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movie review

I've been hearing about this film for months, and I always like to support my favorite CW actors in their film projects, plus I just finished a year-long work-project-from-hell today with two very stressful presentations, so I wanted a break, and so I decided to go ahead and watch this.

Oh, not Watchman. (Someday, I'm sure). Instead I'm talking about the eagerly anticipated, extremely overhyped film that has all the fanboys talking: Kristin Kreuk's Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-li. And despite the fact that it's metacritic score was a whopping 17 (OUCH), I actually enjoyed it a lot, for what it was. More than I liked that Jared Padalecki horror thing, anyway. I definitely would have given it at *least* a 40/100. Maybe even 45!

So for the 4 or so KK fans on my f-list, here's a more detailed (and spoilery) review:

So obviously I went in with low expectations, considering that it was based on a video game and it had a metacritic score of 17. I think that helped me to be pleasantly surprised. The parts of the movie that center on KK are actually quite good, I thought. The basic premise is that Chun-Li's dad gets kidnapped by an evil crime lord when she's about 12. She grows up to be a famous concert pianist, and the crime lord (played with eyebrow-wagging, scenery chewing abandon by Neal McDonough--the teeth marks in every scene were much more prominent than those ever left by John Glover as Lionel Luthor, trust me) uses her safety as a means to get her dad to do his bidding. When she is an adult, after her mother's painful death from cancer, she gets recruited by a former badguy turned Shaolin master, Gen, who wants to train her in the ways of the spider so she can overcome the bad guys and save the downtrodden of the slums of Bangkok.

(Ok, it's not really ShaoLin, and Robin Shou is no David Carradine--he was definitely the weakest link of the cast, acting-wise--but just assume all those Kung Fu training cliches are present. And my David Carradine reference is dating me, I know, and showing my ignorance of the genre--I'm sure there must be a typecast Hong Kong actor who does all the martial arts master roles who I should know if I ever watched this genre, just like Michael Clarke Duncan was typecast the scary black man in this.I guess one *could* look at his role, which was to intimidate by his presence and beat the shit out of people, as another kind of scenery chewing villain, but it made me a lot more uncomfortable than McDonough's role )

The racial politics were...interesting, to say the least. I did like the fact that they actually had most of the cast speaking Chinese or Thai or Russian etc. with subtitles rather than all speaking English, and it was interesting that the main baddie was extremely white--but some of the scenes did make me cringe, like the table of Asian crime lords that seemed to capture every possible Asian stereotype I'd ever seen on film. It was nice to see KK actually playing an Asian character, though--she was biracial in the film, too, since her mom was white, but they actually had her speaking Chinese. They cast some excellent young actresses to play the young Chung-Li, too.

Some of the plot simply made no sense--there was this whole subplot with Chris Klein and Moon Bloodgood as an Interpol agent and a antigang taskforce-leading cop, respectively, but they never seemed to do any actual investigating; as far as I can tell they were mainly there to be exposition. (Pretty exposition, to be sure, but their plotline seemed very random to me). The most affecting parts of the story were Chun-Li's relationship with her dad, which really motivates her to set out for vengeance--especially a scene after she gets captured by Bison (McDonough's character's name) and gets to see him one last heartbreaking time.

Despite the nonsensicalness of some of the plot, though, the fight scenes were lots of fun, and a number of KK's scenes were quite effective. I didn't realize how much of the film she carried; I was expecting more of an ensemble cast than there was. The training scenes with Gen were kind of lame (especially given that he didn't really seem to teach her that much--certainly not to overcome her anger!), but I loved pretty much every other moment she was onscreen. She looked amazing (still way too skinny, but with enough muscle tone that you could at least vaguely believe she was winning those fights), and got to wear some stunning outfits, play a lot of haunting piano melodies and kick some ass. That was really more than enough for me. The fact that one of the ways she got info was seducing Bison's lesbian second-in-command was just icing on the cake. (Ok, I was a little annoyed at the "lesbian villain" stereotype, and I wish there had been actual kissing involved before they fought, but you can't have everything, I guess.)

All in all: if you like KK and manage your expectations in advance, definitely worth renting. I actually think, serenography, that this is a slightly better movie than "The Fog," if only because the action sequences are fun.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ciaan
Mar. 6th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. I shall add it to my Netflix queue.
norwich36
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
I wonder how long before it's actually out on DVD? (I'm kind of surprised it wasn't direct-to-DVD, honestly).
slinkling
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
Thoughts, in no particular order:

- Please tell me "Moon Bloodgood" is the name of a character, not an actor.

- To me, David Carradine = Killed Bill. I now have really interesting mental image of Bill training Lana.

- a slightly better movie than "The Fog" may win the all-time prize for faint praise. (Which, on a total tangent, reminds me of a time in college that a friend and I were trying to think of the least flattering way to describe a person without actually insulting them. Y'know, like when someone asks if somebody else is good-looking, and is told "well, he has a nice personality..." Except less flattering than that. I think we landed on "vertebrate" and "carbon-based." But I digress.) Now I really want to see this as the blurb on a movie poster.

I'm never going to watch this movie, but your review provided a good few minutes of entertainment. :-)
norwich36
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, Moon Bloodgood is the actor's actual name. Her IMDB page is here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1291227/

See, I am dating myself with the David Carradine reference, since to me he will always be associated with King Fu (the series).

I'm glad "a slightly better movie than the Fog" is amusing! Though since we actually did watch (portions of) the Fog at our fangirl slumber party in December just for the pretty that is TW, serenography has an actual reference point to go by. Actually, I think she suffered through the whole thing in the theater when it first came out.
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