Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I'll tell you this thing about the new 'Street Fighter Movie'... it's better than the one Jean Claude and them pulled off back in 1994. Of course in the history of 'faint praise' there may be none more faint than that, but there you go. This doesn't mean that 'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li' won't be in the running for the stupidest movie of the year 2009, perhaps of the decade, but if you dig deep... and I'm talking to depths of hell deep... you may find some entertainment value in this movie.

Actress Kristin Kruek narrates as the character Chun-Li, with all the gusto of a woman who is on an I.V. Valium drip, informing us about her idyllic life with her Chinese business man father (Edmund Chen) and her beautiful American mother. All little Chun-Li wants to do is play her piano and love her dad but that simple plan is thrown into disarray when the family gets a late night visit from the evil Bison (Neil McDonough) and his right hand man Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan). So Bison kidnaps this guy. The question is why? Well if you watch the movie the reason seems to be that Chun-Li's dad is the only person Bison is associated with who knows how to use the Internet. Seriously. That's the reason.

Chun Li grows up to be a concert pianist but she's never forgotten dear old dad, thinking him to be dead somewhere. Then one day she gets a mystical scroll, takes it a mystical Chinese lady who inform Chun Li that she needs to find the Mystical Gen (Robin Shou) who will lead her down the path she's long been seeking... the path to kick some ass. Chun-Li lives on the streets of Bangkok for, hell, I don't know long, desperately searching for the mystical Gen. Then when she finally find the dude she's all pissed off and uncooperative. What gives Chun? I kinda thought you were looking for this dude?

So while Chun-Li isn't searching, learning and kicking ass, Bison is steady rolling up mad dollars well on his way to becoming the criminal mastermind of the earth, largely due to Chun-Li's dad's ability to use Firefox. Assigned to stop Bisonís criminal empire are top Bangkok cop Sunee (Moon Bloodgod) and grizzled veteran interpol agent Nash (Chris Klein) who are also trying to track down the ass kicking hottie who is taking down Bison's best without nary breaking a nail. You see it seems that Chun Li has discovered 'her path' and this path is snapping suckers necks. But what is Bison really up to and what is the 'White Rose' that he is attempting to secure? Hmmm....

I doubt very seriously that enough people are going to see this movie to warrant a sequel despite the fact, judging by the final scene, that this seems to be setup as a series featuring the myriad of 'Streetfighter' characters, but if by chance there is another film following this one I implore the geniuses at Capcom to use the KISS approach and just keep it simple, stupid. 'Legend of Chun-Li' has a plot that is so ridiculously over complicated and has so may obscure near worthless elements that it's not to be believed. Mind you we do understand that 'Street Fighter' is a near plotless videogame featuring 2D spites kicking each other until one of the sprites stops moving, but with the secret societies and black magic and back room deals with the devil and piano concertos and interpol agents and all of the other little silly stuff thrown into the mix, I'm a thinking we may have went a bit overboard trying to compensate for the video games lack of complexity. I'm not telling you the story is hard to understand, but it's just silly. Laughably so.

Now once you get past the totally ridiculousness that is the narrative of 'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li' things aren't all that bad. It's not great but it's not terrible. What does help the movie is that Neil McDonough and Michael Clarke Duncan, a pair of professional heavies if their ever were professional heavies, make for a great pair of bad guys in this flick. McDonough brings a cool menace to the party to offset Mr. Duncan's maniacal evil glee, that is when he wasn't delivering critical memo's as the worlds largest personal secretary... and truth to be told, without them, there is almost nothing worth seeing in this movie.

The fight scenes are okay but for a movie calling itself 'Streetfighter' one would've thought there would be more of them. The dialog that they saddled these poor actors with would make even worst 5 cent pulp novelist blush in shame. Kristin Kruek is plenty good looking but considering I had trouble buying into her as a concert pianist, seeing her as Kung Fu master was truly a stretch, and Chris Klein could possibly be the worst excuse for a grizzled interpol agent of all time.

But as a piece of throwaway entertainment, considering that this movie does move at fairly rapid pace, does have some fight scenes if not enough of them and is blessed to Neil McDonough and Michael Clarke Duncan among its cast... and if you dig real deep into the recesses of your soul to be entertained then 'Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li' might just get the job done for you a little bit.

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