Nash recovers Rose from the room that Bison put her in.  Gen confronts Bison again (rendering the last fight pointless) but once again gets his butt handed to him, which is when Chun-Li shows up and unleashes her wushu skills on Bison, beating him up with a pole of bamboo.

Bison and Chun-Li trade blows back and forth for a while, until Chun-Li gets some concrete dust in his eyes.  Bison staggers around like he's drunk, and Chun-Li takes advantage of the break in fighting to summon up a big mystical energy ball and blast Bison with it, sending him flying.  Bison falls down a story onto a scaffolding and lies there, broken, beaten.

Rose and Nash come outside, Rose cries out "father!" since, y'know, she just MET him and obviously thinks he's the greatest guy in the world and these strangers are beating him up for no clear reason yet.

So, the fight's over, Chun-Li has captured the biggest crime boss in the world, Interpol gets to take their man in and interrogate him so they can bring down his criminal empire, locate all of his lieutenants, and bring peace to the world, a- what?  What's that?

Chun-Li, fully aware that Rose is watching, decides to jump down and snap Bison's neck with her ankles, twisting his head around 180 degrees?

Holy crap, movie.  What's wrong with you?  The bad guy was defeated!  He was all but in custody!  If he resisted arrest, THEN you shoot him, but when he's lying there, limp, not even able to raise his arm as he struggles to reach towards his daughter who, I'll point out, didn't even really matter to the plot considering how they played her up...where was I?  Oh, right.

Chun-Li just murdered Bison.  With a neck snap, just like he did her father.  Congratulations, Chun-Li, you totally failed to put aside your anger and got revenge, not justice.

Oh, and the slums are probably still being bulldozed, since I don't think having the CEO of a large multinational corporation be killed by someone who isn't a cop means the entire company shudders to a halt.

Nash is perfectly fine with her killing the subject of his manhunt, and promises to cover for her while she and Gen sneak off.  Oh, and Rose is brought over to stand with Nash, with her dead father's corpse about fifteen feet above them, blood running out of his mouth and dripping onto the ground.

Chun-Li gets to bury her father next to her mother, references Batman Begins again, and moves back in to her mansion.  Gen shows up and asks if she's interested in investigating a "street fighter" tournament that someone took out a classified ad for (seriously) and says there's a guy in Japan named "Ryu....something" who they should try to recruit.  Chun-Li turns him down, and they have the following exchange:

"Does that mean you're done fighting?"

"No.  For now, I'm home."

That- that doesn't really make sense.  That essentially means "yes, for now."

Movie ends, and I'm finally done with this.

The Good:

Michael Clarke Duncan as Balrog.  He's so giddy in every scene, I think he was just happy to be in a movie, it didn't matter what the dialogue was or how bad everybody else's acting was.  He was loving it.

The opening fight was pretty neat, and I was torn to put this into the "bad" section because it built up hope that the rest of the movie's fights were going to be good.  But they weren't.  It set a pretty high bar that the rest of the movie wasn't able to meet, often even halfway.

I- okay, I can't really say it's good, but I will discuss something else in the "Overall" section about the plot.  Just- just go read that.

Um....Moon Bloodgood's always nice to look at.  She does "sexy and confident" really well.

The Bad:

"Everything else?"

Okay, let's look at a few specifics.  The wire-fu fighting is atrocious.  The dialogue makes no sense.   Most of the acting is terrible.  The plot was written by someone who just watched other, better movies (Kill Bill, Batman Begins, etc.) and ripped off all the scenes he liked.  None of the characters are who they're supposed to be in the games except for a select few, and even those people are almost unrecognizable.

Then there's Chris Klein as Nash.  I wanted to focus on him in particular, because apparently someone read the script and thought "you know who should play Nash?  Nicholas Cage."  Then they were told they couldn't get Nicholas Cage, so the audition process was "give me your best Nicholas Cage impression."  Chris Klein looks like Christian Slater and Nicholas Cage had a child together and it grew up thinking that Cage's performance in Face/Off was the greatest acting in history.


Okay, look.  If this wasn't a Street Fighter movie, it would still be bad, but it wouldn't be as bad.  If you stripped out the mysticism and the attempts to placate the fanboys with stuff like fireballs and spinning bird kicks, the movie would still be bad, but it wouldn't be as atrocious.  Neal McDonough makes a fine villain, I like a lot of the stuff he does in this film where he acts kind but projects menace simply with his eyes or with his posture.  He's great, but he's not Bison.   But I do get that they knew everybody was going to compare him to Raul Julia, so in a way they had to take him in a completely different direction.  Neal McDonough is more menacing than Raul Julia (an aging man with cancer, remember) was, and he actually looks like he could power his way through a martial arts fight with his muscular build.

If they had a better martial artist play Kristin Kreuk's role and didn't call her "Chun-Li," you'd have a great story of a woman getting revenge against a nearly untouchable crime kingpin.  They'd just have to add in a bit of humor to lighten it up some so we'd have something to balance out all the drama happening all the time, have the training sequence actually involve some training instead of just "the girl can almost instantly do everything by simply "trying hard," and you're set.  There's a good story here, it just shouldn't be saddled with the title "Street Fighter" and needs a better cast.

All in all, it's bad.  It's really, really bad.  Is it worse than Street Fighter?  Well, Street Fighter was hilarious when it wasn't trying to be, and its attempts at loyalty to the brand were usually laughable when they weren't insultingly bad or racist.  This movie tries to take a fresh spin on the characters and tell a newer story with them, and falls flat on its face into a pile of horse manure.

I- I'm not really sure.  Maybe I'll have to do a breakdown of the two and see which one comes out on top.  But for now, I'm done.

No comments: