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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

The 22-year-old popular videogame scores zero in this dreadful screen incarnation.


Based on the 1987 videogame sensation and later made into an anemic 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick, this latest version pits the forces of evil vs. good in the slums of modern day Bangkok but fails to capture any of the excitement that made Street Fighter a legend among gamers. In this edition, evil crime boss Bison (Neal McDonough) is joined by henchmen Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Vega (Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas) in taking over the Thai city, using extremely violent power. Out to stop him from adding to his growing collection of heads are a group of disparate warriors, including the half-Caucasian, half-Asian beauty Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk), who has given up her American life of privilege to help the oppressed. Joining her in the fight are her Kung Fu master Gen (Robin Shou), an Interpol cop Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) who has been tailing Bison around the world and his co-hort, homicide detective Maye Sunee (Moon Bloodgood).


While most martial arts films are hardly a showcase for actors, this film hits new lows. McDonough utters straight-faced lines such as, "when people are hungry there's nothing they won't do because everyone has a price," which apparently also means himself or why else would he take the role of such a wooden villain? The acting is so bad that even the Americans, including Duncan, Taboo and Klein, feel like they've been victims of a bad dubbing job. As the lead, the attractive Kreuk also proves to be a fierce martial arts artist, which at least partially makes up for the pedestrian dialogue and leaden narration she has to utter throughout.


The one thing Polish director Andrzej Bartkowiak has gotten right with Street Fighter is the kung fu of it all, but that's hardly enough to recommend slogging through the rest of this mess. As a renowned cinematographer (Terms of Endearment, The Verdict) Bartkowiak exhibits a sharp eye for color and detail, but the drab look of Street Fighter makes one wonder if as director he ever bothered to look through the lens at all. This is strictly paint-by-the-numbers filmmaking of the most unimaginative order. When Klein spots a flashing red button signaling an explosive device about to go off he yells, "Bomb! Everybody out!" He just as well could have been talking about this movie, too.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.