Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

tn_legendofchunliIf I had to choose the better STREET FIGHTER I guess I’d have to go with the newer one, STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN LI. It’s a slick, competently made preboot with TV actress Kristin Kreuk as the young Chun Li. There seems to be more martial arts in the first 8 minutes (when Chun Li is still a kid) than in the entire STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE even if you watched it two times in a row. Could’ve done without Chun Li’s constant voiceover narration through the first half, though.

mp_legendofchunliIn this one Bison is re-unimaginationed as a corporate villain instead of a warlord, and he’s played by Neal McDonough, a veteran of playing villains in sort-of-remakes like WALKING TALL. Maybe he’s not as funny as Raul Julia, but he does a more internal form of hamming it up that’s pretty enjoyable. He’s got a hard-to-place snob accent (supposedly Irish) and his “just how evil is he?” moment is when he daintily cuts his meat and sips wine while his had-to-be-let-go henchmen’s death cries can be heard from the next room. His right hand man is played by Michael Clarke Duncan, and it’s pretty cool to see that big bastard pounding his fists into kung fu dudes.

As a little girl Chun Li bonds with her father by learning martial arts from him and using the word “wushu” alot. But she also has time to pursue other interests and grows up to become a well known concert pianist. I’m sure you’re familiar with her work. One day her father is kidnapped by Bison’s men, then she receives a mysterious scroll and follows a trail to Bangkok and discovers a secret society that wants to train her to become a vigilante crime fighter or something. The leader is Robin Shou, Liu Kang from MORTAL KOMBAT, but they call him some other name because this is a different video game where everything is probly spelled with C’s.

The story is pretty standard. The one juicy bit of ludicrousness is the backstory about how Bison performed an ancient ritual to have his conscience removed and put into his unborn daughter. No, not his soul, his conscience. I always thought the conscience was a concept to describe a type of mental activity, not an actual physical object. But I was wrong. Most of the good villains don’t see themselves as evil, but this guy does. He jumped through alot of hoops to achieve evil. I mean he pretty much got cosmetic surgery to make himself pure evil. I don’t really get it. But I wouldn’t, I have a conscience. And I’m not a gamer.

Wait a minute, is this some kind of statement about how playing video games allows you to act out dark fantasies where you aren’t tethered by morals and consequences, you’re able to street fight and build Bisonopolis all you want and it doesn’t matter because it’s not real? And is it saying that these business men and real estate guys in the real world, when they do these type of schemes where they screw everybody else over chasing after profits, that they’re basically like a 14 year old kid fucking around shooting up all the video game people to amuse himself?

Couldn’t it be something like that? Or is it seriously just what somebody thought was a cool idea for how he became a bad guy? I guess probly the second one.

One weird thing about the movie too, there are these two Interpol agents on the trail of something or other, and I didn’t notice any reason for them to be in the movie. One is Moon Bloodgood from TERMINATOR SALVATION and the other one is Chris Klein. I didn’t even recognize him at first because he seems to have combined his Keanu DNA with some Jason Lee, and he’s trying hard to do a different character than usual, a cynical, grizzled cop guy, like a PG-13 bad lieutenant. I give him points for effort, I guess, but I can’t deny he’s bizarrely awkward in it. Here’s a little music video somebody made using some of his goofiest parts:

I didn’t get that “walks through the raindrops” line. Is that a misquoting of Pimp: The Story of My Life, the story about the ho complaining about having to stand in the rain and the pimp tells her to walk between the raindrops?

Chris Klein’s a weird story. I believe he was a kid that went to the school where they filmed ELECTION and they cast him as that dumb jock guy and he was just perfect in it. Then he got the AMERICAN PIE movies and it worked for that too. But like the NAPOLEON DYNAMITE kid they start trying to put him in other movies where he has to play a character and then you got trouble. I don’t know if I should feel sorry for him for having to struggle with that or envy him having just stumbled into a fun, well-paying job like that. But he seems like a really nice guy judging from the interviews on the DVD where he can’t stop praising Kristin Kreuk and saying she carries the movie.

That might sound like a backhanded compliment though considering the reputation of this movie. I didn’t know until after seeing it that it’s widely hated by video game fans, movie critics and even martial arts fans. When I reviewed BABYLON A.D. I didn’t think it deserved the 7% it had on Rotten Tomatoes, and couldn’t find anything rated lower than that. Well, LEGEND OF CHUN LI has a 4%.

A bunch of the reviews mention it being worse than the Van Damme version. I guess it depends on how you define “worse.” The old one may have more replay value for being more constantly stupid and silly looking. It has goofy costumes and special effects and bombastic music trying to convince you that it’s awe inspiring.

For me (and apparently only me) watching LEGEND OF CHUN LI right after STREET FIGHTER made it seem pretty decent. I mean, it had a straight forward story that somewhat kept my interest. It had plenty of fighting in it (of an acrobatic though unspectacular variety). It had enough quiet and calm moments that I could appreciate McDonough or Klein going over-the-top every once in a while instead of just feeling like the movie keeps yelling at me. Compared to de Souza’s movie this one is a model of subtlety and taste, so I was surprised when I realized it was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (EXIT WOUNDS, CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE). Actually it’s too bad they didn’t get Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson in there. One of them could be the green troll guy and the other could be the guy with the mohawk.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a pretty generic movie and I’m not really recommending it to anyone, especially now that I know that alot of people somehow feel it’s one of the worst movies they’ve ever seen. That seems like too much, but I didn’t like the movie enough to go to bat for it. I gotta say this though: I was surprised how much I liked Kreuk in it. I don’t usually like little waifs being swung around on ropes pretending to kick ass, but she has a dedication to the role that won me over. She has big cartoon eyes that are real emotive and she uses them for sadness, bitterness, anger, empathy. She takes the role seriously and does the moves well. I’m pretty sure they convinced her that Chun Li means alot to people, and she thought that meant it was a beloved character with a rich and multi-layered history that fans have many emotions wrapped up in. They really just meant that it’s cool when you push the button and it makes her kick a guy in the head, but luckily Kreuk didn’t know that and put alot of work into treating it like a worthwhile role.

What this and another recent cheesy movie I’ll be reviewing soon taught me is that it’s alot easier to make a passable movie of this kind of material in the digital age. As recently as 15 years ago they had to build huge sets on a soundstage and put everybody in crazy colorful costumes. Now they can use green screens and stylize the world without making it too fake looking. They can make people fly around more smoothly and make the camera rotate around them in fancy ways so they don’t just look like they’re in a stage version of Peter Pan. And those movies with the big sets were always so hard to make they had a hell of a time getting any of the scenes done and the movies always felt so muddled and compromised. In these new ones they probly spend the time to get the shot they need, or fake it later using computers.

In a way the world of movies and video games are merging together, it’s a more natural fit. So the movies seem to take place in a somewhat realized world instead of just looking like adults wearing asinine Halloween costumes on a cheesy set.

But that might be a bad thing. Maybe the old way is more memorable. I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to wait until today’s 12 year olds who saw this on cable grow up and find out if they remember it fondly or not. But there’s something I never thought about with these video game adaptations. Video games may be art, but they’re not timeless the way books or even TV shows are. Because of changing technology the games that are hugely popular don’t last, they become obsolete, and unless there’s a good Pac-Man game for the xbox three hundred sixty I don’t think most characters have the lasting appeal that they can in other artistical mediums. I bring this up because I’m not sure if kids still play Street Fighter or know what it is. And if not that might be part of why they will never attach themselves to THE LEGEND OF CHUN LI. Unless they’re Chris Klein fans.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 at 2:21 am and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

61 Responses to “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li”

  1. Ironically Chris Klein plays the “green troll guy”. At least he plays a version of the character that gets turned into him in the JCVD movie. In the Games his character is dead (or just missing) and the green guy lived in the brazilian jungle.
    But seriously Vern, I think even from a not-gamer perspective, the Chun-Li movie is a huge pile of crap. There is nothing exciting about it, the story gets dumber with any minute (Bison keeps Chun-Li’s father in prison for more than 10 years, because he is a computer expert? Then Bison wants to take over the organized crime and build his own Megacity or something like that, just to forget about his plan completely as soon as his daughter is suddenly introduced during the last act?), the fights are generic post-matrix wire fights and…I don’t know. It’s one of these movies that fall so easily into the modern “dark & gritty” trap. At least they let out the realism.
    And from a gamer perspective: The 1994 movie at least try to be visually faithful to the game. I think the only one who looks here at least a little bit like his game counterpart is Michael Clarke Duncan. And when they have to intercut one of Chun-Li’s fights with a close up of her Spinning Bird medallion as a way to tell the audience “You don’t recognize it, but this is the Spinning Bird Kick, one of her trademark moves from the game”, they really seem to have a problem.
    No, seriously, for me there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie. The old version had at least its camp factor going for it.

  2. There actually is a great pacman game for the x box three hundred and sixty, called Pacman Championship Edition, designed by the original creator of Pacman before he retired to be a university lecturer. But you’re still right, although I sort of think that changing technology makes sequels and remakes more justifiable for videogames than they’ll ever be for films, though there is still way to much of a reliance on successful “franchises.”

  3. hey Vern, there is in fact one last Street Fighter movie if you’re interested, an animated one http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114563/

    it’s better than both of the live action movies and it features a naked Chun Li!

    of course I don’t think you’ve ever reviewed anime before, but now might be the time to pop that cherry

  4. also on a side note, the Street Fighter series is still going strong to this day, just last year they released the fourth one

  5. Let me get this straight: they had both Kristen Kreuk and Moon Bloodgood in the same movie, and there isn’t a lesbian sex scene? Why do movies keep on wasting such great oportunities? It’s supposed to be entertaiment, isn’t it? It’s not like people go watch this movies expecting an adaptation of Feodor Dostoyeski’s THE BROTHERS KAZAMAROV, is it? You know, a really important and serious movie. so, why do they keep on wasting this golden oportunitities for great hot lesbian sex between gorgeaus women? Sure, the fighting stuff is fine and all that, but not to take advantage of an oportunity like this is just an unexcusable waste.

  6. This movie was so boing i could not even finish it. At least the first one was funny enough have me sit trough it to the end. Both are shit tough.

  7. I saw this and basically agree, it’s an OK generic movie. What makes it kind of funny is that every so often a character will jump into a room and, someone else will look shocked and identify them as “Bullrog!” or “Vega!” or whoever, so we can go “hey, there’s that guy from the thing this movie is based on!” Also, the nightclub scene where Chun-Li randomly does her trademark spinning kick. But if I had to choose between this and the original, I’d definitely prefer to watch the original. Sure, some of that can be pinned down to nostalgia (although I only saw SF all the way through for the first time about five years ago), but I do honestly think there’s something to be said for aiming for something and failing amusingly, as opposed to aiming for passable cable-fodder and just about making it.

    It’s still sadly in the upper tier of Video Game movies. I saw PRINCE OF PERSIA and honestly that’s probably the best one yet. In general movie terms, it’s about on par with THE ROCKETEER

    I’m not sure if it’s true that video games have no longevity, several franchises (PRINCE OF PERSIA, CASTLEVANIA, CONTRA, ZELDA and yes STREETFIGHTER) seem to still be going strong and SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2 is one of the gaming events of the year. And while my namesake hasn’t had a proper blockbuster in some 25 years, old pizza face and his wife’s original games are still extremely popular all these years later and apparently the character was said to be recognised by something 94% of Americans. I’m just saying this as a casual observer BTW, I’m not really a contemporary gamer and my most recent console is a PS2 (unless you count DS)

  8. BTW what do you guys think of _this_:

  9. Asimov,

    There is a scene where Chun Li semi-seduces Bison’s girlfriend on the dance-floor of a nightclub, entices her to the bathroom and then has a great big fight with her to get information. This is swiftly followed by Bison literally using his gf as a punching bag, pounding the crap out of her to death, while Michael Clarke Duncan works out on a real punching bag nearby!

    Both of these scenes struck me as being a bit beyond the usual PG-13 fare, and provided the only twisted highlihgt.

  10. I always thought a Final Fight movie has the potential to be awesome. Think about it, a film about a muscle packed ex fighter, who becomes the mayor of a big city and then goes berserk on cartoony street gangs, after they kidnap his daughter.
    Too bad that these days they would probably either make it dark and realistic or make a parody out of it. But if it’s done right, it could be this generation’s Commando!

  11. Foywonder convinced me to skip this fucker.

  12. Looking at the poster for this made me realise one of the fundamental dumbnessess of video game movies.

    See, the video game guys never thought anyone would make their game into a movie, so they had no problems paying homage to movies they like – for yuks, right? So you end up with a guy with a Freddy claws and a Jason mask. Because who cares its only a video game.

    THEN some jerkoff makes it into a movie and suddenly guy with Freddy claws and Jason mask is in the same medium as Freddy and Jason – they cast an actor to play him and a prop guy (maybe the same prop guy who worked on a real Jason or Freddy movie) makes the mask and the claw and they give him a backstory and you just feel a bit embarrassed for everybody.

    Not the game guys’ fault though. If they knew they were making a movie character I’m sure they’d have come up with something different.

  13. I saw this Street FIghter on Cable. I fastforwarded a good portion of it but thought Chris Klein was hilarious.

    Now it might have been that I was 17 at the time, but I remember leaving the theater thinking the Van Damme version was a giant piece of shit. I cannot fathom that there are 12 year olds that loved it when it came out because it’s such a giant piece of shit.

  14. Griff, I don’t think Vern has reviewed a ton of anime, but I know he’s reviewed Vampire Hunter D:Bloodlust here(although I don’t think it has it’s own entry, IIRC it’s actually included in his Blade 2 review), and I think he’s done Princess Mononoke and maybe 1 or 2 others.

  15. I’m not sure I agree with Vern’s statement that there’s not lasting appeal in old videogames , that they’re not timeless . 2-dimensional games are still a big part of the videogame industry and the style is beloved by many gamers , even years after true 3-dimensional games made their debut on the market. There’s even a Retro movement , like sometimes happen with music , movies or clothing , but it’s always been there . Some gamers just flat out refuse to play games with a third dimension or with a more modern style . Hell , I just busted out Ninja Gaiden 3 after years , I finished it and it’s still fucking awesome ! As for the style , I consider 8-bit and 16-bit Pixel Art the natural evolution of Pointillism and some Impressionist-Expressionist tendencies . I mean , try to imagine Pointillism in the Internet age and that’s the first thing that I think of. And don’t get me wrong , I don’t think that videogames, right now , are Art , but they will eventually become some sort of respected storytelling or emotional medium , and maybe even Art. Right now , videogames are just another place where artists can express themselves and Art can change and maybe evolve , like in the example above .

    On another note , there’s still one movie spawned by a fighting videogame . After Street Fighter , Mortal Kombat and DOA , the time has come for ….Tekken!

  16. Chris Klein’s performance really is one for the ages, I’m not kidding. It’s up there with Nic Cage in Vampire’s Kiss or Richard E. Grant in Hudson Hawk. Just pure unhinged lunacy, and that youtube clip, while showing most of his best lines, doesn’t really do his performance justice. I know he doesn’t seem like he’s a particularly bright guy, but I truly believe he 100% knew what he was doing here and that actually takes a certain kind of genius.

    But yeah, this movie’s pretty bad. The plot is boring, the fights are mostly terrible, but the final one with Chun Li and Bison is actually well shot and choreographed, and Kreuk’s performance is like Vern said – warm and sincere and just very appealing. There’s something about those eyes and that voice that makes me wish she would actually try something more dramatic, which you don’t hear me saying about someone very often.

  17. Is there a chance that you’ll review Corey Yuen’s DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE one day?

  18. CallMeKermiT- If I’m any kind of gamer, I’d definitely say I’m a retro gamer. I certainly don’t refuse to play 3-D games, but I genuinely prefer PS1, N64, 16 Bit, 8 Bit and below games (especially arcade classics), regardless of whether I played them as a kid or not. I think the simplicity of them is what appeals to me; I can just dip into them and have a lot of fun. With more recent games, often you have to put a lot of time into them to feel like you’ve really gotten your money’s worth. Also, it doesn’t help that I’m not actually very good at video games.

  19. Here’s what I’m talking about .
    Seurat , one of the first artists to use Pointillism :


    Similar example in Pixel Art :


  20. Am I the only one who thinks that games have gotten easier over the years? With save points and difficulty settings and whatnot, you can basically beat any game if you put in enough time. But how many people have ever beaten Donkey Kong? Like, eight? In modern games, you can kind of blunder your way through, picking up powerups as needed and saving whenever you beat a level. Old games were completely unforgiving. You touched that fucking barrel just once and you were screwed. And when you went through all your guys, you were right back at the beginning. You didn’t get to pick up where you left off last time. You had to do the whole thing the right way every time. I think this emphasis on precision gives old games a sense of pure competition that is appealing to a lot of people. Beating Halo is no big deal, but beating Super Mario Bros is still something worth bragging about more than 20 years later.

  21. You gotta have big balls to give a positive review to this one big guy. I thought in the first paragraph after you called it competant and slick I’d hit the continue button and realized you had psyched me out. Maybe you were just in a generous mood?

    As an avid gamer on everything from consoles(360) to PC (WoW) and handhelds (DS) I can tell you that in my learned opinion video games are very capable of being art. Street Fighter being art is a stretch though. Games like Shaddow of the Colossus, World of Warcraft, Okami, Katamari Damacy, hell even the Zelda franchises and Mario are full of beautiful scenery. How a person could create a 3d world full of architecture,wildlife, stunning scenery, working day and night cycles and not be considered and artist is beyond me.

    I can’t wait for Sam Raimis Warcraft film though. I honestly believe that he will be the one to raise video game film adaptation standards up. Basically doing what Bryan Singer did for comic book adaptations with X-Men.

    And they are making a Mass Effect movie. The universe created in that game has the potential to be adapted into one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, if done properly.

  22. You know what, man? Chris Klein can act!

    I wrote the dude off, which really wasn’t a hard thing to do — but then I caught a not-all-that-great-but-still-perfectly-watchable movie directed by 50-year-old-manchild Frank Whalley called NEW YORK CITY SERENADE and the entire time I’m going, “Who’s this dude? He’s good!” — then came the credits and I did a double take, followed by a spit-take, and a “get the !@#% outta here!”

    Check it out, along with Whalley’s bizarre THE JIMMY SHOW about an amateur stand-up comedian with anger issues, and ponder, who, exactly, he is making these movies for, and you know, “why?”.

  23. Majestyk – i’ve noticed that too – my theory is a) with the web and everyone being a critic, word will get out if a game is TOO hard, which will hurt sales. I’ve actually NOT bought certain games after reading reviews saying the game is too hard or frustrating, mainly because I don’t like throwing my controllers across the room. And b) i think stories have gotten better, and the game creators actually put lots of thought into the plots now, so they actually want everyone to make it to the end.

    On a related note: has anyone played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? The story is absolutely amazing and there’s a mind-blowing twist worth of M. Night Shyamalan at the end. If I was a game developer on that one I’d actually be pissed if a gamer gave up before the end.

  24. Mr. Majestyk : Yeah , some of the old school games are absolutely unforgiving ( like the first Castlevania , all the Ninja Gaiden games , Megaman and …oh my God , Ghosts n’ Goblins …..damn that was fucking hard !). They’re so hard , that they started the sub-game of “speedrunning” , trying to beat the game as fast as possible. And , yes , you can “speedrun” Halo , too , but were’s the fun in that ?

    PacmanFever : If you’re mostly a retro-gamer , you’ve got way more skills than you think!

  25. Ninja Gaiden is the most difficult endeavor known to man. There are two kinds of people in this world: People who can’t beat Ninja Gaiden and fucking liars.

  26. Seeing this in the theater was a treat. Me and my buddy were rolling in the aisles laughing (especially any time Klein was on screen). It was funny in the line for the bathroom afterwards hearing the video game nerds bitching and moaning about how Balrog wasn’t a prize fighter. As for the movie itself, I think it’s a goood guilty pleasure and is lots better than most Video Game Movies. (Max Payne anyone?) I think the part that really cemented it’s status for (besides Klein) was the Batman Begins rip-off ending. That shit was hilarious.

    If we’re lucky, we’ll get Street Fighter: The Legend of Charlie Nash in the near future.

  27. Ah yes, retro gaming. I grew up with Pong, the original green/black Game Boy, Nes, SNES, Mega Drive and co. And I still own my old stuff and even play with it, as this photo of my TV will prove:

    Due to the lack of time and money I had to stop gaming for a while around 1999 and only recently bought a very cheap PS2, but I don’t find many games that seriously seem to interest me. (One of the first games I bought for it was even Street Fighter Alpha Anthology!) I got dozens of SNES games, but only 4 or so for PS2 and don’t even plan to buy a PS3 or something like that. I played a while ago with the thought of buying a Wii, but only because I wanted to play a new Mario Kart!
    And in case of video games I’m not even sure that my feelings are really fueled by nostalgia, considering how even modern gamer complain about the lack of innovation or fun in modern games.

  28. Jareth Cutestory

    July 6th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Majestyk: In addition to your point about video game difficulty, I’d also like to mention the communal aspect of the old video arcades. You’d never get to the end of Pac Man, but you’d strive to beat the score of an opponent who also used the same machine (usually he’d enter his initials as ASS next to his score).

    Maybe you can do that sort of thing online, but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not the same as being in a dim room filled with chaotic blipping noise. And petty pot dealers.

    And I doubt Flying Lotus will be sampling these new game noises on his records.

    Also, has the modern era of games come up with anything half as surreal as a tiny chef running around chased by giant pickels?

  29. Kermit – but that’s sort of the point I was trying to make, that just because of the nature of the technology an older, classic game is considered “retro.” With movies, just about everybody has a DVD player and can play JAWS or THE GODFATHER and doesn’t think of them as retro or nostalgic. But to play the original Pac-Man or Street Fighter you have to be kind of a hobbyist, don’t you? I’m sure you can probly play it on a computer, but the original formats are quickly replaced and they don’t re-release the same game for xbox or whatever.

    But I don’t know, maybe the technology has gotten to a point or will soon get to a point where it’s good enough to last even as other games become more sophisticated. And maybe Pac-Man is the SUNRISE of video games. Super Mario Brothers is THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.

  30. I just basically heard this movie was boring and uninspired and just a bit too grounded for something trying to be Street Fighter. Which is generally the problem comic book/video game adaptations suffer. They’re presenting an over the top world that someone is trying to turn into something more realistic that works in another medium, and when you go too far with that, fans of the source are going to be disappointed. Whereas if you were adapting, say, a Parker novel, the most you’d have to worry about would be some alterations to the plot, Parker being renamed Palmer or something, and the producers maybe chickening out on making him such a bastard and making him 15% more likeable, which fans can sorta live if with he still pulls of a job and deals with some assholes who get in his way in a suitably badass manner. But with Street Fighter, if they’re going to do films focussing on specific characters, you could make that work to some degree. For instance:
    The Legend of Ryu- dedicated martial artist harnesses a mystical power, attracting the attention of Shadaloo who would utilise it for their own ends, as well Akuma, the fighter who possesses the dark counterpart to that energy who killed Ryu’s master.
    The Legend of Fei Long- a HK film actor who looks and fights a lot like Bruce Lee joins a street fighting tournament for publicity sake, only to attract the attention of a crimelord (Maybe Sagat this time, sporting a scar on his chest he receives from Ryu in a flashback) looking to recruit him and maybe muscle in on his business. Fei Long fights back and brings down the guy.
    The Legend of Cammy- Amnesiac british secret agent with ties to Shadoloo goes undercover in another fighting tournament to find out what they’re up to and what her history is

  31. “But to play the original Pac-Man or Street Fighter you have to be kind of a hobbyist, don’t you? I’m sure you can probly play it on a computer, but the original formats are quickly replaced and they don’t re-release the same game for xbox or whatever.”
    Actually a lot of older games are released nowadays as online downloadable content for the home computer systems, or get remastered with new graphics, but keep the same gameplay system. Street Fighter recently saw a “Super Turbo HD” anniversary edition brought out. Also, the games mostly kept to a 2D system and the more recent entries have that same sort of classic system just with the advantage of advanced graphics.

  32. This is the “un-fun” Street Fighter movie. I watched it largely because of the reviews on AICN, just to see how bad it could be, expecting a high-camp film like “Batman and Robin” or the original “Street Fighter”, but I wouldn’t recommend anybody else make this mistake. It’s not near enough bad in a good way, it sits squarely in the “so bad it’s awful” territory for me. I don’t get the Chris Klein love either. Maybe I’m prejudiced against him because the original “Rollerball” is one of my favorite movies, but I find him a sub-par version of Keanu Reeves. Plus he was in all the bad, rom-com-cliche’d, unfunny bits of American Pie (you know, the bits that didn’t feature Finch or Jim’s Dad). And he was totally outclassed by everyone else in that film.

    On the question of videogames, I still enjoy System Shock and System Shock 2 (1994 and 1998). And I can play them both on my Windows Vista machine without any technical issues. A lot of old games such as Street Fighter are now available as “flash games” online. So I don’t think that technology is as much of a barrier towards retro gaming as it once was (although there’s still a lot of excellent console-based titles that you can’t play on a PC. Doubt that will last forever though.)

    A question though: if a videogame can have a villain as fantastically creepy / menacing as this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkieBQv_0H8 , why can’t a movie based on a videogame?

  33. I’m not sure about STREET FIGHTER, but old arcade games like PAC-MAN, his wife, SPACE INVADERS, GALAGA etc. still turn up in arcades and, more siginificantly, bars. I think their appeal is much the same as pinball machines; it doesn’t matter if you win, it’s just a fun way to waste small change.

  34. Vern : As Stu pointed out , the original old-school classics are re-released on modern console. From Nintendo , to Microsoft , to Sony , all of them have some kind of “Classic Channel” where you can play the classics , if you buy them again . Exactly like movies and their change of formats , like from VHS to DVD , and from DVD to Blue-Ray , and so on. But not only that , in some cases even the style or concept of a game is still 20 years old , I’ve seen games made today that , in concept and execution, are identical to games made in the 80’s.

    Mr. Majestyk : I like difficult games . I don’t play all that much , but sometimes I seek out games that are considered the most difficult in their own category . And I’m an old fan of the Ninja Gaiden games , considered the most punishing trilogy on the old NES: I’ve beaten the second and the third on the NES , and even the new one on XBOX , a brutal remake-rebbot. But , goddamn , I’ve never beaten Ninja Gaiden 1 for the NES . Level 6-1 , max . It is , indeed , the most difficult endeavor known to man.

  35. Jareth Cutestory

    July 6th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    “Kramer, listen to me. I’m never gonna have a child. If I lose this Frogger high score, that’s it for me.”

  36. CallMeKermit – that damn helicopter, eh?

  37. I just realized that Andrzej Bartkowiak made only one movie that didn’t piss me off. (Exit Wounds).* I wonder why I still have such a neutral opinion of him.

    *It’s possible that I liked Doom to a degree too, but all I remember is that I don’t remember it at all.

  38. I wholly agree with AsimovLives.

  39. Jareth, I need, uh, the, you know, holes.

  40. i still play a lot of old Nintendo games i grew up with. whether they are actually still challenging and enjoyable (Super Metroid, Mega Man) or just bring a warm sense of nostalgia (Street Fighter 2, Super Mario Bros. 2), that still counts for something. the kids today may not be digging into the past for entertainment, whether that be music, tv, video games, but it’s still all here for those who care.

    art is subjective.

  41. We need Danny Trejo in STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF BLANKA.

  42. CrustaceanHate

    July 6th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Well, older games had to be difficult because they were only about an hour long. Now video games are, what, 8-10 hours long, at a minimum? Of course length isn’t the same thing as quality, but it does allow a richer story, more varied gameplay etc. I understand the appeal of the simplicity of old video games, but I get really annoyed at the nostalgia. The vast majority of NES-era games, even the really good ones, were frustrating exercises in memorisation and trial-and-error.

  43. Paul : Speaking of Flash games , and since there’s a lot of old-school gamers here , I might as well bring up the site supermariobroscrossover.com.
    That’s a fan made Flash version of Super Mario Bros with a twist : you can play it as some other classic NES characters like Ryu from Ninja Gaiden , Megaman , Samus from Metroid and Belmont from Castlevania . Every character has the same controls as in his own game , but is now in the original Super Mario Bros . It’s a fantastic fan-project , completely free and without any kind of registration , just go there and play … and it’s the only way I will ever play SMB since I fuckin’ hate Mario himself .

  44. For what is really an objectively bad movie, I enjoyed the hell out of this one, not least because of Chris Klein’s insane and bizarre portrayal of Charlie Nash. It played on one of the pay cable channels a while back, and they advertised it with a little promo reel entirely comprised of Klein’s weird mannerisms looped over and over (a bit like the video above but without the annoying music), it made me laugh every time I saw it. His acting and Moon Bloodgood’s confused reactions to it put the movie firmly in the awesomely campy, uh… camp. I’d definitely take this one over the JCVD version.

    And I don’t want to “Ebert” Vern’s forum here, but re: the “are video games art?” debate, I’d ask the question: are card games like poker or blackjack art? Is chess art, or rock/paper/scissors? I think video games obviously involve art, such as character design and backgrounds and music, but it’s less certain to me that games ARE art. When you strip down a video game to it’s basic mechanics, most are simply tests of reaction time/hand-eye coordination or puzzle solving challenges packaged in fancy animation. Even a game like Red Dead Redemption (which I’ve been playing and enjoying recently), when you cut out the cinematic cutscenes and world events, it’s mostly just a horse-riding simulator with a few reflex tests/scavenger hunts peppered in. The things that most people point out as evidence of artistic merit in video games are usually attempts to emulate other artistic media, such as RDR and pretty much every western movie it pays homage to (or shamelessly rips off, depending on how charitable I feel.) Is there really anyone who would trade the movie Scarface for Grand Theft Auto, or feels that GTA is a more important work of art than the movies that obviously inspired it? GTA was an amazing and fun video game, but as far as a work of art, I don’t think it’s even close to a movie like Scarface.

    I grew up playing video games of all kinds, and still casually play a few today (got one of them Three Hundred and Sixties), but in my opinion, the more that video games try to mimic movies, the more they will pale in comparison, and the further they get from actually being true art. When games are stripped down to their basic interactive mechanics, like Tetris or Peggle for instance, they can offer an experience that is unique and entertaining. I’m not saying that games can’t have a compelling narrative, but to me, they just aren’t as rewarding as a book or a movie or a stage play. More like a mo-capped all CGI Syfy original movie; dead-eyed mannequins portraying laughably cliched characters shackled to hackneyed plots loosely cobbled together from successful movies and designed primarily to get from one bit of action to another.

    Maybe someday, game designers can manage to make a video game that manages to be more artistically compelling than movies that explore the same themes and stories (and Hollywood is helping that to happen by lowering the bar for movies every year), but from my experience, they’re still a long ways off. So I don’t agree with Ebert that games cannot ever be art, but I agree with him in that there are very, very few games that I would say have ever successfully managed to be the same level of art that I associate with good movies and books.

    Also, I agree with AsimovLives. Lesbian sex scenes are ALWAYS art.

  45. I have just finished making my own feature length, independant action film filled with martial arts. I can guarantee its 500 times better then this film in terms of amount of action, quality of action and plot ! In fact i am willing to go out of pocket to help prove that. If anyone reading this wants me to mail them out a copy of my film for free then email me andrew_thatcher_2@hotmail.com only thing i ask in return is that you tell me what you think of it.

    Heres the website for my film http://www.charityhurts.wetpaint.com

    Thanks all.

    P.S: Vern woudl love for you to check it out and review it :)

  46. Chun Li had leg like tree trunks. Why they got this little 90 pound girl to play her is beyond me. They should have got Margaret Cho.

  47. I don’t really have anything to add other than to say…

    Tecmo Super Bowl is gaming perfection.

  48. ya know another game that could be classified as art? the original Deus Ex

  49. THE FROGGER is the one episode of SEINFELD where I really, really wanted George to end up on top. I know that would go against the whole nature of the character and indeed show, but still…

  50. The most artistic games I’ve ever played are Finally Fantasy VII (PS1), Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (PC), and Heavy Rain (PS3). FFVII and Knights are both RPG’s and Heavy Rain is a murder mystery. I think these games are artistic because they are almost like interactive movies. For Knights and Heavy Rain, your decisions alter the story line whereas for older games like Mario, Castlevania, etc., everything is pretty linear. I think if a games tells a great story and gets you emotionally involved with the characters/story then it is indeed art. Anyone who has a PS3 should check out Heavy Rain. The story is pretty amazing video game or not.

    With that said, video games as a whole are not very artistic. Now that I think about it, arguing over what is and isn’t art is an argument that goes nowhere. Everyone’s definition of art is different. It seems to create more questions than answers. Does something have to be “good” in order to be considered art? Are shitty paintings still considered art strictly because they’re paintings?

  51. That reminds me of a funny Office quote:

    Toby: Oh this looks great. I’d love to be there but my daughter’s play is tonight. Dammit! You know, one of the other parents will probably videotape it.
    Pam: Oh, no, you should go.
    Toby: Well, it’s important to support local art, you know? What they do is not art.

    I’m surprised they haven’t made a ZELDA movie yet.

  52. Call Me Kermit – yeah, I played that. It was very well done, but it stank of “fanboy”-auteurism. (“Fanboy” in quotes because Vern recently, if I remember correctly, decreed that this site has yet to recognize that term yet; and Vern’s word is LAW.) By which I mean that it was doing something that only a true Nintendo “fanboy” would think worthwhile or interesting. Yeah, I liked Contra; and yeah, I liked SMB. But to play the merc from Contra in the platforming world of SMB? Sure, it sounds good on paper, but the end result is more Tony Scott than Francis Ford Coppola. I lost interest after about five minutes, sorry. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just that it feels like subbing in the leading guy character from “Failure to Launch” into the movie “How to lose a guy in ten days”. Sure, it SOUNDS like it should work, but honestly, why would you want to?

  53. ebonic plague: regarding just one of your examples, Paper Rock Scissors can be elevated to the level of skill. I once played it for twenty games with a fellow expert. We were both thinking three moves ahead of each other. We went twenty rounds straight without either of us ever winning a single Janken, both choosing the same symbol every damn time. Then I finally managed to think four moves ahead of my opponent and beat him three times in a row, winning the match.

    I think proper reading of the game “paper rock scissors” should be mandatory in every school curriculum. I can’t emphasise enough how many life skills that one little ability has taught me. Chess is far too complicated to be of use – it’s just a memory game, pure and simple, where you have to remember all the possible moves and your responses to them – but Janken, when played properly, is the most purely strategic game there is.

  54. Paul – doesn’t that only work if your opponent is also attempting to strategize? ie. if they were attempting true randomness or just too slow to think ahead of their opponent (assuming they’re not instinctively/subconsciously always picking whatever beats your last move and so on) they would effectively neutralize your advantage?

    I remember freaking the shit out of my little brother one time though when we were kids, because he was subconsciously picking whatever beat my last move every turn. Once I picked up on it I just countered with whatever beat whatever beat my last move. Then I told him I was reading his mind.

  55. Paul : Yeah , I rarely play games for longer than an hour , so that fan game was amusing for me to play for 5-10 minutes , check if I was able to beat my high-score and then move on. Maybe I find it more amusing because I’ve never played SMB before (because I hate the Mario character) , and I see it as an opportunity to play characters that I like in another game , for free .Yes , it’s a fan game , but I consider it an incredible achievement for just one guy , if I was in the gaming industry , that’s some kind of talent that needs to be hired !

  56. I think video games are art in a general sense but watching the Street Fighter games is ‘art’ in a basic, ‘this looks pretty!’ sense. i suck at fighting games but i’ll watch other people play Street Fighter 4. it’s gorgeous

  57. Gwai Lo – you can do that easily enough, but beating a non-strategic player should be child’s play. (I love the touch about “mind reading” though – nice!) It’s when two players who understand the psychology behind the game match up that things get funky. You can literally have runs of twenty games or more where nobody wins. It’s happened to me.

    Kermit – I’m being a killjoy, sorry. It seems to be the mood for that. (Although for other reasons, check out my largely spoiler-free write-up of “The Mist” on this site. Damn, I was expecting to love that movie. What a disappointment.)

  58. I agree with CJ’s first post. Rather surprising to see Vern so accepting on this one, not because he differs with the pack. That’s cool. I’m just surprised you found it competently made though. I thought this is the usual shaky handheld crap camera work so you can’t really see the action, and digital B.S. so no one’s actually doing anything.

    I would agree that Kreuk sells the shit out of it. She definitely has the makings of an action heroine. I can even appreciate relishing in Klein’s performance, though I feel kind of bad for him. I don’t think he’s in on the joke. He seems to think he’s hardcore and maybe Bartowiak agreed with him, but someone should have stepped in and said, “No, dude, you’re embarrassing yourself. They’re going to make fun of you.”

    The style thing may just be a matter of format. I saw this in theaters where it’s all big and up close. Maybe watching it on TV makes it easier to see the action and makes it look better.

    Anyway, “Nash out…”

  59. The long, slow look Klein gives the guy behind him starting right about 1:18 in the video is the highlight of my life so far.

  60. Here’s the problem(s) with films based on video-games – they’re given to these journeyman directors and writers who, for the most part, seem to fail to notice how to take advantage of the ideas and visual prospects that’s there in the source material, already.

    Someone needs to make a Sonic the Hedgehog movie – I don’t think there’s another other franchise character that, in the right hands, could lend itself so well to the cinematic medium. Having said that, if I had my way, I’d probably do it a bit different than most would. Do it completely silent. Make it a pantomime. Pattern it off stuff like George Miller’s Mad Max 2, or hell even get him to direct it, where it’s basically an exploration of what you can do with speed, motion and kinetics on screen centered around a relatively simple Sonic 1 – based plot – pit Sonic and Robotnik against each other, nature against industry, in surreal, dreamlike environments. One big, long chase movie with a good helping of visual humor.

    Either that or do a continuation of that surprisingly well-made post-apocalyptic animated series from the early nineties. Make it a film about a revolution. Throw some Mos Def on the soundtrack. That could work, too.

  61. If you call someone an “idiot” be sure your comments are coherent.

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