Tekken – Another one…

August 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm (Entertaining) (, , , , , )

I’ll say from the outset, Tekken is part of a multitude of elements that formed  my past life. A past that was consumed by video games and pop culture. I have since outgrown those days but nostalgia got the better of me just recently.

Like Adam and Eve, the Apple of Wisdom (an opportunity to watch the new Tekken Movie) was dangled in front of me. And like them, I couldn’t help but take a bite. Enlightened I was.

Now, video game to movie adaptations 101% of the time receive a negative response both from critics and fans of the inspirational material alike, and most of the time, it’s down to their respective directors’ lack of faithfulness to the source material.
But the new Tekken movie however, is business as unusual.

Obviously, as a deep seated Tekken fan I have a gene in my DNA predisposing me to disliking this movie.  But tempted I was, and looking to my oracle that is IMDB for movie ratings, I thought sating my temptation would not cause myself too much pain.

I didn’t regret it too much.

I’m what you and other people would call a simple person, but I’m not what you and other people would call a stupid one. So the sentiment of ever taking the Tekken movie seriously was laughed out the door (this helps if you are expecting the movie before you to be crap… whether it’s being crammed down your throat, or you’re clinging to that glimmer of hope that it might be good… or at least not crap).

I’ll say from the outset that I like the MMA Fight Night slant that video game movies are taking on (see also: Mortal Kombat Rebirth). The quality fight scene choreography seems to be one good way to make up for rice paper thin plot lines.

The issue I had with this movie is a strange picking and choosing of which elements they would take from the franchise, which they would not, and which they would meld to their own purposes.

To say their choices were perplexing would be letting them off lightly.

Characterisation seemed to have been given alot of careful thought, their choice of Jon Foo to play Jin was appropriate enough (on face value at least, with exception of the face). But Foo seems to have taken a few too many knocks to the head, as his diction was quite poor for an englishman. Treading the line between cockney, fobulous, and intensive care level slack jawed; all at once. He made dialogue that was no doubt unintelligible in script form, even more so in presentation.
Another thing that bothered me about Foo was the pubescent rebellious teen slant that he imbued Jin with. So much so that in the opening moments of the movie I had this confused for the Dragonball type kids movie. (This idea was put straight at the sex scene of course.)

On the other hand, his hair was awesome. Like seriously… too cool. It mimicked the in-video-game Jin hairdo, being as cool as it was unridiculous. This brings me to the strong point of the movie. Costume and characterisation was very faithful to the source material. From Dragunov’s sambo moves to Christy Monteiro’s (Kelly Overton) nose bleed sensory cleavage assault (pincer attack of boob AND butt cleavage), it was all there in loving detail.

Looking over the casting before watching the movie, I was initially dubious of their choice of Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa for Heihachi Mishima (Americanised Japanese Actor #4). But the moment he graced the screen coiffed with the Heihachi hair, I was won over. The attention to detail paid to the outlandish Tekken Hairstyles was awesome in the most laughable way.

The casting choices for all the actors playing the prominent Tekken characters may have been worrying, but they were all characterised very well enough in practice.

With one exception. And this one strikes a nerve for me, repeatedly. No it wasn’t that Jon Foo used the wrong moveset to play Jin Kazama (some were reminiscent at least), but Cung Le as Marshall Law. With the accuracy used in portraying all the other characters, Law’s video game backstory for some reason was completely ignored. Marshall Law is Bruceploitation incarnate. Sure they got the dragon pants with red sash right, but it’s like they handed Cung Le the costume and told him to just go on doing what he does. “Oh, and don’t worry about any of that Jeet Kune Do nonsense”; the only reason Marshall Law exists in the Tekken universe.
Forget the fact that he was defeated in the first real bout of the movie (he is a bumbler in the video games after all).

With such strong adherence to the superficial aspects of the Tekken Universe, these omissions prove that it is a thin veil masking a world that could easily be mistaken for one with no Tekken Lore at all. Why they pay so much attention to some details and ignore the much more glaringly obvious is simply confounding.

Another thing I feel the need to put straight. Tekken (translated roughly to iron fist)  is just the name for the Tournament itself. Why would the writers feel the need to rename the “Mishima Zaibatsu” (Zaibatsu – jpn. noun meaning gang,triad, mafia syndicate) to the “Tekken Corporation” is beyond me. It’s not a big leap to establish that the Tekken Tournament is an event run by the organisation controlled by Heihachi and Kazuya Mishima, ie the Mishima Corporation. References to “Tekken” (the corporation) within the movie could easily be mistaken for Tekken (the tournament) and could have equally easily been replaced by the name of the controlling organisation. Do they believe audiences have become that stupid?

One final sore mark on the score card is the inclusion of the girlfriend character for Jin, Kara. Her existence seemed to be for one puzzlingly random sexual encounter with Jin, and then go on to the dizzying heights of wincing and mugging and other reactionary facial expressions while watching Jin in the Tekken Tournament.
No sooner as Jin is within the walls of “Tekken” (???) is she forgotten and replaced by his pubescent lust for Christy Monteiro. This redefines meaningless. And just makes me smoulder as a Tekken Fan.

Insert angry Heihachi to show just how angry I am

Calling this movie “Post Apocalyptic Death Tournament” would have made more sense than calling this Tekken, as the whole farce was just sickeningly pandering.
It probably would have done better as a movie too.

So if you were looking for a vaguely enjoyable movie, you will find it here, even if it is debasingly pandering.

But if you’ve stumbled across this on TV one day in the hopes of finding plain and simple entertainment…

“Change duh Channel!!?”

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