Video games, like comic books, have been the basis of many movies. Some have been pretty good like the Laura Croft: Tomb Raider movies and some have been pretty bad like Wing Commander and Super Mario Bros. This is director Andrzej Bartkowiak second attempt in the video game to movie genre. His first try was Doom in 2005, which was a flop. His newest effort with “Chun Li” is not much better.
Thankfully, this latest “Street Fighter” movie has no connection to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s awful 1994 movie. It is suppose to be an origin story for Chun Li. As a little girl Chun Li, played by Kristin Kreuk (TV’s Smallville), loves to play the piano for her father. After the family moves to Hong Kong, Chun Li finds another love, learning martial arts from her father. Chun Li’s happy childhood comes to sudden end when her father, a successful business man, is taken hostage by Bison (Neal McDonough, Walking Tall). Bison is the head of a crime organization whose goal is to take over all the illegal activities in Bangkok. The “muscle” behind Bison’s “brains” is Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan). If Bison has a problem, Balrog is sent out to solve it with his fist.
Eventually, Chun Li grows up to be a successful concert pianist. Her life takes another turn when she receives a mysterious invitation to come Bangkok to meet a man named Gen (Robin Shou, Mortal Kombat). After searching for Gen, Chun Li finally finds him and he becomes her new martial arts teacher. After seeing how poor and mistreated the people of Bangkok are, Chun Li decides to take action to improve these people’s lives. There is only one way to accomplish this goal and that is to bring down Bison. Besides Chun Li, Interpol agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein, American Pie) and Bangkok cop Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood, Pathfinder) are working hard to also end Bison’s reign of terror.
Andrzej Bartkowiak is also no stranger to making martial arts movies. He directed Cradle 2 the Grave and Romeo Must Die staring “One of the Original Kings of Martial Arts” Jet Li. After working with a legend like Li, I’d hope the experience would have enriched Bartkowiak enough to be able to have a clue on how to make a good martial arts movie. I guess he must have to been watching Li too much and paying attention too little to grasp how to create an exciting film experience. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li is dull and lifeless.
Kristin Kreuk fails at being the lead in a martial arts movie. Her fighting scenes make Chun Li look like a white belt rather than a master. Michelle Yeoh is still the Queen of martial arts. Kreuk does not bring any excitement or intensity to her role even when she delivers lines like, “I want you to send Bison a message. Tell him the schoolgirl’s grown up.” Michael Clarke Duncan and Moon Bloodgood only seem to be around to show off their bodies. Chris Klien adds nothing meaningful to this movie. Robin Shou sounds like he’s read too many fortune cookies and is given little chance to show off his martial arts abilities. The normally entertaining Neil McDonough is unable to add any life to his character.
In his first major Hollywood movie, writer Justin Marks pens a story with some holes in it. The reason why Chun Li’s father is taken hostage by Bison is not very clear and also Bison’s relationship with his daughter is confusing. Fight choreographer Dion Lam was very innovative in his work on The Matrix movies, but here he is very uncreative, except for the fight scene between Chun Li’s father and Bison’s henchmen.
Along with Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li is the newest addition to the growing list of good video games, bad movies.