What's the best way to present a beloved video game as a motion picture, aside from deciding not to actually make it? One approach is to stick close to the source material and try as hard as you can to make the film as much like the game experience as possible, like for example Doom, or House of the Dead, another approach is to take the established mythology of the game character and expand them into something worth shooting a whole movie around like, er… Super Mario Brothers, or 1994's Jean Claude Van Damme Crapfest "Street Fighter", the only reason they didn't title that film Street Fighter 2 was because they didn't want the prospective audience of functional illiterates and video arcade shut ins to think they missed the origin story. Yet another way is to simply name all of the characters in your peripherally related screenplay with a plot borrowed from 100,000 direct to DVD crime/revenge dramas after those in the video game then refuse to show the finished product to critics before dumping it onto an unsuspecting public.
See if you can guess which path Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li took.
So what we're left with is an origin story for Chun Li, an origin story that completely differs from the origin story and mythos already presented in 9 iterations of the actual Capcom video game. Wonderful! What's next? Well, next rather than set up some laddered tournament that puts Chun Li on the track of her nemesis, General M. Bison, she is instead sent into the Thai slums to fight against … er… urban renewal??
Just what the hell am I watching anyway (takes DVD from player and rereads the label).
The thing is, the approach described here is pretty much the exact same approach employed by the Jean Claude Van Damme Street Fighter movie, only in that one we focused on Guille as a UN blue beret rather than a US army guy. Bison had a cape. Vega was a flamenco dancer. Even Chun Li was Chinese, unlike in this film, which is about freaking Chun Li!
The awfulness doesn't just restrict itself to the presentation, or the idea behind the film, oh no. We've got myriad reasons to collect all of these disks and fire them into the heart of the Sun that exceed any paltry complaints about handling the story material like idiots, otherwise Street Fighter The Legend of Chun Li wouldn't be in the Hall of Shame.
We'll touch on all of the idiocies of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li as we move through the labyrinthine plot. We first meet Chun Li as the disembodied voice of Kristin Kreuk. If you're a fan of Smallville you'll immediately remember why the last couple of seasons have been so good as soon as Ms. Kreuk begins her narration, i.e. she isn't in the last two seasons of Smallville.
She is flat, boring, and while Kreuk has the gymnastic skills to pull off the copious amounts of wire fu, has no actual body mass to speak of, and can't deliver any of her lines with any measure of sincerity or believability. Her few scenes where she is meant to cry harkens back to the first episode of Arrested Development where Lindsay Bluth moans "I used to be able to do this," when Michael catches her trying, and failing, to produce tears on demand.
Anyway, she starts the film describing how her father always had big dreams for her and wanted her to become a concert pianist (which she will become later — and we'll get to later too) but he has times with some organization that she doesn't really grasp and therefore is dismayed at their constant moving and resettling. Once in Hong Kong, Chun Li learns that her father is a master of Wushu and begins to study this Chinese art in the yard with him. All great. Wushu is fun to watch, it's like really complex Kung Fu forms sometimes done in pairs, and sometimes with weapons. It's a really huge sports in China, huge like football and baseball and basketball combined. So she studies Wushu and doesn't know what her dad does for a living.
It's not long before we learn a little bit about what Dad does via the company he keeps. In this case it's the company Shadowloo run by hilariously miscast Neal McDonnough as M. Bison, his A#1 Henchman Balrog (Michael Clark Duncan), and a couple of punching bag henchmen. The fight sequence is pretty good actually with only a little head shaking idiocy that betrays the movie-fu as ultra stylized, i.e. Chun Li's dad shooting Champaign over a henchman's arm and his own, then starting himself on fire with it. To the film's credit, the fight sequences are all good and relatively entertaining, better still, they are shot by a team using a Steadycam so it's possible to see every missed punch, wire-fu-kick, or hilarious Jackie Chan spin into the ground like a drill without getting either motion sick, whiplash, or confused.
There, I've leveled my praise. That's all there is too.
Before M Bison leaves he says to Chun Li,"It's okay My Sweet, a gentleman will never harm a schoolgirl." Bison and his men take Chun Li's dad. Chun Li watches from the window as Dad is stuffed into the back of a limo and driven off. Mom, who has nearly no lines in the film and is American (or at least western) screams and yells but apparently doesn't call the cops. Chun Li pulls a necklace from her bed stand and flashes back to Dad, who only just left to apparently be killed, giving it to her probably that morning, and telling her that it's a spinning bird necklace and explains that the bird in the necklace lacks the strength to survive if it stays still but during times of adversity stays in motion. It's a metaphor, I guess, for why Dad and Mom moved little Chun Li around so much, or will be a metaphor for Chun Li's later exploits in Thailand, maybe it's an ad for the "little spinning bird necklace company". At this point in the film it's at least one of them. This flashback is filmed in helpful and stylish sepia tone so we know it's important to the plot.
Apparently, some 10 or 15 years passes by because the once very Chinese little Chun Li morphs into the Amerasian tween Chun Li, to the Smallville Chun Li who is now a concert pianist.
Girl triumphs over adversity.
Sure there was no real street fighting except for Dad losing to M. Bison's men, but I am okay with that — What's that? There's more? Why?
Chun Li finishes her piano recital to an audience of none — well to save costs they are offscreen — but back in the dressing room she's cajoled by another piano player that no one wanted to follow Chun Li at Julliard because she always got the flowers. Also, this mysterious ancient Chinese scroll written on leather was delivered for you, and how's your mom?
Chun Li's mom is not well, we will learn later that she has movie-cancer, in which she looks exactly the same as before only with a bandage wrapped around her head. Chun Li takes the scroll and with the death of Mom imminent, she goes off to find her destiny. Excellent. End movie! Girl triumphs over adversity following death of Mother. Great — What's that? More you say?
On the way home from the recital, Chun Li witnesses a gang of street thugs beating what appear to be a bum. She rushes over as the attackers leave, perhaps frightened away by her graham-cracker-like body mass. The man has a web tattooed on the web between his index finger and thumb. How very not coincidental! As I am sure you are aware, this man will feature prominently in the film later. However, one must wonder how it is he knew that Chun Li would be in that train station at just the minute that the gang would stop beating on him. Some would say, that's the magic of Street Fighter, others might say, that economic film making because of course he and she have to meet, and finally I would say, "what a lazy fucking script."
She shouts out, "is anyone going to help this man?" But alas, because the scene is a metaphor to establish her compassion, no one will. In fact we don't even learn whether or not she did anything else as the film cuts to the Hong Kong skyline. They must've bought a jumbo pack of Hong Kong skyline stock footage for this movie because we see it a lot, even when we are no longer in Hong Kong (which happens in about ten minutes).
Now though, we need to get Chun Li the hell out of Hong Kong so we can move what little of the plot we have here along. First, Mom needs to succumb to her movie-cancer, which happens mercifully off screen and offers us enough time to get M. Bison back into the picture and introduce some peripheral characters who will fill in the empty parts of the screenplay like cut-rate spackle.
Cut to Shadowloo HQ (Ha! I rhyme!) where M. Bison offers a toast to a collection of the Shadowloo board of directors, and like any corporate evil guy in movies these days, the board are all from different nations and represent the stereotypical criminal element from that locale. So we have a Yakuza guy, a Red Mafiya, a Columbian etc… Bison tells them that he is absorbing their partnerships and associated territories and if they don't like it they can leave. Why he would have a board of directors who specialized in crime is anyone's guess, but here they are, and none of them thought to bring a pistol — a fatal mistake for evil corporate dinner parties.
They throw down their napkins and storm out only to be slaughtered off screen by the Street Fighter character Vega (played by someone named Taboo from the band Black Eyed Peas).
Vega, for those of you scratching your head and trying to remember just which of the 8-bit fighters we're talking about here, was the flamenco dancer with the razor claw and Phantom of the Opera mask. Also, he had a fighting arena with a chain link fence in the background that he could use to get behind you without being kicked or punched. Here Vega fulfills the role of murderer for hire still in the same sort of mask with a razor claw hand, but no dialogue. He's sort of a mute Freddy Kruger.
Cut back to M. Bison eating at the now empty dinner table as the sound of his former partners being slaughtered floats in from off screen. Enter Balrog, who exactly like M. Bison, has not aged a day since we last saw him some 15 years ago when he was beating up Chun Li's dad. Michael Clark Duncan does the dubious duty of bringing Balrog to life here and honestly he looks like a wave of laughter will overtake him at virtually any second, almost as if he cannot believe the idiotic dialogue he has to say, when he has dialogue at all. Most of the time Balrog just stands behind M. Bison (who speechifies constantly) and tries not to laugh. In the Street Fighter Game, Balrog was the boxer based on Mike Tyson. Here, not so much.
Balrog brings news that Chun Li's wife has died of cancer and they have tentative plans to move into the new location. No one in the right mind will care about this. Bison stares menacingly out of the screen.
Careful listeners will notice that M. Bison sometimes has a hint of an Irish accent, and we'll learn later that both the screenwriter and the director believe that an accent is a genetic trait passed down from parents to child. But we'll get to that when we get to that. Now it's time to meet the other heroes of this film, and brace yourself, it's not pretty.
Meet Detective Nash, from Interpol. At least this film manages to make the obviously American law enforcement guy in a foreign country not an FBI man (as in every Steven Seagal movie that takes place in a foreign country). Nash is played by American Pie Guy, Chris Klein who, god help me, acts like Keanu Reeves channeling John Wayne via Chris Kattan. It's a baffling and fucking hilarious performance. I am pretty sure I read that he realized early on that the director has no idea what was going on and the scrip was crap so he and some of the others decided to have fun with the roles they were given. Well if that's the case he must've had a blast. He's teamed up with Detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood, or as I call her, Moon Actbad). She's the local detective in Thailand investigating the crime scene on the waterfront where the headless bodies, and associated heads, of all the ruling crime families are placed around a waterfront dining table. Maya has no idea who could be behind this and why, but Nash, because he's western already knows it's M. Bison's work. He's been chasing Bison for years but never had enough evidence to hang anything on him, but a room full of dead mob bosses might change things.
This is actually a common trope in crime films, especially international crime films. I have no idea why screenwriters think that if you cut the head off a criminal organization, the rest of the organization dies. I mean, the Yakuza rep in Bison's organization who gets his head cut off will have underlings who will simply pop into his place and continue business/strike vengeance on Bison.
In movies though, kill the boss and you win the whole organization's loyalty.
Back in Bison's villa in Thailand, now that he's the defacto boss of all bosses, we learn that he has Chun Li's dad still alive and employed as a computer analyst for him. Amazingly, Chin Li's dad's age shows only in that he has a few gray hairs. Nice. Bison wants the family information of all the city councilors in Bangkok. With the criminal element out of the way all he needs now is approval to start his nefarious plan. Bison gives Chun Li's dad a copy of her piano recital.
Back in Hong Kong, Chun Li fails to cry at her mother's graveside then decides that it's time to make a change. This revelation comes as she's looking at the scroll. She takes it into the heart of the city, bumps unknowingly into the same web-tattooed man from the subway who, again, magically knew exactly where Chun Li would be. A Chinese pharmacist translates the scroll and tells Chun Li to seek her destiny in Bangkok, that she'll need the strength, speed, and heart of a predator and that "Gen" can help her. And who is Gen?
Why, he's the guy with the webbed tattoo (like you didn't know that) who was once a feared criminal and now protects those he used to hurt. Sort of like antimatter Batman or something. Chin Li, then lays off all of her house servants, abandons all of her possessions, and goes to live like a bum in Bangkok. No seriously, that's what happens.
Gen for those of us who remember the game is the old sick guy who wants to die in battle and seeks out Ken to kill him. He has two styles in the game, if I remember correctly and was hard as a bastard to play well.
Back at Gangland Bangkok HQ, played in this film by a really big building that I tend to doubt would be a cop station, Nash is moving his men into the Gangland HQ much to the dismay of Moon Actbad. Nash replays the entire Bison plot for us in case we missed some of the film while trying to kill ourselves with TV remote controls, lamps, cushions, saturated fats, or whatever was at hand while viewing this. I know his summary helped me.
A little more stock footage of Hong Kong later and Chun Li is in Bangkok where she helpfully narrates exactly what we've already learned about her mission, to become one with the people of Bangkok, who, since Chun Li becomes a garbage eating bum, must all be garbage eating bums. Gee movie! Thanks!
Apparently Gen also has a field office and apartment in Bangkok too as he somehow is in Bangkok when Chun Li arrives. But he doesn't make himself known too quickly as it's fun to watch Kristin Kruek eat out of the trash.
The thing I don't get is that she goes to Bangkok to find Gen, but she already knows he is in Hong Kong so aside from the pharmacist telling her to go here, she should have stayed home.
Oh, and this middle millennium of movie is relentlessly narrated. Chun Li can't deal with the fact that the poor of Bangkok are preyed on by criminals. She infers that all of the crime in the city is the result of M. Bison's handiwork.
Speaking of him. Back in Bison World HQ, Balrog brings news that "The White Rose" is due in port from Russia. He also explains that they have lost "The Schoolgirl" and think she may be in Bangkok.
Cut to Chun Li thankfully taking an egg roll from a vendor. The point of this scene is completely unknown. Cut clumsily to a nondescript alley that night where a gang of four young thugs, none of whom appear to be Thai, jump and beat on a guy walking through the shadows. Chun Li, who was lounging behind a dumpster only 5 feet away, intervenes and beats the hell out of them all. The wire-fu isn't bad in this scene, again faint praise, but it's hard to imagine that she could do much damage to these guys considering she has all the mass of a box of Saltines. Logically though, how could she just have been there not knowing there was a gang at the corner before they struck? And why wait until the dude is laying fetal in the dark before showing yourself?
The fight so exhausts Chun Li that she too passes out after knocking everyone else cold. Gen appears and whisks her away.
Now, we're wasting way too much ink on this crap of a film, so let's speed things up. Gen offers to teach Chun Li so she can take on M. Bison. He reveals that Bison has her father as a prisoner. Gen gives her a walk through the slum and re-explains the Bison plot and reveals that he is sort of like Batman.
Gen, for what it's worth, is played by Robin Shou the same guy who played Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat movies, and he acts circles around Kristin Kreuk. Gen offers Chun Li a spot in his organization.
Training montage time. Chun Li gets her ass kicked for a while until she starts getting the better of Gen. This takes like 10 minutes. Gen demonstrates his awesome fireball/chi power implying that Chun Li can learn it too. The chi ball is played by CGI, naturally. Chun Li is not phased at all by Gen's magical ability to summon or create energy that can do physical damage to things. I know if it was me, I'd be begging to learn how to smash shit up with that kind of super power.
Chun Li then RENARRATES all the plot points we already knew as she researches Bison's company and subsidiaries.
Back at City Hall, Bison's lieutenant, Cantana (Josie Ho) is finalizing the paperwork with the city council for the slum neighborhoods now under the ownership of M. Bison. For some reason the company is now called "Esperanto Security".
Then, without so much as an iota of evidence, Nash determines from a single, second hand news report that Bison is using crime to drive down waterfront slum land value so he can buy it for a song through his shadow organization, Esperanto Security. Elementary my dear Moon Actbad! He then follows with "We have to move on this."
Really? Move on what? With what evidence? Did screenwriter Justin Marks ever watch an episode of Law and Order? Ever? There's no evidence tying Bison to any of this stuff, and if there is it's buried in reams of corporate lawyer-speak that no detective on loan from Interpol is going to crack using only his view from an upper floor window and complete inability to act at all.
Cut to Esperanto Security cordoning off the new real estate and demanding that everyone vacate by midnight. Yeah, this sort of thing happens all the time. Fortunately it gives us time to spend more time with M. Bison and learn about his background. See, Bison was from here. He was the son of Irish missionaries, who died, and he grew up in the slums there. Now he wants the slums under his control more for his malicious hatred of them. That of course requires replacing the slums with luxury housing complexes. Yeah, these sort of plans always work out.
Cut to Nash and Moon Actbad staking out the front of Bison's building. To avoid being seen by Balrog they kiss as he walks fro building to limo. Chun Li is always watching the place. Nash and Actbad give show chase. Balrog takes the commerce secretary out and explains that he has a package coming in through customs and it needs to be moved through without problems. The package is called "The White Rose".
So far this is all very standard direct to DVD crime movie plotting here, but once the identity of The White Rose is made clear to the audience you'll realize what an idiot Bison is and how stupid this part of his plan really is.
Listening in to this conversation, which takes place inexplicably on an escalator, is Chun Li.
Back at the Gen cave, we get more training.
Nash and Actbad are getting ready to follow Cantana around. Their banter is painful. Seems Bison's attaché is headed to a nightclub scene stolen in part from Kill Bill Volume 1. Cantana is a lesbian we learn (but don't care about) and that she is a bad judge of when it's a good time to let her bodyguards go off duty. She scopes out the chicks while Chun Li makes her way onto the dance floor, and because we apparently need Chun Li to lure Cantana away to be beaten up, she knows instinctively that Cantana is a lesbian.
What follows is the least sexually interesting most uncomfortable same sex dance sequence ever filmed.
Chun Li heads off to the bathroom. Cantana, unable to resist the charms of Chun Li, follows. This is also the only scene where we see Chun Li dressed similarly to how she looks in several iterations of the Street Fighter game. She wears a blue tunic and has her hair in Return of the Jedi Princess Leia braids.
The girls fight in the bathroom and for a change the music in the room appears to be that of the game itself. A nice touch for a lame fight scene. Cantana breaks out some information about The White Rose but her bodyguards break in before Chun Li gets anything specific or truly useful. She gets the same information from Cantan that she already overhead from Balrog. Chun Li tells her to give a message to Bison that "The schoolgirl is all grown up."
So much for having the element of surprise on your side there, Chun Li.
People rush out of the and Nash and Actbad rush in. Chun Li escapes after beating up all of Cantana's guards. She even murders one with his own gun. Nash spots her just before she leaves and vanishes across the roofs of the city.
During the fight with Cantana, Chun Li stole a dropped billfold. Now she hands over the cash to a homeless woman. A nice touch, I guess.
Cut to Bison killing Cantana with his fists. Bison realizes he should have brought in a professional earlier, how, no one knows, but it's time to call in Vega.
Nash and Actbad ruminate of who Chun Li might be and show a lame picture of her around town. The acting is even worse here than usual for these two. This is Godfrey Ho bad.
The poor folks won't say who Chun Li is and the cops assume that they are protecting her.
Back in the Genloft, Gen explains Bison's back story for us and how he and Bison were great friends. More sepia tones follow, like, for example, the obviously Thai baby that is supposed to be infant Bison crying in his orphanage crib.
Now, this part of the story is so idiotic, so monstrously stupid that I can't believe it was even written let alone filmed. But, hey, what are going to do. Seems Bison, in a bid for supreme evil power, took his new pregnant wife to the dark Panang Caves and passed all of his conscience and the goodness of his soul into his unborn daughter. She is, of course, The White Rose (which we'll have confirmed for us a few times in the next ten minutes).
Wait a minute. Why the hell is Bison going through all this trouble to smuggle in his own daughter from somewhere in Russia on a cargo ship? Last time I checked Thailand grants visas to Russian nationals, and, even better, airlines from all over Europe, including Russia. fly to Bangkok everyday! WTF stupid plan is this? Why even put yourself in a position to draw the curiosity of Nash and Actbad, let alone Chun Li! Just fly your daughter to Bangkok on a commercial jet and be done with it! Now I know what the "M" stands for in M. Bison's name. I stands for "Moron"!
I should be a fucking supervillain, I swear.
And now that we are almost at the end of this movie, one must also ask why they were following Chun Li around anyway. Did Bison really think that she was going to become a vigilante and come to kill him? And why bring The White Rose to Bangkok anyway?
Chun Li decides that now is the time to take down Bison and rescue her father, Gen agrees then inexplicably sends her out to get groceries. This whole scene reads like the writers were sitting around a table and discussing how to get themselves out of this scene in the most clumsy and stupid way ever. Gen actually asks, "how's the wrist?" as if we have any idea what the hell wrist injury he's asking about. Worse, even Chun Li seems baffled by this question — well, more baffled than she is by any of the other questions asked of her in this stupid movie.
She runs off for eggs.
Cut to a conveniently located parking garage with line of site to Gen's loft and Balrog and a gaggle of Bison's henchmen disembarking from a couple of cars. Balrog sends the men to kill Gen, then he calls for his RPG.
A gang of Esperanto Security guys sneak into Gen's apartment but Gen is waiting and kicks the shit out of them. Good fight scene. Balrog fires the RPG even though his men are in the apartment. Chun Li is at the door with groceries and gets blown backwards as the whole top of the building explodes.
She finds her bird necklace in the flaming rubble.
Cut to Bison giving the "kill Chun Li" order to Vega. Why he is even remotely concerned about her is anyone's guess.
Cut to Nash reading about Chun Li's father.
Cut back to the city where Chun Li is jumped in an alley by Vega. This is only the second time in the whole movie that we get a nod to the game. The first was the music in the bathroom with Cantana and now it's with Chun Li and Vega fighting. The nod to the game is the chain link fence prop that gets used during the fight. Old Street Fighter 2 players will remember that Vega could climb around on the chain link background in his home arena.
Vega, this time, is not Spanish, nor a flameco dancer, but a South American.
Chun Li makes surprisingly short work of Vega considering he's Bison's ace assassin.
The next day Chun Li visits the shipping office to find out where the boat carrying The White Rose will dock.
Cut to Nash back in the office where the police are moving out because they haven't managed to bring down Bison's operation. Actbad explains that because they are off the case the whole department is being shuttered.
Really? Fail to catch one dude and it's the end of the line?? You know, I've been watching Steven Seagal: Lawman and just last week they employed ten cops, five of them in SWAT gear, two big vans, three SUVs, machine guns, and a door smasher to take down a "house where known drug dealers live". After busting in and trashing the apartment they got a whole teaspoon of weed and $4 of crack. Will Jefferson Parish shutter the sheriff's office where portly Steven Seagal works because they spend the manpower equivalent of $50,000 to seize $10 worth of drugs and arrest a guy on one count of possession of marijuana?
No. Probably because everyone in law enforcement is pretty sure there are other gangs and bad guys who might have more than pocket change amount of dope on them.
So why the hell would the police shut their major case and gang unit for failing to get one gangster? There is more than one gang in Bangkok, I'm sure of it! I mean, all of the other people who mill around in the police room set are working on stuff that isn't the M. Bison case, right?
Well, clean out of your desk Actbad, because you're fired.
Cut back to the waterfront where Chun Li prowls around the boats at night. Before she finds anything useful, the guards find her and in what is the best action sequence of the whole film runs off until she's captured.
Cut to Chun Li tied up on a chair. Balrog brings Dad in to reunite with her. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with this scenario? Their father/daughter moment is awkward and annoying and way too long. However it gives Chun Li the opportunity to say "sometimes you have to stand up when… blah blah…"
Bison arrives and explains that Chun Li's dad isn't really worth anything anymore and breaks his neck in front of Chun Li. Yeah, those sort of acts never come back to haunt the villain, ever.
Bison leaves Chun Li to be killed by his inept guards. She promptly escapes. Balrog and his men give chase which makes for several scenes of stuff being overturned in a marketplace. Finally, their ire piqued by both Esperanto Security throwing them out of the slums, and Chun Li being one of them, the poor folks of Bangkok intervene and pelt Balrog and his men with fruit.
Chun Li takes a bullet in the arm for her trouble but escapes so that Gen can find her and fix her arm using Mr. Myagi's patented hand clap and rub surgery. We actually get to see Gen's CGI chi fix Chun Li's arm. There is never an explanation for how Gen survived the RPG strike and Chun Li doesn't bother asking.
Back to training now as the pair practice fondling their giant chi balls.
Chun Li returns to the same shipping agent who explains that "they made me do it" but he shows her the name of the actual boat carrying the actual White Rose.
Cut to the "Interpol Safe House" which is a big neat looking curved apartment building. Why Interpol would use this as a safe house is anyone's guess. It is also, apparently, where Nash lives as he is pouring himself a scotch after a hard day of learning that everyone he worked with is fired when in sneaks Chun Li.
Chun Li who has had no involvement or interactions with Nash at all in the movie so far, in fact, their storylines haven't even crossed peripherally so far. But, like in Smallville when she would drive all the way out to the Kent Farm to deliver two lines (sort of like Dominos Pizza only with more cheese and extra dangling participles), she's come to tell Nash where The White Rose is going to be.
Wait a cotton picking minute! How the fuck did she know that Nash was even a cop, let alone that he was looking for Bison, or that he would have any idea what The White Rose was or why it was important? She's seen Nash exactly once, for two seconds, when she was beating up people in the strip club after wailing on Cantana.
Maybe there's a scene out of place or something? Between this meeting and Gen not being dead I am beginning to think that Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li thinks I might be stupid, and I fucking hate that.
Chun Li asks for backup for her assault on Bison's boat. Cut to the shipping office where Nash and some of his police pals are setting up to seize the ship when Actbad and a bunch of her cops also show up. She explains that she and her friends all grew up in the slums that Esperanto Security now owns and don't want to see them destroyed by Bison. Yeah, and they are all in cop gear. So, she's like, using the cops as a mercenary army. Nice.
At least we're almost at the end of the movie and with this much stupid clumsy setup you know it's mostly got to be an action sequence. We get Nash and Actbad blown out of their command center as soon as Bison arrives (he immediately smells a trap and RPGs the building) while Gen and Chun Li infiltrate the freighter. Gen fights Balrog, who idiotically spills more beans about The White Rose before Gen kills him. Gen and Chun Li meet and he explains that The White Rose is Bison's daughter and she is his only weakness.
This makes no sense at all.
Bison has escaped with Rose (as she is now known) and returned to his underground volcano base. He explains, briefly, that he built this whole empire of crime for her and promises that nothing will ever happen to her.
That immediately brings word that Balrog hasn't reported in. Bison heads off to deal with an infiltration. Nash and Actbad and Chun Li and Gen invade the seemingly empty compound. I guess by now they'd spent all their money on extras because we don't see many anymore.
Gen finds Bison's personal office with his little model city just in time to be beaten on by Bison. Again though, the wire fu is better than average. We cut around a lot here as Nash and Chun Li explore the place while Bison heads off to protect Rose. Why he leaves Gen, not dead, on the floor of his office is anyone's guess. But, when he arrives at Rose's room Gen is already there.
I guess there was a time portal or wormhole or something. They fight until Gen gets injured and Chun Li takes over, she then fights Bison and kills him using, eventually, her chi ball of death.
Rose and Nash see the end just as she twists Bison's head nearly off.
Nash tells her he didn't see anything and that she should go. She thanks him by name, which is awesome as she never heard it uttered even once. Back at police headquarters, Actbad and the rest of the gang unit return to their old digs. Chun Li narrates the end of the movie in front of the graves of her parents. She is taking her place with Gen among the order of the web. Gen, for what it's worth, brings word of a tournament of fighters, blah blah setting up the sequel that will never, ever get made.
End movie, find kung fu master to teach Dim Mak death touch, then practice on self until dead.
There is so much fun material that can be mined from the myriad Street Fighter properties that to make a standard direct to DVD action flick is just a bafflingly bad way to handle this property. No one, and I mean no one, plays the Street Fighter games because of the drama of the back stories, but because of the cool fighting moves and the way it balances one video game fight style against another. Plus, chicks used to dig it when you ran all the other kids off a machine because you mastered Ryu's fireball and would scream "Woogan!" every time you sent another kid begging for quarters.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li isn't just bad on script levels, the scenes that aren't action scenes are stunningly boring and shot like TV episodes of Law and Order, only less dynamically. The score, when you notice it, contains a few snippets of Thai hip hop (in the club scene) and little else. If there was a even a stock score, I couldn't tell you what it sounded like or where it was used.
I am sure this will do well enough on cable and DVD that it'll produce a sequel, but I doubt we'll see any of the level of talent this time around. Chris Klein gets most of the reviewer's shit about how awful he is in this, but special mention has to go to Michael Clark Duncan for sheer awfulness. He's Forest Whittacker in Battlefield Earth bad in this and you can see him struggling to drown an incredulous grin every single time he has to speak. Neal McDonnough does okay even though he has the worst non-narrated lines in recent movie history even if he can't decide which accent fits his character and when to use it.
Screw this movie. Go rent the one with Van Damme, it sucks, but at least is has Kylie Minogue and Raul Julia in it.