Two of my favorite films of all time are Bloodsport and Mortal Kombat. Before you start groaning, let me explain why. They both act as the total testosterone injection for all of the macho men out there. These movies have tournament style martial arts and MMA mayhem where the only code is to beat your opponent until he/she is defeated. Then they move on to the next fight. Usually, there are theatrics thrown in there too, like to save the world or restore honor. Enter my next review movie: Tekken.
Sometime in the future, the world is plunged into chaos. Eight different corporations take over the world and divide the countries between them. They establish a yearly tournament called Iron Fst which is supposed to determine the greatest fighter of the world. The US territory is controlled by Tekken and headed by one, Heihachi Mishima (played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) with his son, Kazuya (played by Ian Anthony Dale) in charge of security.
We fade to a man named Jin (played by Jon Foo) who is trying to escape from some thugs. In his possession, he has Tekken contraband, an item that the underground needs to hack the corporation’s computers. He finally escapes and takes the item to Bonner (played by John Pyper-Ferguson), leader of the underground who pays him handsomely for his efforts.
Jin goes off to spend his money at a local bar getting a few pleasantries in life. He purchases some coffee, an orange and chocolate from a local pimp. Things we enjoy today for some pocket change are worth a pretty penny in the future. There appears to be an open call for fighters to compete in a try out for the Iron Fist tournament against Marshall Law (played by Cung Le). But Jin is not having any of it and decides to head on home.
There he sees his mother, Jun (played by Tamlyn Tomita) and hands her the coffee and orange. She asks with shock how he procured these items and that starts a large argument. Jin soon leaves in frustration and runs into his girlfriend, Kara (played by Mircea Monroe). They soon start to make out and do other naughty things while a few important events go down.
The Tekken security force of Kazuya and his many Jacks break into Bonner’s underground lair and take him and his crew out as they were trying to hack the firewall. In addition, security also breaks into Jin’s home and an explosion erupts which takes out his mother and random members of security. Jin and Kara soon depart and once Jin gets home, he discovers the wreckage and what is left. After looking through some artifacts, he discovers that his mother was once an employee of the Tekken corporation.
Frustrated and upset, Jin decides to go to the Open Call and watches as former boxer, Steve Fox (played by Luke Goss) calls out to the people for somebody to come forward to be possibly the People’s Choice. After a few moments, Jin decides to take Steve up on his offer and follows him inside. Once inside, he steps inside the cage to fight his first opponent, Marshall Law. Can he overcome this challenge and become the People’s Choice? Only then will he be able to fight in the Iron Fist tournament.
Before I continue, I probably should introduce some of the other fighters who show up after the first half hour. We have the reigning champ, Bryan Fury (played by Gary Daniels) as well as swordsman Yoshimitsu (played by Gary Ray Stearns). In addition on the male side, we also see such notables such as Raven (played by Darrin Dewitt Henson) and Eddie Gordo (played by Lateef Crowder).
On the female side, we have fan favorite Christie Monteiro (played by Kelly Overton) who eventually develops an attraction for young Jin. Then there are the infamous Williams sisters (anybody who has played Tekken knows these two), Nina and Anna (played by Candice Hillebrand and Marian Zapico). All in all, there are quite a few recognizable characters from the popular video game series.
I have played many of the Tekken games with the exception of the last couple. This movie brought back a lot of memories and the fact I have the latest one in my un-played pile will probably mean I will give it a shot in the near future. I was also worried however how campy this might play out. I have fond memories of Mortal Kombat which I mention in the opener but not so fond memories of the sequel that followed. It was to my surprise that this movie is actually quite good.
The fight scenes in this movie are top notch and I was actually quite impressed with the different fight styles that were on display. There is a good deal of karate, MMA style and even some Capoeira thrown in for good measure. Jon Foo is very convincing as Jin and if you take a look at the character in game, he is a pretty reasonable double. The other characters are pretty close as well and it is obvious that they spent a lot of time with the game when designing the fights.
A special mention should be given to Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa who I have immensely enjoyed over the years. Unfortunately, he does not get any fight scenes here but he figures heavily into the plot. He has the best lines, delivery and plays a convincing corporate head. He brings credibility to this movie which helps for those one or two expected campy moments. But overall, this is a great popcorn movie with impressive visuals and plenty of nods to the classic fighting game series.
The video is in 2.35:1 widescreen presentation in 1080p resolution. This movie is very new, however it felt a little dated. I expected the costumes to be somewhat retro in their homage to the video game but what I did not expect was the amount of grain in most scenes. A lot of this movie is at night and images can often be fuzzy and pixilated. While, it is not out of focus, it is hardly anything special. The movie best shines when in the Iron Fist Arena and there is a lot of color on display.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English Dolby True-HD track. Audio fares much better than its video counterpart. Audio is strong and dialog does not have to be turned up hardly at all to notice the clarity. Right out of the box, we get a song entitled You’re Going Down by the Sick Puppies which sets the mood and the surrounds take over from there. It is fun, fast and quite the thrill ride audibly. Subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers : UFC – Best of 2010.
- Stunt Stars: Tekken 51:02: Cyril Raffaelli, the stunt coordinator is on focus here. Here is a little something you probably didn’t figure out, this was setup in an arena in Shreveport, Louisiana for three months. But this is a very lengthy featurette that primarily goes over the Jin/Yoshimitsu fight in detail along with some extra time dedicated to the parkour abilities exhibited in shooting the rooftop chase scene. Great stuff, top notch extra.
- Trailer 2:25: A good trailer to get the mood going. This one would have worked on me big time if I did not review it.
- DVD+Digital Copy: DVD and Digital Copy included on the same separate disc.
Sadly, this movie was released direct to disc. It had a $35 million budget (most was probably used for Heihachi’s hair and the fresh orange). It also received poor reviews from critics who I am guessing expected it to be the next Raging Bull, I am not really sure. According to some reports, Katsuhiro Harada director of the Tekken game series did not even like it. Namco apparently had no involvement in the movie which is a shame.
However, I thought the movie was a pleasant surprise. The fights were extremely well choreographed and the acting was not a complete campfest. The disc was a mixed bag with okay video and better than average audio. The lone extra was an excellent one but this package could have benefited from a commentary and perhaps deleted scenes if they were available. Oh, by the way since you made it to the end of my review, there is a special treat to see at the end of the movie’s credits. Recommended for all fight fans, enjoy.