Title: Tekken: Blood Vengeance
Director: Youichi Mouri
Writer: Dai Sato
Distributed By: Asmik Ace Entertainment, Bandai Entertainment
Starring: Carrie Keranen, Cristina Valenzuela, David Vincent, Kyle Herbert
Release Date: July 26th, 2011
Anna Williams (Tara Platt) sends Ling Xiaoyu (Carrie Keranen) over to a school in Kyoto on behalf of the G Corporation. Xiaoyu’s mission is to investigate a student named Shin Kamiya (David Vincent), who along with his other former alumni, had mysteriously disappeared for a while. Along the way Xiaoyu meets Alisa Bosconovitch (Cristina Valenzuela), a student with her heart set on Kamiya. And in the midst of the investigation, Nina Williams (Charlotte Bell) (working under Mishima Zaibatsu) is continuing her feud with Anna Williams. And the lineage of Jin Kazama (Patrick Seitz), Kazuya Mishima (Kyle Hebert), and Heihachi Mishima (Jamieson Price) are continuing their fight against each other, which could end in catastrophic destruction.
When it comes to fighting games, there’s three kings that reign supreme in both the arcade cabinets and the video game consoles. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken. Mortal Kombat had one of the most awesome films of all time (not to mention some of the best soundtracks of all time). Street Fighter had a classic animated film (Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie for you non-anime people). But Tekken…not so much. They had one lousy animated film and one lousy live-action film. Now, though, they’re trying once more with an all new CGI film. Tekken: Blood Vengeance is a film that goes balls to the wall and attempts to be a bit more faithful to the video game series. Whether it’s good or not is another question.
Could YOU fight in high heels? Yeah, didn't think so.
For starters, this is really a love letter to fans of the Tekken series. That’s not to say that you have to be a hardcore Tekken fan or even know anything about Tekken to enjoy it. But it sure does help.
Personally, I’m not a hardcore Tekken fan, but I have played Tekken Tag Tournament and Tekken III, so I do know just enough about the characters and setting to piece the plot together.
But even then, the plot can get pretty crazy. Pandas faster than a blue hedgehog. Chainsaw-arm wielding school girls. High heel sister fights. Which again, all relates to the video game, but even then it’s wacky when it gets translated to the film.
Only in Japan….
However, it’s not the plot that might turn off viewers. The plot can be fun if you take it for what it is (kind of like accepting the logic in a dream). However, much of the Japanese style and humor might turn off Western audiences. Not because it’s obscene or anything controversial. But it has things such as school girl crushes, fights that result in ultra destruction, and odd jokes.
But those things can also be fun if you take it for what it is. What can’t be taken for fun is the dialog. It’s not Engrish, the translation is well done. But the humor is lost at times. And also, going back to the Japanese style, the dialog is very direct. And the acting doesn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, the performances are all good and capture the characters well. But with the dialog and facial expressions, it’s very much expressive and over the top. Akin to the very early era of film where the actors would be very expressive rather than subtle. While it’s reminiscent of some of the cheesy anime stuff, it wasn’t so bad that I was overly aggravated with the film.
Lee Chaolan teaches Bishōnen 101.
With that being said, though, I’m sure many of you (including myself) aren’t going to see Tekken: Blood Vengeance for story or dialog. Much of its strength comes from the action scenes. Yes, they’re over the top, but that’s what makes it fun. No one can jump 9 feet (in high heels on top of that) or fall three stories and be OK. But the lack of realism allows them to get creative, and much of the fighting is in spirit of the Tekken games.
But the big draw here is the CGI. The CGI is beautiful, whether it be the models, lighting, or animation. Admittedly there are some flaws, like how the background can a lot of times be too plain and simple. And I know some of you are going to snide “well, it’s no Pixar animation.” But that’s what makes it impressive. The fact that it isn’t on a Pixar or Dreamworks budget yet is still impressive. Tekken: Blood Vengeance shows just how far 3-D animation has come over the years. And I can’t wait to see how far they’ll advance in technology with the next Tekken film (if they decide to make one).
Mishima Zaibatsu employs some ED-209s.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance may not be as memorable as Mortal Kombat or as deep as Street Fighter II: The Movie, but you know what? It’s zany fun if you take it for what it is. And if you’re looking for some eye candy (the CGI and action scenes, you perv), then you’re in for one hell of a treat.
Review copy provided by Bandai Entertainment.