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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/30/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/7/2009

Filmmakers have been cranking out movies based on video games for over 15 years now...and they are still having a great deal of difficulty getting it right. The trouble seems to always lie with the story. Many games from the past had no true "plot", so writers have to create a story and develop characters...and this seems to stump them. Most modern games do have a story, sometimes a complex one, and filmmakers often takes these and then change everything. When will someone make a truly great movie based on a game? Well, not today, as we look at Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

As the title implies, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li tells the story of the titular character. We see her as a child, growing up in Hong Kong, where she and her father would practice martial arts. One night, two men, Bison (Neal McDonough) and Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan) break into the house and take her father. The story then jumps ahead many years. Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) is an accomplished concert pianist. One night, she receives an ancient scroll which draws her to Bangkok. There, she meets Gen (Robin Shou), a master who promises to train her. Meanwhile, Bangkok police detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood) and Interpol agent Nash (Chris Klein) are investigating Bison. Chun-Li learns that Bison is in Bangkok and vows to get revenge.

I'm sure that there are a lot of people who would call Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li a bad movie (and glancing around the Internet, I see that plenty have). While I don't necessarily disagree with that assessment, I would say that it's somewhat inaccurate. This isn't what I would call a "bad movie", this is what I would call a "nothing movie". What do I mean by that? That means that Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li goes strictly by the book, offering no surprises, no plot twists, no interesting characters, and nothing truly memorable. If I gave you the basic outline of the film, you could probably fill in the rest of the story and be very close to what we actually get in the film. I was expecting anything groundbreaking from a movie based on a video game (those dreams have long since died), but I was surprised by the apparent lack of effort to put anything even remotely interesting into this movie.

I probably should have started this review by saying that I've never played Street Fighter. (I think I watched a friend play it at a Pizza Hut in 1994...wow, that was a lame aside.) But, I've read enough video game magazines to have a good idea of what the game is and what it's about. Therefore, I feel just qualified enough to say that this movie has nothing to do with the games. From what little I've seen of the 1994 Jean Claude van Damme Street Fighter movie, that effort at least contained some elaborate costumes and followed the game's "story" somewhat. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is strictly set in the "real world" and other than the fact that Vega (Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas...I knew he looked familiar) wears a mask similar to the one in the game, there's no effort made to have the characters look like their video game counterparts. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but taking that "real world" approach simply makes this look like any other cheap and cheesy martial arts film which one would find on cable in the middle of the night.

Am I being too hard on Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li? Perhaps, but the movie does promise a lot. First of all, it's based on a video game franchise which has been popular for two decades, so fans will be expecting a lot. Secondly, the movie boasts a cast of recognizable faces and a known cast can often count for something. But, even the talented Chris Klein can't save this movie. (Yes, I'm being facetious.) If nothing else, the movie's greatest sin is that it only contains a handful of fight scenes. Mortal Kombat may be an incredibly dumb movie, but at least it contained wall-to-wall fighting, and isn't that why we're here?

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li draws a yin-yang in the sand on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are good, most notably blues and reds. The picture has nice depth and a good amount of detail. The transfer isn't flawless, but it's very good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good here, most notably in crowd and street scenes. The action sequences provide us with a wealth of surround sound and subwoofer effects. Even at low volume, the detail of these effects comes through. An impressive audio display.

The Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Producers Patrick Aiello & Ashok Amritraj and actors Neal McDonough & Chris Klein. "In-Movie Enlightenment" offers pop-up video style facts about the movie and the video games. The Disc contains fourteen DELETED SCENES which run about 16 minutes. Some of these are brand new moments, while others are simply extended versions of scenes already in the film. The bulk of these are dialogue scenes and there's only a few seconds of additional action. "Becoming a Street Fighter" (18 minutes) is a making of featurette in which the cast and filmmakers discuss how they approached bringing the video game to life. They skirt the fact that there has already been live-action Street Fighter movie. "Chun-Li: Bringing the Legend to Life" (7 minutes) is a discussion of why that character was chosen and how Kreuk trained for the role. "Fox Movie Channel Presents Making a Scene" (10 minutes) examines how the martial arts were done in the movie. "Recreating the Game: Arcade to Film Comparisons" is a series of eight stills which show how no one in the movie looks like their video game counterpart. "The Fight in Black and White: Storyboard Gallery" shows storyboards for 14 scenes. "Behind the Fight: Production Gallery" contains 15 subsets of images from the movie.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long