TBT – Tekken (2009)

films, reviews, TBT


I’m not much of a gamer these days because I don’t have the time. I thought about jumping on the Animal Crossing bandwagon but I haven’t picked up my Switch since my birthday. It’s not worth spending the money for a few minutes use. Maybe when it’s cheaper. Back in the day, I spent most of my spare time playing video games. I’m not one of those gamers who likes MMOs but I enjoyed the classics. I recently started playing San Andreas again for the first time since I was a kid and it’s amazing. Yeah, the graphics are a bit dodgy by today’s standards but you can’t fault it as a whole.  When we were kids, my sister and I used to be obsessed with the Tekken franchise. Mostly Tekken 3 on our Playstation. God, we played that game loads. My absolute favourite character was Julia Chang. She did this triple kick that was amazing. But that’s really beside the point. The point is, I’d never seen the Tekken film until this week. I just didn’t want to risk. We all know how terrible films based on video games can be.

There is a lot of potential within Tekken for a great film. You just need to be careful what you do with it. The people who made this film weren’t careful. Yes, the fighting is kind of cool, which I guess is the least that you’d be hoping for. But the narrative is all over the place. It doesn’t do a good enough job of introducing us to the society and it never really gives us the chance to care about any of the characters. Jin’s mother dies after being on screen for about a minute and it’s not as if we care enough about him to feel sympathetic. We also don’t have enough reason to really hate the Tekken Corporation. Yeah, they seem a bit dodgy but we don’t know anything about them.

The film has the most fun in trying to recreate the game itself. The tournament fights do feel reminiscent of the classic gameplay but I feel like they could have played it up even more. There are plenty of vocal moments in the game that could have been replicated. Plenty of visual moments that could be repeated. If you really wanted to make something for fans then you could have gone further. It feels as though they were just assuming that gamers would be happy to see people they slightly recognise fighting. And, to be honest, the fighting is pretty good. It’s just that there’s not nearly enough of it. Too much time is taken up on a story that nobody really seems that bothered about either.

This is the kind of film that gives video game adaptations their bad reputation. It’s dull but it’s not even so bad that it’s good. It takes itself far too seriously so it doesn’t even get a pass for being goofy. It doesn’t really work on any level. It doesn’t embrace the game enough to warrant the adaptation and it doesn’t excite as an action film. And considering it was inspired by a series of games with a fucking fighting Panda then it feels like there were plenty of miss opportunities. This is a film that clearly thought it would be super easy to make something people would enjoy. The problem is, there is no part of this film that excels. The script is terrible, there’s a weird sexy vibe to it, the bad guys aren’t developed, the good guys aren’t developed, the actors clearly aren’t trying, and the world-building is abysmal. It just made me a bit sad and I felt like I needed to go back and play Tekken to clear my mind of this mess.

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