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Tekken Movie Trailer: Should We Be Excited or Frightened?

February 13, 2010

Tekken Movie Trailer: Should We Be Excited or Frightened?
By Louis Bedigian

Start saving your quarters: another fighting game is coming to the big screen.

Oh, the world we live in. You can’t make a movie about Metal Gear Solid, which is packed with deep story elements, but you can make a film about Dead or Alive, Super Mario Bros., and The House of the Dead. Yeah, the latter flick came from a buffoon who has purchased every video-game license offered to him. Still – these are the video-game movies we are stuck with.

Now another has been unveiled, one that features the King of Iron Fist Tournament: Tekken. There has been talk of a Tekken flick for many years, but as we’ve learned with the proposed Halo and MGS films, talk is cheaper than production. Regardless of how unlikely it seemed that the movie would actually be made, Tekken found its way onto the big screen – and that means another excuse for us to put down our controllers and go buy some popcorn.

 
It took six games (and a Tag Tournament) for a Tekken film to be made.

Or maybe not. On the upside, this trailer is practically a burst of bone-breaking joy in that it doesn’t suck. The costumes are pleasantly familiar, the casting isn’t bad (visually, at least; I’m not too sure about the acting), and some of the attack moves mirror the game much more accurately than anything seen in the movies based on DoA, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. 

On the downside, there is a hint of cheese behind the dialogue, which includes lines like, “Winning Iron Fist means we win the world,” and “So you’re the people’s choice? You don’t look like much.” That last line was directed at Jin Kazama, the apparent star of the film. According to the trailer, Jin is fighting for revenge. The words, “Courage Fuels Him,” pop onto the screen, followed by, “Rage Drives Him.”

It’s typical Hollywood-style hype, but there are signs that the writers have at least attempted to go deeper than the Tekken games’ 60-second character-specific endings. In the trailer, there are several references to Jin’s deceased mother, including one voice-over: “I remember your mother. She put up quite a fight.” We don’t see the face of the man who said that, but it sounds like it could be Heihachi – the man Jin blames for his mother’s death.

Considering how short (and convoluted) the stories within the Tekken games have been, it’s safe to assume that the film will be a minor step up in that regard.

 
Tekken 6 reminded us of why we love the series. Can a movie do the same thing?

Adapting the Iron Fist

In addition to the many clips with Jin, the trailer reveals several glimpses of other Tekken favorites, including Nina, Raven, Law, Yoshimitsu and Eddy Gordo. Steve and Bryan are both confirmed for the film, and if you look closely you’ll swear they’re in the trailer, but it’s hard to say for sure. While Nina and Anna’s skin-tight attire is impossible to miss, some of the other characters are much less obvious. Then again, if the Internet Movie Database info is correct, Xiaoyu (played by none other than Kill Bill’s Chiaki Kuriyama) is supposed to be in the film as well. Her typically-flashy costumes would stand out in any trailer, so either the producers changed her attire for the movie or they decided to keep her image a secret. 

The Caveats of Combat

The combat looks good, but the use of weapons (chains and axes are visible in the trailer) is completely out of place. This isn’t SoulCalibur, nor is it Iron Phoenix or Mace: The Dark Age (how’s that for fighting game trivia?). This is Tekken, an all-out, man-vs.-man (or man-vs.-bear/creature/robot) fighting game with millions of fans all over the world. We don’t want absurd deviations from the series’ trademark fighting style; we want to see it emulated on the big screen in a way that no video game has ever done before.

Unpredictably, the film seems to be on track to achieving at least a degree of success in that area. The thing that worries me is that the trailer was reluctant to hold onto one camera angle for too long. This, like the cheesy words that appear on the screen, is very Hollywood. It may also be a sign that the fight scenes are filled with nothing but transitions that constantly move from one camera angle to the next. When used effectively, this kind of editing style can be beautiful – just look at 24, Taken, Saving Private Ryan and other great action flicks/TV series.

But none of those productions take place in the ring. When it comes to lengthy battles consisting of hand-to-hand combat, filmmakers are most successful when the camera is partially locked-on to each attack. You can cut in between each move – Kill Bill did this very well – to amplify the intensity of the scene. But if the camera changes in the middle of every attack, the whole thing is going to look cheap. It would feel like the director is trying to guide our eyes away from any martial arts mishaps.

 
Dead or Alive: good for gamers, bad for moviegoers.

History is Tekken’s Worst Enemy

If there’s one thing that could kill the Tekken film (outside of its own quality, which has yet to be determined), it’s the bad memories we all have from the existing slate of video-game flicks. Nobody wants to pay to see another Street Fighter. Nobody wants to sit through another Mortal Kombat II.

At this point, I feel like a character in a survival/horror game: I’m curious to know what’s around the corner but am terrified of what I might find.

In order to persevere, the producers need to release additional clips from Tekken that cut through our fears and turn us into eager moviegoers. Otherwise, the film might really be DoA - not Dead or Alive, dead on arrival.

Gw
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