JAPAN / USA 2010  Directed by: Dwight H. Little Story by: Namco Written by: Alan B. McElroy, Michael Colleary, Mike Werb  Produced by: Steven Paul, Benedict Carver, Iddo Lampton Enochs Cinematography: Brian J. Reynolds  Editing: David Checel Music: John Hunter Cast: Jon Foo, Kelly Overton, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ian Anthony Dale, Gary Daniels, Luke Goss, Lateef Crowder, Candice Hillebrand, Mircea Monroe, Marian Zapico, Monica Mal, Cung Le

I am not certain if it is the firm belief of the creators of TEKKEN that a movie based on a video game has to look like a video game, or if that happens to be the result of a shoestring budget. Whatever the reason, the film does look like a / the video game, just less appealing.

In a nutshell, TEKKEN is about the King Of Iron Fist tournament, the Tekken Corporation’s interpretation of panem et circenses, in which fighters battle until the last man standing who will become a superstar. In a world that was thoroughly destroyed by several world wars the tournament is not only prime time entertainment for the masses, but also a way out of the miserable remains of human civilization.

Jin Kazama, a young, rebellious martial artist is looking to avenge his mother who was killed during Tekken’s crackdown on a slum outside Tekken City. He enters the tournament to get to the big boss and kill him. What he doesn’t know is that his father he’s never met in his life is working for the dark side. Jin is on collision course with his past, inevitably putting at risk his future.

TEKKEN is mostly about the tournament, so apart from a few dirty dusty “outdoor” locations it all happens inside the tournament arena. The fighters fight, the spectators hail, the organizers are in control. In between the tournament rounds we learn more about Jin’s youth (mostly through repetitive flashbacks) and are getting closer to find out about his father (you might be finding out quicker than the movie though). Of course there’s also a showdown, and a few showdowns on the way to the showdown.

Now, I don’t mind a good B-movie that delivers, but what simply doesn’t work for me is a B-movie that tries too hard to add depth and meaning to an otherwise trivial story, confusing us with oh-so-smart but actually idiotic dialogue, pseudo-philosophical ideas and laughable attempts of Shakespearian acting (“you don’t know anything about me”; really, I don’t want to know anything about you). It’s just like Kenny G trying to play Jazz; dreadful.

What’s more is the uninspired, rudimental camerawork that never ever once manages to create cinematographic impact. No matter what the choreography does or potentially could do, Brian J. Reynolds makes sure it has no effect. Needless to say that a movie adaptation trailing far behind the original video game in terms of action and pace isn’t exactly what fan boys might have waited for. Add to that semi-likeable and semi-talented actors / fighters, and you’ll not have much left writing about: Jon Foo remains a pale hero throughout, and the rest of the cast is as underwhelming as the story, the sets and the CGI effects.

You should be able sitting through TEKKEN with a couple of beers and a couple of friends though (in this order), it has a few catchy moments and the bad stuff is mostly really funny. If they only had added Christopher Lambert to the cast TEKKEN could have almost become a must-see bad movie.


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