I recently watched the yet to be released cinematic adaptation of my favourite video game franchise, Tekken, starring Jon Foo, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Ian Anthony Dale as Jin Kazama, Heihachi Mishima and Kazuya Mishima respectively.
First Thing’s First
Let me start by saying that I’m extremely impressed with the accuracy of the costumes and the fight scenes were really exciting. The fight between Jin and Brian Fury was pretty kick ass and Yoshimitsu’s armour was like something straight out of the games. Only criticism I have regarding those two aspects is that the flame on Jin’s trousers were blue not red (seems picky but it’s his signature freaking costume) and too many weapons were used leaving some scenes feeling more like Soul Caliber.
Now for the main points of the film: casting, acting and plot. The cast were rather capable of pulling off the roles that were written for them; however, the characters are not at all like their original counterparts. For starters, all the back stories were totally wrong. Eddie and Christie didn’t know each other even though she is his student in the games, Kazuya was made out to be power hungry and more evil than Heihachi and other characters were little more then Cannon Fodder.
For those of you that don’t know, the original plot for the first Tekken game is this:
“A worldwide martial arts tournament is nearing its final, with a large purse of prize money to the fighter who can defeat Heihachi Mishima in the final round of the competition. The contest is sponsored by the giant financial group, the Mishima Zaibatsu. There are eight fighters that remain after winning death matches all over the world. The winner of the tournament will receive The King of the Iron Fist title. Only one will have a chance at defeating Heihachi and taking home the prize money and fame.
Kazuya Mishima is the main character. Heihachi’s biological son, he was thrown into a ravine by his tyrannical father when he was five years old. Heihachi, believing his son was too weak to ever inherit his conglomerate, decided that if he were truly strong enough, he would be able to survive the fall and climb back up. Kazuya barely survived the fall that left him with the scar prominently visible on his chest. Fueled by hatred for his father, he enters the tournament to exact his revenge. “
“Set in the distant year of 2039, war has ravaged much of the planet. Corporations have moved in where governments once stood. Brutal, physical combat is the primary form of entertainment and source of income for many. For some, though it’s about the glory. It’s about becoming a legend amongst men. For the champions, the grand ball is the Tekken company sponsored Iron Fist Tournament, where the greatest fighters throughout the world come to compete, bringing everything they can muster (skills, magic) (There is no magic lol), weapons, etc.) to become the undisputed champion of the world and a lifetime’s worth of fame and wealth.
The film follows Jin Kazama in his attempts to enter the Iron Fist Tournament in order to avenge the loss of his mother, Jun Kazama, by confronting his father, Kazuya Mishima and his grandfather, Heihachi Mishima, the latter of whom he thought was responsible for her death.”
See the huge difference? Now I understand that it is based on the story of Tekken 3, but it doesn’t even follow the plot for that game either. It’s as though they mixed random parts of the plot for the entire series just in case they don’t make a sequel….which I highly doubt will happen. [Like most movie adaptations,] they screwed the story up but they also had a severe lack of characters that were CONFIRMED to be in the film. My favourite character throughout the series is Hwoarang. His rivalry with Jin is a strong plot point for both characters in the series and could have made for some nice onscreen chemistry. Now as to why Hwoarang was left out of the film but Sergei BLOODY Dragunov is included (and barely used) I will have no idea. Other characters that have played a big part in the games that were left out and would’ve been great onscreen are Jack (The Tekken security are called Jackhammers but they aren’t giant robots), King, Lei, Lee and Paul Phoenix. No sign of the Devil Gene either, just a little bit of anger management issues. But I digress. The worst thing is the oversexed nature of the film. A couple of sex scenes and club scenes ruined the feel of the film as Tekken should be a revenge story with a nice touch of comedy with some characters.
BUT, in terms of being a watchable film it isn’t too shabby. As I said, the cast are pretty good and the fights keep you entertained. The plot isn’t terrible although the dialogue isn’t great, but it’s a very watchable film and definitely a better live action adaptation of a Beat-em up than the likes of either of the Street Fighter movies, DOA or any of the Mortal Kombats (I only compared it to those as Beat-em ups are harder to adapt than a film like Tomb Raider, because as a writer you have to fill in some elements of plot yourself and come up with interesting pair ups for fights.)
If you’re a fan of the games, it’s worth a watch. But don’t expect a faithful adaptation. If you want that, watch the animated movie which is a spot on Tekken movie. If you don’t know the games but like bloody martial arts movies, then it’s definitely your kind of film.
In short: A watchable, by the numbers, martial arts film that succeeds previous video game adaptations by far.
M-X Rating: I give it a 7 on the Zippy Scale.