Tekken, based on the popular series of beat ’em up video games, is the latest in a long line of game to film adaptations. Keeping to the traditions of said adaptations, Tekken is uniformly awful. Before I go on, or you read any further into this review (i.e. rant), let me tell you that there are plot spoilers involved ( for a given value of the word “plot”). Let me also tell you that this means nothing significant, since the film is barely coherent to begin with. More after the cut…
Tekken is the story of Jin Kazama, one of the most badass characters in the games, and his quest for vengeance against the Mishima Clan. So far, so clichéd and similar to the game. There is one significant difference to the games however, in that movie-Jin (played by John Foo. No, I don’t know who he is either) is a wet, weedy looking kid who seems like he’d be far more comfortable on a telly show like The O.C., angsting about his lust for Trent’s Mom. (Is there a character called Trent in The O.C.? If not replace Trent with Chad, Zane, Spence or whatever one syllable name actually matches one of the characters)
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The film opens with an exceedingly dull voice-over, given by a very bored John Foo in a monotone that would do Harrison Ford proud, about how the world fell into a post-apocalyptic wasteland… somehow. That’s never really made clear. Anyway, I digress. The world is now divided up into territories ruled by large corporations. Tekken Corporation, headed by the Japanese Mishima clan, rules North America. Why? Why the hell not?
After clearification has (not) been provided by this voice-over, we get to see Jin doing some parkour as he runs away from some people. He does this because, well, because kids love that wacky parkour crap, right? Throw some parkour in there damn it! After the free-running drags on for what feels like about a quarter of an hour (how they made parkour seem pedestrian and dull is beyond me), Jin arrives at his destination. The hideout of the ever excellent John Pyper-Ferguson, from the film Drive (Man, Drive was awesome. I wish I’d watched that again instead of Tekken), and his anti-Tekken rebels. Jin gives them a doodad, they give him some money then Jin goes shopping, in a sleazy bar, for an orange, some coffee and a bar of chocolate from an underground, black market grocer. Because in the future, like, groceries are going to be totally outlawed, dude. “I see”, you’ll tell yourself at this point. “Jin rejected J.P-F’s overtures for him to join the rebels. This must be foreshadowing of Jin later joining the rebels.” This assumption is wrong. Not because the film makers were carefully dropping red herrings, just because they had no clue what the hell they were trying to do so threw as many plot points in there as they could to see which ones were left after the editing process. The rebels all die in a few minutes time, anyway. In the bar, Jin avoids joining up with a different group of rebels, then leaves and goes home to his mother, played by the excellent Tamlyn Tomita from The Joy Luck Club (Man, The Joy Luck Club was awesome. I wish I’d watched that again of Tekken).
There’s a brief argument about nothing specific, then Jin storms out and has sex with a girl he meets in an alleyway. Possibly to reassure the audience of Jin’s heterosexuality, because lord knows it has no bearing on plot or character development. After a brief coitus interruptus, interrupted itself by some dudes outside who never actually enter the apartment where Jin and anonymous girlfriend were getting their freak on, Jin runs home to his mother, only to arrive just in time to see his family hovel blown to smithereens. Jin swears REVENGE!
Sidebar: During the raid by the dudes in masks, we several shots of computers filled with info about Jin as the masked dudes try to track down Jin Kazama. This is never mentioned again, even after Jin enters the Iron Fist Touranament and becomes the subject of intense Mishima scrutiny, despite the fact that the masked guys are Mishima shock troops who answer directly to the Mishimas. Also, that girl Jin nearly has sex with? I’m sure she’s meant to be his regular girlfriend or something, but the film never really makes it clear. Because of that, she appears to be a random girl who gives it up in exchange for a bar of chocolate. That just bugs me.
Jin goes to the Iron fist tournament open qualifiers for some reason, I’m not sure why, entirely. Outside the arena, Steve Fox (we don’t find out his name for ages. Not because of any great mystery to it, the scriptwriter just forgot to make explicit the name of a major character in the screenplay. As you do) is trying to hustle people into taking on the qualifying round fighter. Fox is played by the usually excellent Luke Goss, from Hellboy 2 (Man, Hellboy 2 was awesome. I wish I’d watched that again instead of Tekken). Jin enters the arena and fights Marshall Law, a big Chinese looking dude who slaps Jin around for a bit, before getting his arse handed to him by Jin. A scrawny kid who does his Kung-Fu in a manner reminiscent of Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse. After the fight, Jin hires Fox to be his manager, then we cut to a scene of Kazuya Mishima (son of Heihachi) having a threesome with the Williams sisters. Kazuya is played by a man with a very angular head. I was never able to judge his performance properly throughout the film, on account of being too busy trying to figure out what shape his head was.
We then arrive at the Tekken compound, in Tekken City, owned by the Tekken Corporation. That’s a lot of Tekkens, isn’t it? Trust me, I’m not exaggerating how often the word Tekken in used I connection with anything in the plot. The characters use the word “Tekken” in the same way De Niro and Pesci used the word “fuck” in Raging Bull. I’m going to stop doing it now, because it annoyed the shit out of me during the film. Anyway, I digress. Back to the plot. Jin arrives in the compound and stares down a bunch of other fighters, except for the character of Christie Monteiro, played by Kelly Overton from, um… Nope. I’m drawing a blank here. Christie stares at Jin with the closest approximation of lust the actress can manage in the face of a hero who doesn’t look old enough to shave yet. Why? Because Jin is meant to be manly and sexy, so consequently the film-makers are going to push that angle, no matter how nonsensical it might be.
Some fights happen and what passes for the plot ensues, but I’ll be honest, the film had beaten me into submission by this point. I watched to the end because, well I was already sitting down and I couldn’t be bothered to go away and do something else. I also watched it because I kept waiting for Heihachi to do something. Heihachi was played by the normally excellent Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa from all kinds of stuff I wish I’d watched instead of Tekken, including – but not limited to, Thunder in Paradise 3 and Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding. Heihachi never really did anything, Christie shows more arse cleavage than a plumber on a weight loss program…
…the fight scenes were very badly choreographed and at the end we get a voice-over, by an actress who sounds as bored as Foo did at the beginning, which provides absolutely zero clearification on what the hell just happened. Film ends, fade to black and we get a montage of Jin’s various fight scenes set to Baccara’s “Yes sir, I can boogie” (OK, not really. But it would have been a far better ending).
In short, this film sucks harder than the black hole at the centre of our galaxy and it’s one hour and twenty-seven minutes of truly horrible film making. The acting is lousy, the fight choreography is limp, the action scenes are dull, the direction is inept and the script is a nonsensical mess. The script is probably the worst part of the whole thing. I’m a gamer and I’m very familiar with the Tekken games. The games have a more coherent plot than the film, and considering the ludicrous extremes the plot of the games goes to, that’s really saying something. Avoid this film at all costs. Watching it only puts money into the pockets of the people who gave it the greenlight and quite frankly, they don’t deserve to earn anything from this abomination of a film.