So I continue my trend of reviewing the most high brow, intelligent and insightful pieces of film making of the modern era with this musing on the futility of war and by proxy combat in the modern multinational corporation led world with it’s personal military’s and international fighting tournaments… What do you mean that’s not high brow? Microsoft hold bare knuckle fighting tournaments every year. Ok, so maybe Tekken isn’t a smart film. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad film… Does it?
What’s the plot of Tekken? Who gives a rat’s arse. Something about a future where all countries are run by giant corporations and there’s some tournament held for apparently no reason. Why the world needed to be all post world war 3 dystopian for this to happen I don’t know. Surely you could have just gone, Heihachi owns a big tv station and wants to put on a tournament, years later this one happens and we’d be in the same place. Jin (John Foo) is a young asian guy with a semi-British living in the US which is now run by the Japanese Tekken corporation. He lives in a section called the Anvil which is the usual slum land area of the city where people get killed and technology must be smuggled under cover of night. This is what Jin does. People shoot at him, his mother Jun get’s killed by Tekken Corps Stomtrooper lites and he enters the Iron Fist Tournament to get his revenge. Seriously, what i the post apocalyptic corporation nonsense for?
Anyway, enter the tournament he does along with the tutelage of Steve Fox (Luke Goss from Bros) and the support of a girlfriend in the anvil who I’m pretty sure doesn’t get named. Doesn’t matter cos despite her watching the tournament unfold he forgets all about her about 20 minutes in when he starts bumpin’ and grindin’ with fellow tournament entrant Christie (Kelly Overton). So a tournament goes on, people get eleminated and Jin get’s closer and closer to his desired revenge on HeiHachi (The hilarious looking in this Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), except it transpires that he’s not entirely bad and it’s his, younger and more capable of having a fight at the end of the film, son Kazuya Mishima who ordered the rocket strike on the home of Jin’s mother. I’ve spent 2 paragraphs on the plot and it’s already 1 and a half more than was needed to get this films plot started.
Now the film isn’t actually entirely bad. It’s plot may be, but the film itself is pretty entertaining. It’s shot in a decent enough manner. the set’s aren’t too varied but despite their small size they are suitably grimy and dark. There’s a lot of mileage taken from the Iron Fist Tournament stage which changes to show various themed designs based on the stages from the game. the fights are actually pretty good the whole way through. I nice mix of Hollywood flash and MMA style submissions and grapples. Honestly, I’d say they’re some of the best fights done for the US martial arts films of recent years. Not overly showy, not hacked to buggery by over zealous editing and you can actually see what’s happening. The latter fights maybe start to feel a bit samey but they’re well put together none-the-less.
Costume design is worthy of a little bit of a closer look. It’s an odd mix of realistic and cosplay. When you’re first introduced to Jin he’s dressed like a normal guy in regular clothes for the sort of slum like area he lives in. But then the Jack Hammer guards appear and their dressed like some sort of bizarre mix between riot cop an samurai. Heihachi actually wears a Gii to work and his son Kazuya is all evil cos he wears an expensive suit, see that informs us he lacks tradition when stood next to Heihachi. Clever huh? Once the Iron Fist Tournament is underway though it’s pure cosplay central. Every throw away character in there seems to be dressed exactly like their characters from the game. Jin even wears those trousers with the blue flame pattern on the leg and the odd red gloves with all the studs on them. And just wait until you see Yoshimitsu. Pure Power Rangers samurai costume I tells thee.
One interesting change from the games set up is in Bryan Fury (Woking, Surrey’s own Gary Daniels woooo!… I’m from Woking). In the game he’s an undead fighter. In the film he’s kind of been combined with Jack and is now a semi cyborg guy who’s won the last few Iron Fist Tournaments likely because of the metallic bones he has now. He’s the big bad guy Jin has to overcome in order to get to Kazuya and so i felt he needed to be more a product of the Tekken company’s tech than something a bit more supernatural. He’s a sort of cyborg in the games too but it’s because he was killed and the cybernetic parts are used to revive him. In this he’s just a cheat. Still, Gary Daniels plays a good heel and is still an impressive martial arts performer for films despite knocking on 50 now. The British Chuck Norris should have been more famous than he was. In fact let’s take a moment to relish in how awesome Gary Daniels is when he fights Jackie Chan whilst dubbed into German in The City Hunter!
The film isn’t too special effect heavy which is a relief if you’ve ever seen anything from the King of Fighters film. It didn’t need it anyhow so it’s a relief to see they used cgi purely where needed. Quite a number of Tekken game characters make an appearance although a few notable ones are missing, King and Lei Wulong being 2 that spring to mind. Perhaps these missing characters were being saved for a potential, yet likely straight to dvd, sequel. And to be honest I wouldn’t be against a sequel.
If taken on it’s own merits as a dumb martial arts film based on a game with a pretty wafer thin plot what you get is actually quite a lot of fun. It’s by no means great but it’s good enough to be the sort of film you may watch again when in the mood to see how stupid Heihachi looks in it. I really doubt a film based on Tekken could have been much better than this without deviating some way from the premise of the games. It did need deviation though, and they didn’t do that much, and so this is what we’ve got. It exists in the same area as the Mortal Kombat film in that it’s bad but not so bad that you’re gonna hate it. It’s not Street Fighter The Movie bad for example. I’d say if it’s on tv or cheap in the shops you could do a lot worse. You might even find it becomes a bit of a favorite for yourself. Even if that will be a bit of guilty pleasure.