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"Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li"

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak.
Written by Justin Marks.
Starring Kristin Kreuk, Neal McDonough, Chris Klein and Michael Clarke Duncan.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  3/1/09


I knew it was going to be dogshit, but I just had to know for myself: would the new "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" be better or worse than the Jean-Claude Van Damme "Street Fighter" movie from all those years ago?

The answer--NOTHING will be worse than the JCVD version, but "Legend of Chun-Li" is pretty fucking terrible.

Background: I played a lot of "Street Fighter" growing up.  My favorite character?  Chun-Li.  She was quick, had easy controls like the rapid-fire kick move, the helicopter kick move, a sweet leg sweep, and she could bounce off of the imaginary boundary walls to launch another kick attack.  But, like all of the characters in the "Street Fighter" games, I didn't know her from Adam.  There is no real backstory for those games (I'm sure a hardcore fan would argue this, but let's be real--it was insert quarter, pick picture of character, start round) and that is what always hurts things like fighting games when it comes to movies--what will the plot be when there was no plot to begin with?

In "Legend of Chun-Li", the plot is actually worse than the JCVD movie; in learning about the upbringing of Chun-Li (played with little or no bite by Kristin Kreuk, from the "Smallville" TV show), we get to see why she is supposed to be so angry, how she learned to fight first from her father, then from a mysterious resistance fighter named Gen (Robin Shou, the vet of literally three other video game-to-film adaptations), and her fight against evil crime lord M. Bison (Neal McDonough) and his henchman, a former boxer named Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan).  This would have been fine, except that a decision was made to include a parallel plot featuring a dirty-looking American Interpol agent named Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) and a Bangkok gangland inspector named Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood) who are also tracking Bison, but get nowhere until Chun-Li shows up in Bangkok.

I'll give the film a little credit for having some of the actors not totally trying to deep-six this production.  But, here are some of the problems with this film:

  • Kreuk is not hot, not a good actress, not a particularly physically-gifted actor/fighter, and lacks any legitimate charisma.  In other words, bankable sequel star, she is not.

  • M. Bison, in the games, is not a businessman who fights on the side.  He's essentially the series bad guy, and he has moves that make you think he's got magic powers and shit.  In this movie, he's basically Hans from "Die Hard", but he throws a bigger punch in the movie's end fight scene with Chun-Li.

  • Klein is such a bad actor that you will feel sorry for him--legitimately hurt inside for him--during his first scene.

  • The fight scenes in this movie aren't great.  And, stupidly, the movie usually features a fighter fighting non-fighters...blah.

  • The film's director has directed--and, no, I'm not kidding--"Cradle 2 the Grave", "Exit Wounds", and "Doom."  This resume got him the "Street Fighter" film, so clearly, the goal was to make a total piece of fucking shit.

Mission accomplished.

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 03/30/09