If it were 1994, “Tekken” would get a theatrical release.
You see, not only was that approximately the time that these film adaptations of video games considered viable box-office entities, but it was also easy enough for a film that didn’t have a $80m+ budget to go the cinema route then. These days, it seems the majority of the films that get a theatrical release have to be of a certain price range (usually hovering around the $100m) if they hope to skip the not-that-bad direct-to-video treatment. It might also have helped had Uwe Boll not made movies before then and now – particularly flicks based on video-games. The man has definitely sullied that once fruitful sub-genre.
I’ve probably seen most of the video game flicks : “Mortal Kombat” I remember seeing at the Hoyts in Bourke and somewhat enjoying – if only for Bridgette Wilson’s storks and that infectiously-fun toe-tapper of an opening theme (I was also a loyal player of the game too – which probably spurred my interest); “Street Fighter” I know I saw too, but barely remember a note of (in fact, the only thing I remember is someone turning Robert Mammone into a mutant, and another bit, obviously filmed at Warner Bros Movie World, where a boat had to escape water mines?); “Super Mario Bros” I saw the first session of the day, on the first day of release at the old Hoyts and remembering nodding off about quarter-way in and awaking just in time for the Roxette theme near the end (never cared to catch up on what I missed); and “Double Dragon” I watched on preview cassette when it arrived at the video store I worked at (remember little about that one).
I tended to give up on films based on video games around the same time most of you did – when Uwe Boll starting snapping up the rights to near every one of them and churning those atrocious bitches out like a hungry pimp in need of some gold teeth. It’s absolutely appalling what that man did with such promising brands as “BloodRayne”, “Alone in the Dark” and “Dungeon Siege”.
But Boll’s just not to blame for the downfall of the genre – the studios are too. I remember attending the Australian Movie Convention on the Gold Coast a few years back and being forced to sit through “Tomb Raider 2” – I so wanted to walk about, but having paid so much to attend the convention, I thought I best grin and bear it. And then there’s “Hitman”, “Max Payne”, “Doom”, and “Silent Hill”…. They didn’t do make much of a case to lure me back. Heck, I didn’t even bother with “Prince of Persia”…. did I miss anything?
Besides one or two here and there (“Resident Evil”), video game inspired flicks are dog shit. And like the U.S dollar, the genre just keeps dipping with each year.
“Tekken”, being released direct-to-dvd in most territories (via Anchor Bay), falls somewhere between a Uwe Boll flick and a “Street Fighter”. Hindered by a nothing script, low budget and feeling substandard gun-for-hire director (“Anacondas : Hunt for the Blood Orchid” helmer Dwight H. Little), it’s only saving grace are a couple of finely-choreographed action sequences and the actor/fighter’s participating in them.
Less, well, fantastical than it’s genre peers, “Tekken” take a slightly more real-world approach to its source material – and likely because of budget constraints. Flick tells of Jin (Jon Foo) a youngster who, hell-bent on bringing down the man that killer his mother, enlists in a fight tournament that the culprit (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, also of “Mortal Kombat”) serves as chief executive officer of. Before Jin can get an audience with his adversary, he must take down a string of lethal weapons, including Bryan Fury (Gary Daniels) and Raven (Darrin Dewitt Henson).
As I said, the fight sequences and those serving up the knuckle sandwiches are the film’s saving grace – Gary Daniels, in particular, and the few fight sequences he participates in, really impresses… just as he did in “The Expendables”.
Unfortunately, he and the rest of the cast – which also includes DTV superstar Luke Goss, Kelly Overton and Tamlyn Tomita- are let down by Alan B.McElroy’s sloppy script. It’s not that McElroy hasn’t crafted an interesting-enough storyline (in some respects, it’s quite an OK plot) but more that he doesn’t know how to engage his audience. He doesn’t bother with character, he clearly hasn’t done any research into fights (inaccuracies galore), and he’s got no punch – besides a literal one – in his third act.
It’d be easy to say “Tekken” isn’t getting a theatrical release because it’s got a shitty script and offers little to no entertainment value, but as we cinemagoers all know, piss-poor flicks are usually given first dibs at the multiplex screen. Nope, the only reason “Tekken” is going DTV is because it doesn’t have the names to draw in an audience. But shit, We’ve got to thank the casting director for taking a punt on such box-office unfriendly faces – god damn saved us $18.
Will the video-game movie ever receive premium treatment? I dunno… suppose it depends whether Hollywood thinks there are enough Disneyland amusement park rides left to use as inspiration for films and/or any other old Wes Craven movies to butt-rape.