Aug 17, 2010


Based on the hit Playstation series of the same name, Tekken is a wild attempt at bringing a video game classic to the medium of film with partial success. Taking the babbling insecurity of the Japanese and adapting it to a tale most appreciated by the West is an achievement in itself. Like Speed Racer before it, the idea is taken out of context and reshaped by its copyright holders into something best fit for a motion picture and similarly to that of Speed Racer, the climax is composed of vignettes including flashbacks and inordinate scenes of inspiring power surges through anger and rage, which condone the use of frustration to achieve anything you wish. Cinema separate from the source material, Tekken is a labor of love towards the characters and approaches the fickle topic of costume design quite seriously, staying true to the video game which is more than most can say about their tripe products of capitalist consummation.

Gifted by the power of creative ideals and an adoration (must be) of Escape from New York and Blade Runner, Alan B. McElroy wrote the screenplay for Tekken and also brought us both the stories of retro-revival love-it-or-hate-it Wrong Turn and Halloween 4 which stands as one of the best horror sequels. Taking a departure from the a-typical tournament teir film which was done with poor results in Mortal Kombat and DOA: Dead or Alive, Tekken charges head on into a dystopian landscape in which each continent is owned by a single mega-corporation and provides fighters in a worldwide tournament known as Iron Fist. Jin Kazawa makes his small living acting as a runner for stolen goods; items to be used against the post-dictatorship of Tekken. Several propaganda style posters emblazoned with Heihachi's face litter the post-apocalyptic streets. Remarkably, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa still makes a living playing the same villainous character (Shang-Tsung and Heihachi) and doesn't seem to be slowing down.

The storyline of Tekken is cleverly articulated and proves to be quite charming in the beginning as it goes as far as to provide growth upon children's fiction into a neo-realist nightmare of a populated purgatory provided by the government we put our trust in. Excluding the budget, the approach to Tekken is taken very sternly. As Jin returns to a trader with smuggled goods to be used in the uprising, he is given "real" currency which he uses to buy goods from a seedy Negro archetyped as a "drug dealer." Instead of offering crack cocaine or "purp," he sells Jin a little baggy of ground coffee in a nice stab at the future of what we could consider luxuries. After this, he decides to also purchase a bar of chocolate and an orange; gifts for his mother and girlfriend. This scene is very important in establishing the very bleak atmosphere and is later used as a crutch for the film once the tournament begins. Nice fight scenes aside, the dialogue is as balderdash as they could possibly get and I found myself groaning aloud during scenes of Jin and Christie. While being endearingly retarded, this romantic entanglement of fighters is best left to nerdy, sweaty fan-fiction.

Taking liberties with the past involvement of Kazuya and Jin's mother, the filmmakers take one more step towards dominant independence while suggesting the Jin's mother was a victim of rape, which tickles my fancy and imagination. Tekken suffers gruelingly from many problems but considering the status of the game and the lack of intellectuals who might play the game, it just seems impossible to enjoy something for what it is. While Internet trolls goad on and on about the pristine quality and enjoyment of Super Mario Bros. or the passe-indulgent Double Dragon, these critical gnats cannot enjoy something that dares to differ from a video game based on sexless Japanese musclemen who grapple and kick into the depths of forever. Tekken is a capital surprise. Presumptions are made but these defenseless expectations have a chance to be smashed right through if you can switch your cynicism off and enjoy a film that boasts wonderful albeit short martial arts action and a nice hopeless atmosphere for the outside inhabitants of this multiverse.

Tekken isn't an excellent film; it doesn't bring anything new to the table but reasonably associates particular interests of the demographic and embraces it. Based on a tournament fighting game whose roster of would-be champions includes bears, cyborg queers, baby dinosaurs, and Satan, I find the negative attitude based around this film to be compulsive and irrational. Given the fact that I might be able to find it within my ice cold interior to view this film again, it definitely deserves a view from anyone who has ever played the game. Tekken's ambition is also its downfall. The fight scenes are too short, too many subplots and character mentions are cemented into the film's lore but make no sense otherwise, Heihachi is crippled from sacrifices that had to be made based on his hair's eccentricity, and most importantly, it just isn't strong enough to exist alongside bonafide entertainment. That being said, I found Tekken to be a wholly enjoying experience and would recommend it to fans of the game. Also, Eddy Gordo is portrayed by "that Capoeira guy" from Tony Jaa's The Protector which acquires the film bonus points for stellar casting.



Scumbalina said...

FUCKKKKKKK!!!!! I want to see this. Like, NOW.

Sadako said...

Awesome review. It looks really weird but cool. Also I love the outfits the girls were wearing. Duno where I'd wear purple vinyl arm warmers and matching bra with leather straps but I'd make it work!

Shaft said...

"Based on a tournament fighting game whose roster of would-be champions includes bears, cyborg queers, baby dinosaurs, and Satan, I find the negative attitude based around this film to be compulsive and irrational."

Haha! Dead on!

Overall, I certainly didn't look as deep into it as yourself, but Tekken was indeed a very nice surprise, and I seriously hope the sequel, so strongly hinted at the end, will come to fruition.

As for my gripe, the only thing I thought was really unneeded was the "romance" between Christie and Jin, considering he already had a girlfriend on the outside. So they could've dropped that bit, and instead (if they indeed wanted to offer us some titillating scenes) give us some more of the Williams sisters.

Anonymous said...

adorei ver a ruivinha gostosa de branco do lado do japones lutador! Marcos Punch.