Films based on video games rarely succeed. In fact, most of them are laughably bad. The most recent one is Tekken, a film based on Namco’s fighting game of the same name. While it doesn’t offer much in the area of story or character development, it does deliver some fast paced and extremely well choreographed fight scenes. It’s also nowhere near as bad as any of the Street Fighter films.
The film follows Jin (Jon Foo), a man who makes his living running from gangs and providing contraband to rebels fighting against the Tekken corporation; the corporate owner of what used to be America. The United States, along with every other country, was lost in war years ago and corporations rose up and took over.
To maintain order and placate the masses, the Tekken corporation instituted martial law and offered people the Iron Fist Tournament, a yearly ultimate fighting battle in which fighters from around the world battle to become the world champion. This, along with a thuggish, mindless army called Jack Hammers, keeps most of the population from rising up against their corporate overlords.
Jin was content to stay out of any possible rebellion until his mother was killed by Tekken soldiers. Newly motivated, Jin enters the Iron Fist Tournament intent on killing the rulers of the Tekken corporation, Heiachi (Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa) and his son Kazuya (Ian Anthony Dale). Along the way, Jin befriends an ex-fighter named Steve Fox (Luke Goss) and falls for fellow competitor Christie Monteiro (Kelly Overton).
One problem with the film is that the rules of the Iron Fist tournament are unclear at best and a complete mystery at worst. In the end, the tournament reaches its semifinal with eight competitors remaining and then suddenly moves on to the finals. Whether women compete against men in the tournament is unclear; but the ladies definitely fought guys in the game and the lack of girl vs, guy fights in Tekken the movie is a politically correct choice that is likely to irk long time fans.
Speaking of fans ,those who enjoy the Tekken videogame series, especially those in fealty to its legendary characters and storylines, should be prepared to be offended. Much of the lore and many of your favorite characters have been excised in favor of a slightly more straight forward storyline.
The fight choreography in Tekken was crafted by Cyril Raffaelli, the groundbreaking Parkour master who became famous for his incredible work on District B13 and its sequel. Raffaelli is aided by a well trained cast of mixed martial arts specialists, including a pair of Strikeforce champions, and star Jon Foo, who trained under Jackie Chan and is skilled in multiple fighting styles. While the plot of Tekken is extraneous and unimportant and the acting is so-so, the satisfyingly bloody and videogame-esque fight scenes alone are worth the price of a rental.
As for the Blu-Ray presentation of Tekken, Anchor Bay is releasing the Blu-Ray and the transfer is more than adequate for a film of such limited visual dynamism. The filmmakers saved the best stuff for the fight scenes which really pop on Blu-Ray, with color and fast pace. The sounds of fist pounding flesh, bones breaking and the pulsing heavy metal score comes through with ear aching clarity in Dolby True HD 5.1 and dialogue is always centered and clear.
As for special features, Tekken isn’t exactly the kind of movie that requires a film school dissection. There is one feature though that is quite good. It’s a look at the film’s excellent fight scenes and it’s dedicated to the extraordinary efforts of stunt coordinator Cyril Raffaelli. Considering that Raffaelli’s work is the best thing in the movie, it makes sense that it gets the only feature. Also included is a trailer, if that interests you.
If you’re going to pick up Tekken, know what you’re getting into. It’s by no means a great film, but it’s passable. The fighting is fantastic and it does manage to entertain. Those who are fans of the videogame may not take kindly to some of the creative choices at play here but overall, this isn’t nearly as bad as some of the other videogame based films that we’ve seen.
Bone crushing and bloody fight scenes make Tekken, based on the popular arcade game, worth a look on Blu-Ray.