Action Movie Fanatix Review: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Street Fighter The Legend of ChunLi

Some Fight For Power.  Some Fight For Us.

Starring: Kristin Kreuk, Chris Klein, Neal McDonough, Robin Shou, Moon Bloodgood, Josie Ho, Taboo, Michael Clarke Duncan

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

2009  |  97 Minutes  |  PG-13

“Get the insurance policy.  Call Vega.” – M. Bison

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li was another movie I avoided for quite a while.  It just didn’t look good and I didn’t really understand why a movie solely about Chun-Li was supposed to be appealing.

When crime lord M. Bison (Neal McDonough) takes Chun-Li’s (Kristin Kreuk) father captive, she grows up to hate the man that took her father from her.  Chun-Li vows to rescue the father she hasn’t seen in so many years.

Chun-Li was always one of my least favorite Street Fighter characters so it really isn’t any surprise that I wasn’t pumped about this release.  Why even make a movie about Chun Li?  There are so much better characters from Street Fighter.  The JCVD movie focused on Guile so I guess I could understand no wanting to go that route again.  Ryu and Ken seem like the most logical choices since they have a good buddy story.  But we are left with The Legend of Chun-Li… like people have been talking about where this mysterious, legendary hero came from.

I originally questioned why the producers would choose to use Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li but it turns out Kreuk is half Chinese and trained karate for many years so I am giving them a pass on their selection and she isn’t too bad in the part.

Vega on the other hand is played by Taboo from Black Eyed Peas… one of the coolest characters from the game is played by one of the least known people from pop group.  On top of that the mask he wears didn’t look like it even fit him.  Then, the movie builds him up to be a real badass only to have Chun-Li defeat him quite easily.  What a waste.

Neal McDonough is generally a good actor and does well as M. Bison here but the character really isn’t M. Bison.  Instead of being a sort of military leader he is a crime lord.  Instead of wearing a military uniform he wears a business suit.  And we are told he is Irish…  Really?  M. Bison is also given a really dumb backstory where he kills his wife in a cave and then performs some sort of ceremony to remove any good from himself to make his daughter pure which of course makes him pure evil.

M. Bison’s right hand man is Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan – RIP big guy).  In the game Balrog is a boxer, in The Legend of Chun-Li he wears black leather guns and punches things a lot.  I guess that is the same thing to the film makers.

Where is M. Bison’s real right hand man, Zanghief???  This movie was definitely lacking a big Russian dude.

When adapting a comic book or video game property, why is it the first response of costume designers to make everyone wear black.  Video games and comic books are generally very colorful in their design and turning everything black tends to dwindle the characters individuality.  Chun-Li does eventually put on a little blue dress that loosely resembles her in game outfit and puts the buns in her hair.  It was nice to see but I definitely would have preferred that all of the characters be given something a little closer to what they have become known for in the games.  Even giving M. Bison a red or burgundy suit would have been a step up.

Unlike the character designs, the fights actually kept somewhat true to the video game.  Chun-Li learned the ability to throw a fireball and she did her little backflip kick thingy.  If these things had been done in a true martial arts movie I would have hated it but it worked here because of the source material.

As far as a Street Fighter movie goes, SF:TLOCL is pretty miserable.  As a martial arts/action movie featuring non-martial arts stars I guess it isn’t so bad.  If you can overlook a lot of flaws it can be mildly entertaining but I actually think I would prefer to watch the JCVD Street Fighter movie again.

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