It’s not too often that I’ll review something such as a movie, but here we are. The Tekken movie is, of course, based on the Tekken fighting game series so it isn’t terribly unusual for me to decide to review it. I was not expecting much going into this movie, which is the way to approach the Tekken movie. Do not have any expectations and you will not be disappointed. As a long time Tekken fan, I knew that the movie wouldn’t live up to the series it is based on, and as long as you accept this before viewing the movie then you shouldn’t be too let down.
Tekken butchers the plot and story of the video games. “Tekken” is a corporation in the movie rather than just being the title. The story says that there was a war or something along those lines and the nations of the world fell. Anarchy began to rise and chaos reigned, but then the world’s eight largest corporations stood up and took control of the situation, essentially taking over the fallen nations. The “Tekken Corporation” assumed control of the Americas, and is thankfully headed by Heihachi Mishima. Unlike the games, Kazuya Mishima rules Tekken with his old man, though Kaz isn’t too keen on being number two and would rather rule in Heihachi’s place.
Every once in a while, the eight corporations that now rule (which are collectively known as “Iron Fist”), hold a fighting tournament for… well, no apparent reason at all other than to stick it to the other corporations by beating the fighters that they enter. The protagonist, Jin Kazama, gets his lucky break and is able to enter the tournament after defeating a Tekken fighter named Marshall Law who, for some reason, also fights random people off the street. The fight between Jin and Law is televised, and the defeat of Tekken’s Law impresses Heihachi greatly, though Kazuya considers Jin to be nothing more than a lucky rookie. Steve Fox, a retired boxer who organizes fights with Marshall Law, decides to sponsor Jin so that he can enter the Iron Fist Tournament as Tekken’s representative in the tournament. Jin agrees to do so, but only because he seeks to kill Heihachi. Why? Well, watch the movie and find out. Along the way, Jin befriends fellow tournament fighter Christie Monteiro (if “befriending” is what you would call Jin making out with her) and Raven as they fight to stay in the tournament. Rather than giving away the entire plot of the movie, I’m going to stop right there and move onto something else.
Tekken’s best feature is undoubtedly the costumes. A few characters such as Anna Williams, Bryan Fury and Eddy Gordo (called Eddie in the movie) look pretty good while most of the others either look nothing like their video game counterparts or instead look like bad cosplayers. There are two costumes in the movie which are actually fantastic looking, and they are Raven and Yoshimitsu. Raven looks like he stepped straight out of the video game, which was very impressive. My only beef with the Raven actor is that his voice isn’t as deep as that of the character he’s based on. Yoshimitsu doesn’t speak at all and is a silent samurai. He looks pretty awesome, and I think his costume was inspired by his Tekken 3 appearance. This is great, since Yoshimitsu looked pretty awesome in that game. The silliest costumes are easily Jin and Kazuya, who look nothing like their video game counterparts. Kazuya with a goatee? Uh, no thanks..
The acting is pretty good for a video game movie. I drew a lot of comparisons between this movie and the 1995 Mortal Kombat film. Tekken easily takes the cake as the movie with better acting. A few characters were pretty lame in terms of acting, such as Jin and the Williams sisters. As a sort of Jet Li hero, Jon Foo does an okay job but his portrayal as Jin Kazama is hardly accurate.
Likewise, the Williams sisters are just bad. Nina resembles a broadway model and always has a silly smirk on her face, which is just not very Nina-like at all. Anna was essentially a mute throughout the entire film and didn’t even get a fight scene, so I can’t comment on her at all really. I never thought of Anna as quiet though, and I’m surprised that the writers didn’t make her resemble her typical flirtatious self. The Williams sisters do not seem like very serious characters in this movie at all, despite even having a scene where they try to assassinate a character together. The fact that they were both in bed with Kazuya at the same time early in the film takes the two characters down yet another notch. Speaking of that scene, what the hell? Does anyone know two sisters in real life who would jump in bed together with a guy? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Ian Anthony Dale as Kazuya was a bag of mixed nuts. I think that the actor himself is pretty awesome and I always love watching him, mostly for his cool voice. However, his portrayal as Kazuya is pretty questionable. I mean, it’s hard enough seeing past that frigging goatee, but the fact that Kazuya isn’t very ruthless or even truly evil in this movie is disappointing. Kazuya is just a whiny son who manipulates the situation so that he can control everything. I know that Ian Anthony Dale had to act the way in which he did, so I can’t be too hard on him. He did a good enough job, though a certain line he spoke after a warehouse explodes late in the movie was so bad that it was cringe-worthy.
I like Christie’s actress. I think anyone will like her performance as long as they overlook the fact that she’s clearly not Brazilian. She delivers some decent performances which are probably among the best in the entire movie. She is miles ahead of the other female characters in the movie with the exception of perhaps Jun Kazama, played by Tamlyn Tomita. Unfortunately Jun’s role is really only prominent early on in the movie, but she does a really good job and I liked her actress quite a lot. She never came across as being uncomfortable in her role, instead pulling off a very convincing performance. I really wish that she had been in more scenes, because she was definitely a very fine actress.
Bryan, Dragunov, Eddy, Law, Raven.. They did alright with their roles. Bryan is probably the best acted character out of the opposing fighters in the movie, but I suppose that may be because he gets a little extra on-screen attention due to being the champion of the last tournament. Yeah, that’s pretty different from the games and I actually liked it! A tournament winner who isn’t a Mishima? I wish that the games would follow the same route for once.
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who played Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat movie, plays Heihachi. Like Ian Anthony Dale, I’ve always liked this guy. His acting isn’t top notch, but he’s so much fun to watch that you can ignore the fact that he’s not the best actor in the film. I always get the impression that Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa simply loves playing the characters he ends up portraying. I really did enjoy him as Heihachi. His hair is really silly and he forces himself a bit too much with some of his facial expressions, but he’s just too damn likeable and fun to watch.
The only character I did not like would be Miguel. A character who was introduced in Tekken 6 has no reason to be in this movie, especially since he was essentially just a fodder character in the tournament. It would have made a lot more sense to have another Tekken tough guy such as Bruce, Marduk or Paul in place of Miguel. The fact that Miguel got into the movie over far better characters and didn’t even have a lasting role isn’t what bothers me most, though. My main complaint about the Miguel character is that he didn’t strike me as being Spanish at all. The actor looked American. He also sounded American. I was quite disappointed with Miguel and he is probably the only character in the movie that I just flat out couldn’t stand. He shouldn’t have been there. He didn’t even resemble the video game version at all. It was just really pointless to even have him in the movie. His fight scene wasn’t even impressive.
My favourite actor in the movie was undoubtedly Luke Goss, the actor who played Steve Fox. For some odd reason Steve is much older than he should be and is a retired fighter in the movie, and Luke Goss looks and sounds NOTHING like Steve should. Despite this, I still really liked him. Sure he wasn’t like Steve at all, but overall he was probably the most convincing actor in the movie and the quality of the movie’s acting seemed to leap up a bit each time he appeared on the screen. Luke Goss was definitely the best actor in the movie, being slightly better than Tamlyn Tomita.
The choreography for the fight scenes wasn’t too bad. Some of the fights were a little silly looking, but a few of them were pretty decent. Eddy and Raven fight early on, and I quite liked the film’s take on Eddy’s Capoeira style. I saw a few signature moves from the Tekken games throughout the movie as well, and they were blended into the fights in such a way that I didn’t even really notice most of them. Bryan nailing a character with his fist and watching them fly back several feet was immediately recognizable, even though I never learned the name of the move ingame. Christie didn’t seem to have any sort of defined fighting style in the movie, which was a little lame. She appeared to be a brawler mostly, but her moves and performance were somewhat convincing for an actress in a movie of this sort.
In terms of visual effects, it really looks like they tried with this movie and I assume that they actually had a decent budget for it. The facility where the tournament takes place looks pretty decent, and the special effects used to showcase the “stages” that the fighters are going to duke it out in are pretty neat. “The Anvil” is a very slummy city district that the first twenty minutes or so the movie take place in, and I found the slums to look quite good. There was a lot of detail put into The Anvil that made it feel genuinely realistic. It reminded me a lot of the cordoned off “humans only” areas in Surrogates, or the ruined city locations in Independence Day. There wasn’t anything too cheesy with the sets or special effects, and I think that they did a good job with what they had.
My honest opinion is that this is a cheesy action flick that is pretty average in many ways, but it’s not at all what I would call a bad movie. Just don’t be a Tekken fan with high expectations and this movie should be at least somewhat entertaining.
Overall, the movie is barely even coherent and the story is the furthest thing from the games that you could possibly imagine. Far too many things were changed from the games for this to be a good film representation of Tekken, but do you know what? As long as you don’t go into the movie as a sour Tekken fan with ridiculous expectations, you should have a little fun.
I’m going to be generous with this movie, since it just seemed like good fun, and give it a rating of B. That’s probably about 7/10 or so, which isn’t too bad. As a fan of Tekken, I certainly enjoyed it. As long as you don’t take the movie seriously, I think everybody else will too.