Sunday, 17 January 2010



I'm not a games player, as a rule. I have Grand Theft Auto III and that's about it. So all I know of the Street Fighter mythos is what I can remember from the 1994 movie, featuring the once-in-a-lifetime screen pairing of Jean-Claude Van Damme and, er, Kylie Minogue. It wasn't very good, and I haven't seen it in at least ten years.

There's obviously still money in the idea, though, as we now have Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li, which is a nuts-and-bolts, back-to-basics Bangkok-based thudfest in which various characters congregate to beat one another up. The main bad guy, Bison, is no longer some kind of South East Asian warlord but is now the heartless (and literally soulless) head of a crime syndicate, who, for reasons unexplained, has been given an Irish accent that's only apparent some of the time - as if they decided to make the guy Irish halfway through the shoot but didn't bother to redub any scenes shot thus far. Against him is Chun-Li, the concert pianist daughter of one of Bison's ex-comrades who's been trained from childhood in the martial arts and is on the inevitable quest for revenge. There's an Interpol agent (Chris Klein, the poor man's Matthew McConaughey), paired with a local gangland cop (Moon Bloodgood); and on the villain's side is the ever-reliable Michael Clarke Duncan.

If the movie is frequently unbelievably silly - and there are several points where it's momumentally silly - it does at least move at a decent pace, it's well shot, and the frequent fight scenes are satisfyingly crunchy, and for once they're not over-edited to subliminal incoherence or too reliant on the kind of wire work that means everyone can actually fly. It isn't anything we haven't seen before, yet it does almost work as a throwback to 80s and 90s beat-em-up B-movies. A personable cast, some decent fight scenes and good production values help to make it fairly enjoyable no-think DVD fare. Maybe I'm being absurdly generous, but I wasn't bored and I genuinely don't think it's as rotten as some of the reviews have suggested.


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