Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
 
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


EN-GARDE: Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) is ready to take on all comers in her quest to free her kinapped father and restore the rule of law to the Bangkok waterfront.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li: Action Aplenty in Abysmal Sequel to Original “Streetfighter”

Kam Williams

In 1994, the popular computer game Street Fighter was made into a movie — which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme — that was an incoherent concatenation of poorly choreographed martial arts action scenes. The only reason that this otherwise forgettable film is even a footnote in the annals of cinematic history is because, sadly, it turned out to be the swan song of Raul Julia who passed away — at the age of 54 — prior to the picture’s release.

Since the original bombed at the box office, one must wonder why any studio decided to make a sequel 15 years later, especially when, as it turns out, the second film is no better than the first one. The movie was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die) who overhauled the cast entirely, starting with Kristin Kreuk in the title role of Chun-Li. Other substitutes include Neal McDonough as the diabolical Bison, along with Michael Clarke Duncan and the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo as his sadistic henchman, Balrog and Vega, respectively.

At the opening of the movie we learn, via a flashback narrated by Chun-Li, that when she was a little girl, her father (Edmund Chen) was kidnapped by some thugs who were members of the Shadalao (pidgin English for “Shadow Law”) crime syndicate. Fast forward to the present when we find that Chun-Li has become an accomplished karate master and is en-route to Thailand where, rumor has it, her kidnapped father has been a prisoner of Bison and his gang all these years.

Her arrival is timely, since the madman recently hosted a “Last Supper” during which he beheaded the boss of every competing crime family in Bangkok. With the Shadalao gang on the verge of gaining complete control of the waterfront, it falls to Chun-Li, in league with Interpol Agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein), local detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood), and a secret society of ninjas led by a mysterious man named Gen (Robin Shou), to save the day.

The plot then seizes on the flimsiest of excuses to initiate a series of clumsily orchestrated fight scenes, sloppily executed stunts, chase sequences, pyrotechnics, and detonations. Unfortunately, only diehard fans of the video game are likely to keep track of the body-count during all of these events.

As Chun-Li sets about righting all of the wrongs and avenging her father’s kidnapping, the epic battle of good versus evil is so undermined by cheesy special effects and corny dialogue that the spectacle adds up to an experience that is best described as laughable. And to top it all off, the films ends on a cliffhanger, clearly setting the stage for another sequel.

At least after this film, I only need to find nine more movies in order for me to complete this year’s 10 Worst Movies list.

Poor (0 stars). Rated PG-13 for sensuality and martial arts violence. In Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, Russian, Gaelic, and English with subtitles. Running time: 97 minutes. Studio: 20th Century Fox.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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