Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li – Unleashed and Unrated (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 1, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“For fans who were expecting a live action Chun-Li with her trademark blue outfit and showcasing her muscular thighs that she is known for, well… you’re not going to get that. But for a film loosely based on a video game, ‘Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li’ was an entertaining popcorn action-flick. Definitely not the greatest and definitely not the worst film adaption from a video game. For those who did enjoy the film, the High Definition transfer looks great and really sound awesome and is packed with hours of special features including a full-length ‘Street Fighter’ animated comic movie titled ‘Street Fighter Round One: Fight’.”
TITLE: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li – Unleashed and Unrated
DURATION: 1:36:34 (for the theatrical version), 1:37:22 (for the unrated version)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: The Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Unleashed & Unrated three-disc Blu-ray will be presented in widescreen format (2.35:1 aspect ratio) with English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio with English, French and Spanish subtitles.
COMPANY: Hyde Park Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox
RATED: PG-13 (Sequences of Violence and Martial Arts Action and Some Sensuality)
Release Date: June 30, 2009
Directed by Andzej Bartkowiak
Screenplay by Justin Marks
Executive PRoduced by Keiji Inafune, Toshi Tokumaru, Haruhiro Tsujimoto
Produced by Patrick Aiello, Ashok Amritraj
Co-Produced by Russell D. Markowitz
Music by Stephen Endelman
Director of Photography: Geoff Boyle
Edited by Derek Brechin, Niven Howie
Casting by Nutjaporn “Bow” Swasdiprom
Production Design by Michael Z. Hanan
Set Decoration by Zuanne Caplan Merwanji
Costume Design by Shirley Chan
Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li
Chris Klein as Charlie Nash
Neal McDonough as Bison
Robin Shou as Gen
Moon Bloodgood as Det. Maya Sunee
Josie Ho as Cantana
Taboo as Vega
Michael Clark Duncan as Balrog
Pei-pei Cheng as Zhilan
Edmund Chen as Xiang
Inez Yan as Chun-Li (5 years old)
Elizaveta Kiryukhina as Rose
Emilze Junqueira as Jeanne Xiang
Katherine Pemberton as Chun-Li (10 years old)
Brace yourself for the hard-hitting action and high-flying excitement of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. including an all new unrated cut! Based on the wildly popular Street Fighter video game series, this powerful martial arts adventure explores the origins of the Street Fighter universe through Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk), who avenges her father’s death at the hands of Bison (Neil McDonough) and his evil Shadaloo Empire. Now the stage is set, the challenge is clear, the legend will be forged…but who will prevail? Round One. Fight!
The Street Fighter franchise has been a wonderful video game series that captured our attention, most importantly with the release of CAPCOM’s “Street Fighter 2” in the early 1990’s when it was first released in the arcades. Since its release in 1991, there have been many “Street Fighter” related games that have been released in the arcades but also on the consoles with “Street Fighter IV” being released in 2009.
One of the iconic characters of “Street Fighter” has always been Chun Li. The Interpol agent who has been desperately looking for her father and uses the “Street Fighter” tournaments as a way to get closer to the crime syndicate known as Shadaloo run by M. Bison. (Balrog in Japan).
With a film released back in 1994 featuring on a large cast of characters which included Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile, Ming-Na as Chun-Li, Raul Julia as M. Bison and Kylie Minogue as Cammy but receiving a lot of criticism for its convoluted story and too many characters, the film remained on the list of a staple of films based on video games that were not that good.
In 2009, CAPCOM with Hyde Park Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox decided not to repeat that mistake and focus on their character Chun-Li.
“Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” was directed by Adrzej Bartkowiak (“Cradle 2 the Grave”, “Romeo Must Die” and cinematographer for many films which include “U.S. Marshalls”, “The Devil’s Advocate” and “Lethal Weapon 4”), a screenplay by Justin Marks (“Unbroken”, “The Stranger” and “Fast Forward”), music composed by Stephen Endelman (“Samurai Girl”, “The Net 2.0” and “Now and Again”) and cinematography by Geoff Boyle (“Mutant Chronicles” and “About a Girl”). Producing the film were Patrick Aiello (“The Other End of the Line”) and Hyde Park Entertainment Chairman and CEO Ashok Amritraj (“The Other End of the Line”, “Traitor”, “Virus” and “Double Impact” ).
The film would bring together a diverse cast with Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville”) as Chun-Li, Chris Klein (“American Pie”, “American Dad!” and “Election”) as Charlie Nash, Neal McDonough (“Desperate Housewives”, “Walking Tall” and “Traitor”) as Bison, Robin Shou (“Mortal Kombat”, “Death Race” and “DOA: Dead or Alive”) as Gen, Moon Bloodgood (“Day Break” and “Terminator Salvation) as Det. Maya Sunee aka to “Street Fighter IV” fans as “C. Viper”, the US debut of Hong Kong actress Josie Ho (“The Twins Effect”, “For Bad Boys Only” and “Purple Storm”) as Cantana, the US debut for Singapore actor Edmund Chen (“The Eye)” as Chun Li’s father Xiang, the Black Eyed Peas member Taboo as Vega and Michael Clark Duncan (“The Green Mile”, “Sin City” and “Daredevil”) as Balrog.
The film revolves around Chun-Li and her father Xiang (Edmund Chen). Very close father and daughter who was supportive of her daughter when it came to teaching her martial arts but also to play the piano.
When Chun-Li was ten-years-old, her father was taken by force from his home by Bison (Neil McDonough) and Balrog (Michael Clark Duncan). In the next decade, Chun-Li has never forgotten her father. She had become a concert pianist but also taking care of her mother with her ailing health. Believing her father to be dead, she doesn’t know that her father is being forced by Bison to work for him as a computer hacker/programmer as Bison plans to take over key areas of Bangkok, Thailand.
After a night of performing, Chun-Li receives a mysterious Chinese map. While arriving back at the airport in Hong Kong, she sees a man being beaten and notices a web-like tattoo on his hand. As she looks into the meaning of the map, she sees a man sweeping and has the web-like tattoo on his hand. When she has an antique professional look into the map, she tells Chun-Li that she has a mission and a person from a mysterious group that helps people will help her and that they are known for their web-like symbol. She is told that she needs to go to Bangkok to find what she is looking for.
Meanwhile, Interpol agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) is brought to Bangkok in his desire to find Bison who has managed to escape from authorities wherever he goes. He then partners with Bangkok detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood) and the both do their investigative work to find out where Bison and Shadaloo are hiding.
With the death of her mother, Chun-Li decides that she needs to find out the meaning of the map which may be related to her father. So, she goes to Bangkok in hopes that she will see the man. She lives in the streets, in the slums in order to distance herself from her previous life which had its share of luxuries but now trying to get by with what food she can and also to assist the people in the slums.
During an altercation with a group of thugs, she is helped by a man named Gen (the man with the web-like tattoo) who tells her that her father is alive and that Bison has him. He tells her that he once worked for Bison and that now he wants to help her but first, she will need to undergo training.
Meanwhile, Bison receives word that Chun-Li has gone missing from Hong Kong and that she may be in Bangkok. And so, he sends Balrog out to find her.
Chun-Li undergoes a lot of training from her now mentor Gen in order to hone her martial arts skills but unknown to her, Shadaloo has dispatched Vega (Taboo) to eliminate her and Bison has Balrog and his force of soldiers are sent to eliminate Gen.
Will Chun-Li be able to rescue her father? And will she be able to stop Bison and Shadaloo?
“Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li – Unleash and Unrated” comes with both the theatrical and unrated version of the film. The unrated version has less than a minute worth of footage and focuses on a violent and bloody scene involving Bison.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” is featured in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and AVC@28MBPS. For the most part, the film receives an awesome transfer on Blu-ray. Outdoor scenes of Bangkok are vibrant and a lot of detail can be seen with the characters and their surroundings. Flesh tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep and I spotted no sign of compression artifacts. The picture quality is quite solid!
As for the audio, the film is presented in 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio and action scenes sound great as you can hear the sounds panning from your left surround to your right. LFE is utilized quite well throughout the film and you can expect your subwoofer(s) to be utilized while watching this film. From the bass of the music, the booms of the thunderstorms and the many gunshots heard throughout the film. Audio is well-utilized throughout the film. Dialog and music are quite clear through the front channels. Overall, a solid lossless soundtrack.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li – Unleashed and Unrated” features a good number of special features. The Blu-ray release comes in three discs. The theatrical and unrated feature on disc one, disc two contains the digital copy and disc three contains the full-length animated Origins comic movie “Street Fighter Round One: Fight!”. Included are:
Street Fighter Round One: Fight! – This is a full-length animated origins comic movie from Eagle One Media features a total of six chapters. Each chapter is around 15 minutes long. There have been quite a good number of comic releases on DVD and Blu-ray featuring voice acting and the animated comic panels with or without word balloons (this is optional in the menu). But overall, I felt the inclusion of this DVD with a Blu-ray release was a great addition.
The main special feature on this disc are the trailers for “Dragonblade” and “Voltron” but also a cover gallery.
The “Street Fighter” franchise has its dedicated fans. With each version released at the arcades and on consoles, casual and competitive video gamers are always anticipating something big with “Street Fighter”. And as there have been critical responses to the Japanese animated versions of the series, the same can be said with the two live action films.
Suffice to say, that with Kristin Kreuk as the lead actress to play with Chun-Li, many fans of the series were a bit mystified because Chun-Li was a woman that had muscular characteristics (known for her muscular thighs) and typically her storyline centered as an Interpol agent working alongside with Guile to find her father and put a stop to M. Bison and Shadaloo.
So, when there is a change, especially a major change to the characters, the film is going to cause its fans to cry foul.
Needless to say, having grown up with “Street Fighter”, going to the arcades and spending a massive amount of quarters on the machines and even covering EVO tournaments on various “Street Fighter” related video games and the people who compete, as a reviewer I had to let my love and knowledge of the video game off-the-hook and just pretty much watch and see what changes the producers and writer needed to change in order to make “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” a commercial film.
With that being said, after watching the film, I was entertained. By no means is this the worst video game to film adaptation. There is actually an entertaining story behind the film but its loosely based on the video game series. The film has its flaws and I can see clearly, hardcore “Street Fighter” fans are not going to enjoy how the story of this film differs greatly from the video game. If anything, its just the names and certain fight moves that retain its “Street Fighter” video game correlation but it’s as roughly based on the video game series as the HK martial arts film “Avenging Fist” was to “Tekken”.
Kristin Kreuk brought her talent to the film as we have watched her do for years on “Smallville” and it was great to see that she underwent the five week intense martial arts training to get her prepared for the film. It’s one thing to understand that finding a talent to play the definitive Chun-Li would be challenging but if anything caught my curiosity was the casting of five year old Chun-Li who looks very full-blood Chinese, while Kreuk and Katherine Pemberton (who plays the ten year old Chun-Li) are not. Many viewers don’t think Kristin Kreuk as an action star but she was able to carry her own throughout the film. But judging by the amount of time the producers had to get this film ready for a US and Japan premiere, I would imagine that casting had to be made quickly. But if you are still looking for a Chun-Li action film with her trademark blue outfit and muscular thighs, there is always Jackie Chan parodying the character in “City Hunter”.
Neal McDonough can always play the nefarious villain. His role on “Desperate Housewives” and “Walking Tall” are good examples of that. But to play the role of the evil Bison is another challenge because viewers have a picture in their head of what M. Bison is and how he should be. I wasn’t expecting a similar Raul Julia (from the first “Street Fighter”) type of Bison with Bison to be in his red garb but to watch Bison in a business suit was a bit surprising and just didn’t feel right.
But the video game and film adaptation of the characters differ greatly with other characters as well. Chris Klein as Charlie Nash is another character that greatly differs from its videogame counterpart but there is actually a storyline focused on his character and why he is so driven to go after Bison but it ended up on the deleted scenes portion of this release. Moon Bloodgood (who I enjoyed in “Day Break” and “Terminator Salvation”) does a good job playing Det. Maya Sunee but also differs from her videogame counterpart “Street Fighter IV” character C.Viper. The swashbuckling, handsome and egotistical Spanish fighter known as Vega also differs in its film counterpart as The Black Eyed Peas Taboo plays him. Mainly as a hired thug for Bison.
Michael Clarke Duncan actually compliments the character of Balrog as in the video game, he was just the boxing thug for Bison. And I actually found Robin Shou’s Gen as interesting, definitely casting an older character would not work. So, overall, I was more accepting of the character of Gen and how he was utilized on the film.
I did enjoy how the casting went into finding Hong Kong actress Josie Ho (“For Bad Boys Only”, “Purple Storm”) for the role of Cantana and Singapore actor Edmund Chen (“The Eye”) as Xiang. And I did enjoy watching the setting of the film in Bangkok.
Part of the reason that I found the film quite entertaining was the awesome picture and audio quality. Twentieth Century Fox has been releasing awesome HD transfers for their Blu-ray releases and this is no exception. “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li – Unleashed and Unrated” definitely gets a wonderful High Definition transfer and along with the special features included, the addition of the third disc of “Street Fighter Round One: Fight!” was a great addition.
I know that there are many differences between the live action film and the video game and of course, to make a film more commercially accepted by the general viewer, difficult choices had to be made. Especially, considering that the filmmakers didn’t have much time to mess around since they had to get the film done within a years time for a US and Japanese release. In fact, the filmmakers talk about how this film went to the wire in post-production and getting the final cut ready for its theatrical premiere.
But despite the problems I had with the film, by no means is “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” the worst video game film ever released. In fact, there were far more video game film adaptations that were total stinkers out there and this film definitely does not need to be clumped with those. It’s not exactly a film that will receive a lot of praise, especially of its character and storyline difference from the video game.
But I accepted the film to be totally different from the videogame beforehand and that made my viewing experience much more enjoyable. Especially to hear this film with my sound system and just being impressed by the picture and audio quality (a pleasurable High Definition visual and audio experience can definitely enhance a film’s enjoyability) definitely made a big difference.
In the end, is this film worth the blind buy? It truly depends on the viewer. For those who enjoyed the film, I can tell you that the Blu-ray High Definition transfer is solid. I can also tell you that if your a “Street Fighter” fan, a third disc (DVD) of the “Street Fighter Round One: Fight!” animated comic book is included with the release.
But if you are expecting video game Chun-Li and other characters to come to life on film and be exactly like their video game counterparts, you may be disappointed. But if you take the film for what it is and see just watch and see how everything plays out knowing it will be different from the video game but still in the “Street Fighter” universe, then you may enjoy it. For the most part, I was not distraught or overtly disappointed by the film. It’s not the greatest and it’s not the worst video game film to be made to a live movie. In the end, I was entertained.
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