DVD Review: Tekken

Directed By Dwight Little
Starring Jon Foo, Kelly Overton, Luke Goss, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Gary Daniels



Making a decent movie out of a fighting game shouldn’t really be a tough prospect. In adapting a video game that’s all about people beating the snot out of progressively tougher opponents in arena showdowns, all a studio really needs to do is just remake Bloodsport or Kickboxer. Keep the plot lean, hire a fight choreographer who knows how to put together inventive martial arts set-pieces and – most importantly – take a leaf out out the X-Men movie’s book and don’t be afraid to ditch characters, costumes or elements that won’t translate to screen, lest the whole thing look like a recording of a crowded third-rate cosplay convention. Et voila: a perfectly serviceable, potentially fun video game movie.

Works in theory. Instead we get movies that are either enjoyably terrible (Street Fighter: The Movie) or just plain terrible (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li). Tekken doesn’t exactly have much worthy competition, but still surprisingly manages to be a solid, entertaining game-to-movie translation and ducks and weaves from many problems that other video game adaptations collide with.
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In a future urban dystopia, the corporations rule over society, headed by Heichachi Mishima (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and his sinister Tekken organisation. Jin Kazama (Jon Foo) is eking out a living as an illegal courier in run-down city slums, parkouring his way through gang territory with shady contraband to earn cash to support his mother. When Tekken’s private enforcers stage an assault on the slums and murder Jin’s mother, the fiery young slugger takes his fight to the Iron Fist tournament – an annual showdown hosted by Tekken between the world’s best fighters – in hopes of killing Mishima and getting revenge.

Writer Alan B. McElroy commendably doesn’t tie himself too rigidly to the forgettably slight and nonsensical plot of the games and resists the common urge to cram every character from the series in as fanservice. Instead, the word “Tekken” is uttered at a dizzying rate of 57 times per minute, presumably as a reminder to the audience lest we forget for a moment that we’re watching a Tekken movie. By the 30 minute mark every third word is “Tekken”. By the third act, the actors have fashioned their own language entirely out of the word “Tekken”, delivering it with different tones and inflections, much like prehistoric cavemen who spoke exclusively in grunts.
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Naturally there’s unintentional laughs to be found and clichés aplenty, while the film never strives to be much more than a serviceable action flick, but Tekken gets a surprising amount right, too. The cast is refreshingly likeable, with Jon Foo, Luke Goss and Kelly Overton bringing more chemistry and presence than expected. Skilled martial artist/freerunner Cyril Raffaelli (District 13) put together the fight choreography, which is pretty great. It’s just unfortunate that said fights are all too often obscured under jittery music video editing and hyperactive camerawork as director Dwight Little forgets to let the action breathe, or at least be visible (strange considering he was at the helm of ’90s actioners Marked For Death and Rapid Fire, which showcased excellent, well-shot fight work).

Chalk it up to low expectations, but against the odds, Tekken is a solid, fun video game adaptation. It boasts a likeable cast and energetic direction, but that energy is often misdirected, resulting in some unnecessarily tight and overactive camerawork during fight scenes. Still, while it won’t set the world ablaze, Tekken is an enjoyable little action movie and one of the better game-to-movies, even if that’s not exactly a difficult achievement considering the competition.
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The disc is light on special features, packing only a trailer, a handful of interviews and a chunk of B-Roll footage.

The interviews are a short selection of soundbites from the entire secondary cast, but no Foo, Goss or Overton. The behind-the-scenes B-Roll footage is a little more interesting, showing some of the fight work being put together by Cyril Raffaelli as the cast rehearse, but there’s nothing that’ll bowl anyone over. The film does receive a clear, attractive A/V treatment, though, even if the extras are nothing to rejoice over.

The Film:

The DVD:




Tekken is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK from 2nd May 2011.
Click here to order it from Amazon.co.uk.