Video Game Adaptations: Tekken (2010)
It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at this series, and that’s because the constant onslaught of Boll movies had started to get me down. Seriously, there’s only so many times that you can watch the utter incompetence of some of this shit before it starts to cut into your soul, and even a soul as despoiled as mine has its limit. This painful series has been an endurance test of the worst kind with nary a chuckle to be had and so I come back to it with a sense of foreboding. I’ve shifted the worst of the Boll-fests so surely, surely I must be in for a break.
With that, it’s time to take on the 2010 film Tekken. Now personally, I believe that adapting a fighting game to the screen must be the hardest type of game to adapt. On one hand, you’ve got almost absolute freedom with the plot and aren’t tied into anything representing a coherent narrative because it doesn’t matter. The point of the game is the tournament- all the player cares about is beating the stuffing out of the collection of pixels opposite. On the other hand, there’s the problem of constructing a coherent narrative that contains the all important fighting. Some films ignore the tournament altogether (Street Fighter) whereas others try to create a narrative that revolves around the actual bouts themselves (Mortal Kombat). The problem with the latter as a course of action is that the signature fight moves aren’t remotely realistic and utterly beyond the ability of the actors to realistic portray. Mortal Kombat attempted to solve this by setting it in a purely fantastic world, Tekken (which follows this path) was always more grounded (there are no fireballs in the game as far as I can remember) and a wee bit more realistic. Although I have only played the third one.
So, given the above, why in the name of Lucifer would you write a Tekken film, and set it in a dystopian near future?
That’s right, we’ve got Tekken reimagined by an idiot. Still, at least it did promise to be based around the actual tournament, which meant, in theory, lots of fisticuffs and so forth and not any romance or anything. OK, it’s the near future, and the criminal Zaibatsu corporations have taken over. The largest is Tekken, which controls the city where the action takes place in, and runs the Iron Fist tournament. Tekken is controlled by Heihachi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa sporting alarming hair) and his sociopathic son Kazuya (Ian Anthony Dale).
So far so good, and we’re introduced to Jin (Jon Foo). Jin is a smuggler or some such, running goods from inside the city to the poverty stricken hordes outside. His mother, Jun (Tamlyn Tomita) trained him in kick ass fu, or some shit. Anyhow, she’s killed by Tekken forces commanded by Kazuya (who is Jin’s dad due to a rape or something, I wasn’t really paying attention to be honest) and Jin goes to join the Iron Fist to get revenge.
First of all he’s got to win the qualifying round against Marshall Law (Cung Le). Groan all you like, that’s the character’s name in the stupid game, and it’s this fight that sets the pattern for the film. Basically, Jin gets his arse handed to him for a while, then he has a flashback to something his mother taught him, and continuity goes out of the window as he gets up and wipes the floor with Law. No sooner has he qualified than he’s picked up by Steve Fox (Luke Goss, having fun) and meets Christie Montiero (Kelly Overton) and the other fighters including Anna and Nina Williams, Raven, Yoshimitsu, and half-cyborg Bryan Fury.
Jin cleans up his first fight, using helpful advice from Steve (“That guy’s a dick”) and in the meantime has to fight off an attempted hit from Anna and Nina. Nina, incidentally, is battered by Christie in the next fight. In the next fight, Jin gets battered by Yoshimitsu for a while before drawing on the spirit of his dead mother to find some extra techniques to win. Outside of the ring, Kazuya’s marbles are going a wee bit, and he takes control. This prompts Jin, Steve, Christie and Raven to bust out, taking Heihachi with them. Kazuya, waving goodbye to sanity, decides that the rest of the matches have to be mortal combat, leading to Jin facing off against Bryan in the final. Which Jin wins. Then he beats up Kazuya to be proclaimed “The People’s Champion”.
This is, to be honest, a very, very stupid film. Yet in a really cretinous way, it’s sort of entertaining. The fighting was choreographed by Cyril Raffaeli, and as such its rapid as all fuck and kind of enjoyable. Much against my better instincts, I was rooting for Jin to wipe the floor with everyone, even though I know that this is paste-eatingly stupid. I swear though, this isn’t down to the performances, because the only one that’s worth noting is Goss. I’ve absolutely no idea why I was rooting for him, and I’m mildly disgusted at myself for it.
The problem is that the director isn’t that competent shooting fight scenes. With a resume containing such gems as Halloween 4 and Anaconda 2, Dwight H. Little hasn’t some experience shooting fight scenes. So there’s a fair old whack of slo-mo, the odd sequence is set too close to the character and there’s the occasional reach to get the iconic shot from the game (Jin’s finishing move on Bryan). Luckily, he’s smart enough, most of the time, to put the camera back and allow the fighting to unfold properly, but occasionally it’s all too confusing to watch.
If you’ve seen one fighting movie, you’ve seen all of them. However, Tekken is an especially dumb one. The script is pretty lousy, and the storyline makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s tried to incorporate elements from the game’s story, to little avail, whereas, to be honest, who gives a fuck? Games like this are all about the fighting- just make a tournament film, and don’t bother with nightmarish visions of the near future that are completely beyond your ability to make.
Then there’s the costume design. Someone, who shall remain nameless, worked very hard to get the characters to look like their digital counterparts. However, there’s a stroke of genius here, and that’s whoever did Overton’s wardrobe. Not only is she very, very fetching, but these costumes nearly defy belief. We’re meant to understand that she’s fighting in a latex costume so tight it’s spray-painted on with her arse literally hanging out the back of it. Fucking inspired. When I first saw it, I howled with laughter and it didn’t get any less amusing, partially due to her obvious discomfort.
Overall, it isn’t a good film, but it is so dumb that I did kind of have a good time with it. I shouldn’t give it a pass, because it is fundamentally terrible with little other than Kelly’s butt cleavage to recommend it, yet, damn it, I did sort of enjoy myself. Not only has Overton announced herself as a potential Astrodyke here, but the film itself is so, so stupid that it almost transcends its cretinism and becomes, well, fun. Take this for what you will, but due to the dismal standards of this series, I’m going to award it a very cautious pass. A very, very cautious pass indeed:
However, I suspect this is a film that improves exponentially with beer, because although I did have fun, it is colossally dim witted and immensely shoddy. Still, it’s getting a pass in comparison to the other films in this series, and damn it, I’m kind of looking forward to Tekken 2 now.
Until next time,