Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li is a terrible film. And no one was expecting much from a Street Fighter film. I don’t know how the film got so bad. So many things were done wrong. The bad part is I know what kind of film they were trying to do, what kind of hero they were trying to make Chun Li, and what they were trying to do with the cops. They managed to fail on all fronts, which takes an exceptional amount of fail. The one thing this did accomplish was to make all other versions of Street Fighter look so much better. Future Cops should now get an Oscar, Street Fighter with Raul Julia should be on AFI’s top 100 films of all time list.
The best part of the film is Chris Klein, who knows exactly what kind of film this was and delivered exactly the kind of performance it needed. Too bad everyone else involved was completely oblivious. Chun Li narrates most of the film, but half of the time Krinstin Kreuk sounds like she is half smirking while reading, even the more serious stuff. It is odd.
The original Street Fighter film is a tour de force of awesomeness. We got Jean-Claude Van Damme kicking butt while Raul Julia is far to awesome to be in such a film and knows it, owning the role like no one ever will again. Originally, people thought this was to be a direct sequel, but they failed to understand prequel rage. Studios are prequel crazy, giving prequels to everything that ever existed. This is combined with remake rage, the other thing the studios are doing to ensure original ideas never make it to the local theater. Thus, we get a prequel remake that starts its own continuity, sort of like Star Trek except there is no Old Guile.
I don’t give a frak about the video game plot, because plots for tournament fighting video games are paper thin to begin with. But I think there is one and I doubt this followed it.
Chun Li starts out explaining her life and how her dad was some important businessman who moved a lot and wanted her to become a piano player. Then he also taught her wushu so they bonded more, until he was taken by Balrog and Bison. Balrog also hits Chun Li’s mom. It must have been a hard punch because the next time we see mom she is dying of cancer. How come that isn’t in the video game? As a side note, Chun Li is hapa except when played by the very youngest actress who doesn’t look very hapa.
Adult Chun Li is a pianist and also a girl who gets mad at everyone in Hong Kong as crime happens and no one does anything except Chun Li making enraged faces. Kristin Kreuk spends the entire film barely suppressing rage in every onscreen appearance. Did she harness her rage that she was making a bad film to be used as acting, because that would be efficient. Chun Li gets a mysterious scroll in the mail that I don’t think they ever explain who sent it, though it was probably Gen.
Meanwhile, Bison is totally even more evil now that he has a goatee and is a businessman, and has his dude Vega chop off the heads of the heads of the major crime families in Bangkok, showing that Bison is now in charge. Bangkok has a pretty multi-ethnic criminal underworld, like every country in the world has mob there, or at least did until Bison killed them. Bison also has Chun Li’s dad still alive living in the basement doing evil stuff in exchange for seeing photos of his daughter. Bangkok cop Maya and Interpol Studmuffin Charlie Nash are the team investigating the case. Nash is too cool for school while Maya is one of those bad girl tough chicks who ride a motorcycle and are cops despite being supermodels.
Chun Li goes to see Cheng Pei-Pei about the scroll, and the star of Come Drink With Me and Naked Weapon tells her she must go see Gen. This dude with a spider tattoo she saw right outside Cheng Pei-Pei’s shop yet Chun Li must go see him in Bangkok for some reason instead of going right back outside to go all “Whassup, Spiderman?”
So Chun Li goes to Bangkok to become a homeless person, because that is how you meet Gen. Seriously. Gen lets her be homeless for a while so Chun Li can see more crime happen and do nothing about it except make enraged faces. Finally, she gets off her lazy butt and beats up some criminals who are stereotypical Hollywood street gang toughs that are somehow the Bangkok street gangs. But then she also collapses after the overly choreographed butt-kicking and is then picked up by a mysterious figure, who happens to be Gen and not a crazy street rapist, so good news for Chun Li on that one.
Gen will teach her the art of making magic fireballs with kung fu and stuff, even though she doesn’t really do much with that later. She then goes to an internet cafe to Google about Bison. Bison is busy kidnapping the kids of the city planners of Bangkok, who instead of calling the cops agree to his plans to rezone the slums of the city. Let’s ignore how in real life any rezoning would be tied up in court for decades and just watch as Bison sends in armed guards to kick every poor person out in 24 hours. Yes, the movie is ripping off Robocop 3 here, people!
The police do some thinking until Charlie Nash is the only one smart enough to figure out that Bison’s headquarters is the giant building right across the street with the company name in giant letters written on it. That’s why they pay Charlie Nash the big bucks. Instead of doing anything, the cops just wait outside and watch to follow Balrog. They somehow miss Balrog getting in one car, getting out, and getting into a second car, so they follow the decoy first car. They missed it because they were kissing.
Chun Li doesn’t miss the switcheroo, because she wasn’t making out with a cast member from American Pie (suck it, Jason Biggs!) Chun Li follows Balrog, who meets with city planner to clear a dock for the White Rose, Chun Li overhears on escalator, no reason given why Balrog doesn’t notice her as he has had plenty of experience following her and knowing what she looks like.
Bison’s secretary Catana is celebrating the expulsion of the poor and her role in getting the city planners to sign papers by hitting the clubs. Chun Li is there, and after giving her rage face for a few seconds, she comes out in a blue dress that makes her look like a flower and dances around in the lesbian dance of seduction. This causes Catana’s ice heart to melt with lust, and although Chun Li gives her the rejection look on the dance floor, she follows it up with a “come hither” inviting Catana to the women’s rest room. But, a lesbian sex sequence is not in the cards, as soon the two women are beating the frak out of each other as Chun Li wants to know about the White Rose. Catana spills the beans, her bodyguards start shooting their guns, and Nash and Maya who were outside the club doing nothing come running in and get in the middle of the gunfight, even yelling at Chun Li, who runs away and gives some money to a poor mom.
Gen used to work with Bison, and tells us his origin. Bison is the son of Irish missionaries in Bangkok whose parents died and he was also left for dead. But he didn’t die and became a street tough, stealing food. This naturally got him a hot white girl for a wife in Bangkok, who he took to some magical caves while she was pregnant and transferred the goodness in his soul to his unborn daughter. Doing so required him to rip the daughter out of mom, thus the wife is dead and Bison is soulless. This daughter is White Rose, who will be the MacGuffin for the last half of the movie, but it is just some random girl and not Maya like I thought it would be. Gen then tells Chun Li to go get some groceries, and while he is out Balrog sends in a bunch of ninjas to fight. Only the ninjas get beat up and Balrog fires a rocket into the apartment, blowing it up and seemingly killing Gen. Keep in mind the seemingly, because no body=not dead.
Bison sends Vega after Chun Li, and he’s like Wolverine meets Casey Jones meets some idiot and Chun Li beats the frak out of him and leaves him hanging by his legs. That’s the end of Vega. Chun Li goes to the harbor to find out what boat the White Rose is coming in on. She threatens the dockmaster, who tells her, but when she goes that night it is a trap. She is captured and take back to Bison’s Shadaloo HQ, where he brings in her dad for a tearful reunion and an even more tearful goodbye as Bison snaps dad’s neck right in front of Chun Li. Then Bison leaves, to let Balroq kill her. Then Balrog leaves, to let two random guys kill her. They hang her up by her legs, which just lets her escape by Chun Li magic stuff and she kills them and jumps out the window. Balrog and men hunt her down, but she gets shot in the arm stopping some kid from getting killed in the crossfire. This angers the locals so much Balrog and the goons are pelted with food (the mom Chun Li gave money to is seen here) and they leave.
At some point the cops were all taken off the case because Bison bribed the cops’ bosses. So Charlie Nash is all alone.
Chun Li is rescued by the not-dead Gen who is not dead. Chun Li then goes to tell Nash she needs backup to find the white rose. how she knew who the hell Nash was is never explained, she only saw him once and he wasn’t named, while he also knows who she is thanks to his advanced Google skills despite not knowing her name, either. Chun Li goes to the very same dockmaster who set her up before to demand the new time, which he gives. Charlie Nash is going to do the sting by himself, but then Detective Maya Sunee and a bunch of other cops show up, all of which grew up in the poor neighborhood and don’t want to see it leveled and replaced with stripmalls with the Gap. The cops set up a sting operation, but the dockmaster station has a bomb in it that Nash finds thankfully just in time for everyone to run out of the building before it explodes. Then there is a big firefight where both sides are dudes dressed in black and only Charlie Nash yelling “NASH OUT!” all the time lets us tell them apart. Chun Li and Gen are running around on the boat where they figure out White Rose is a girl. Like the girl Chun Li saw and the audience already figured out, so they double back to get her. Gen and Balrog fight where he is stabbed by liquid nitrogen pipe, which probably kills him, but this is Balrog we are talking out here.
Bison takes his daughter and takes her back to his place in a guarded room. Later, Gen and Bison fight at his place, but Bison is too awesome and Gen is getting beat up, until Bison realizes his daughter is getting kidnapped during all of this. Yep, Charlie Nash is a daughter-stealer, and when Bison gets back to her room she is gone, baby, gone. Gen goes back and more fighting with Bison, where Gen loses again because Gen is a loser and not truly outrageous. Chun Li then shows up to fight Bison, where they fight and fight and fight some more, and then fight. She finally uses one of those energy blasts and zaps him, knocking him down on some scaffolding, then she does some crazy jump and breaks his neck by twisting his head 180 degrees, killing him in front of his own daughter. Sort of how her dad was killed in front of her by him. Yes, the circle of death continues, and Chun Li became the villain! Like Kill Bill. Except we know that White Rose is supposed to be all good, so she won’t go on a vengeance quest against Chun Li…will she?
Of course not, this ain’t getting a sequel!
Chun Li goes home to her Hong Kong house, never explaining why her family speaks Mandarin instead of Cantonese, until Gen shows up one day with an ad for a Street Fighter competition and mentions a dude named Ryu, who is totally from the game. He also implies that Bison is still alive, although how he would know this from a flyer is anyone’s guess. Chun Li says she is too busy being home to go off adventuring, but if this had gotten a sequel she wouldn’t be. It won’t, so she is. Until they reboot it again in 2026.
Rated 2/10 (Spinning Bird, Bull is an appropriate image for this film…)
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