Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (2009)
Powerful forces are converging on the streets of Bangkok. They are warriors, some of whom possess extraordinary abilities, all of whom are determined to see their side prevail. Some fight for us; the others for unlimited power. Now, they are preparing for the ultimate battle - of terror versus beauty, light versus darkness, and good versus evil.
The forces of darkness are led by Bison (Neal McDonough), a crime boss of seemingly limitless power, and whose past holds a shocking secret. Bison's syndicate, Shadaloo, is taking over the slums of the Thai capital, a task overseen by Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan), a massively built enforcer and killer. Also in Bison's employ is the assassin Vega (Taboo, of the group The Black Eyed Peas), a masked talon-wielding warrior, whose weapon is tailor-made for slashing and stabbing attacks. Bison's attache is the beautiful but deadly Cantana (Josie Ho).
These vivid characters and their world are long known to fans of the iconic videogame "Street Fighter," which Capcom released in 1987. At the time, the 1-2 player game set a new precedent in two-dimensional interactive entertainment. In 1991, Capcom released to arcades, "Street Fighter II," featuring new characters and fighting styles.
When it comes to The Legend of Chun Li, regardless of what ever you think of this production or the games on which itís based, itís hard not to keep coming back to one inescapable question: Why is this movie happening? Or rather, why is this movie happening when itís happening? Fifteen years ago, it absolutely would have made sense. Back then Americaís teenagers were piling into arcades to beat up their friends with Chun Liís spinning kicks, or holing up in their rooms for days with their friends frantically punching the buttons on their Sega Genesis controller to pull off the perfect combo. In fact, fifteen years ago the timing was so perfect that a Street Fighter movie was actually made. Unfortunately it wasnít any good.
Now Hyde Park and 20th Century Fox seem to be betting that weíll all jump in a time machine with them, and leap back to a day before our memories of fighting game fun were ruined by Jean-Claude Van Damme, back to a time when Street Fighter was still even remotely relevant. Because letís face it, Street Fighter hasnít been relevant in at least a decade, Street Fighter hasnít been relevant since kids stopped going to arcades, and that stopped about the time I started paying for my own car insurance. And folksÖ I have paid a lot of car insurance.
Whether or not this new incarnation ends up being any good seems almost irrelevant. The real question here is who is going to show up to see it? This isnít Transformers, a geeky, nostalgia property thatís stood the test of time and will suck thirty-something geeks back into the theaters to relive the glory days of their childhood. Street Fighter is nothing but a faded memory, a memory of better times hanging out with your friends, not of better times staring at Chun Li on a screen. Who exactly is the audience for this movie? As someone who fifteen years ago loved these games and these characters, I can say only this with any certainty: I guess it isnít me.
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release Date: February 27, 2009
Starring: Kristin Kreuk (Chun Li), Neal McDonough (Bison), Chris Klein (Nash), Michael Clarke Duncan (Balrog), Moon Bloodgood (Maya), Edmund Chen (Huang), Josie Ho (Cantana), Taboo (Vega), Pei Pei Cheng (Zhilan)
Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Produced by: Patrick Aiello, Ashok Amritraj
Written by: Justin Marks
if you're excited for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li