Movie Title: Tekken
Year Produced: 2009/2010 (released)
Budget: 30,000,000 (estimated)
Director: Dwight Little
Synopsis: Jin Kazama witnesses the death of his mother, Jun by Tekken in the slums known as Anvil. After finding a Tekken ID he decides to seek out vengeance for his mother’s death.
(Information above is courtesy of IMDB).
Well we have another video game movie to discuss and this one is not a tired lackluster effort. It is actually a decent action flick but does it hold a candle to the franchise itself?
No I’m afraid not, while it is better than the dismal Tekken OVA/Animated Movie from 1993, it has its share of problems and what happens to certain character appeals. It is well put together in terms of the music, and fight choreography which is some of the best I’ve seen in movies in a long time let alone a video game flick.
The movie starts with our hero Jin going to the ring than flashbacks to him fleeing Jackhammers (The Jack Robots) from Tekken City into the slums, and narrating that it has been 5 years and the world has become divided by corporations and is called collectively the Iron fist. The largest of these corporations is called Tekken founded by Heihachi Mishima (Portrayed by Cary Tagawa from Mortal Kombat.) However to keep things orderly amongst the corporations they hold a tournament called the King of Iron Fist every year (A Deathmatch/Rollerball plot).
Jin lives in a the slums on the outskirts of Tekken City called the Anvil which looks very much like it was pulled from Final Fantasy VII. He goes on scavaging runs in order to acquire currency ranging from Red Tekken Dollars to Rare Blue Global Dollars. He conducts his trade with an anti-Tekken radical named Bonner who speaks that Jin would be a good asset to the revolution taking place. Jin declines the offer, collects his money and goes about his way.
After leaving Bonner’s place he ventures about the slums showing viewers how horrid the conditions have become for commoners. Meanwhile Bonner plans to hack Tekken using the device Jin traded with him in order to announce/broadcast the truth. Jin comes home seeing his mother Jun Kazama, and speaks with her about his latest scores from his outings. Jun isn’t happy about the dangers her son places himself into and tells him there is another way to make ends meet. Jin interjects by mentioning fighting for Tekken, and the two start arguing with the traditional angst/tragic backstory plot but Jin leaves the house to go spend time with a girl named Carie.
Moments later, Tekken corp traces the device back to Bonner’s place, where jackhammers led by Kazuya Mishima raided and taken the device back and in hunting for Jin finds his mother’s home and executes her. Jin comes back to find her dead and decides to enter the Iron Fist Tournament and take revenge against Heihaichi Mishima. Jin is participating as a People’s choice against one of the low tier fighters (In the movie anyway) Marshall Law.
This is where the movie gets good, Jin goes into the fray gtting into a blood free for all against Law, and it is glorious the way the direction and fighting mixes. Everything about the battle just keeps me focused and wondering what’s going to happen next.
Jin becomes an overnight celebrity after defeating law, and the man who allowed Jin to participate is named Steve Fox, who decides to become his manager and yes, if you played the games…that’s totally not Steve Fox but hey this is the adaptation not the great games themselves.
Meet Steve Fox
Once these traits are established we leave the slums and venture into the vast Tekken City where we meet the leaders of Tekken, Heihachi and his son, Kazuya.
Unlike the source material, Kazuya is working alongside of his father apparently as a composite of him and Lee’s characters. It works for this movie because there’s already one revenge story and we don’t need another right now. We do see that Kazuya wants to take over the Tekken reigns from his father but Heihachi doesn’t think he’s ready yet so the father/son conflict theme is where it needs to be.
As Jin is welcomed into the fighter landscape, we get a good look at the other fighters from the game series who made the cut.
2) Nina Williams
3) Sergei Dragunov (Unless you played Tekken 6, you won’t know him)
4) Eddy Gordo
5) Jin Kazama (You should all know him by now)
6) Bryan Fury
7) Anna Williams (She doesn’t do anything in the Tournament at all!)
8) Christie Monterio
9) Miguel Rojas (Unless you played Tekken 6, you don’t know him)
So the King of Iron Fist Tournament is well locked in place from this point and it ha some accurate adept fighting styles and performances. First up is a phenomenal match between Raven and Eddy in a ring pulled straight out of Tekken 4.
Subtle references like this make live action video game movies enjoyable to me, and soon Jin is to battle in the ring against Royas.
The second match has Jin fighting to prove his worth and this time around earns the interest of Heihachi and the obsession of Kazuya. Much later Jin begins to fall into a mutual attraction with Christie, and ventures on a lovely evening with her. Kazuya still bothered by the move set and abilities of Jin begins to go on a private investigation about him and begins to harbor intense hatred once he finds out the connection between them.
(Those who have played the games know full well what it is.)
The revelation of events drive Kazuya insane and once Jin and Christie return from the flirtatious evening. The Williams sisters wielding ninja swords ambush Jin in his room and they practically make cole slaw out of him until Christie breaks the door down and sends them off into the night. The two reunite with Steve Fox whom deduces that the Tekken Corp targeted Jin due to his popularity and that Jin should leave but once Fox learns of Jin’s mother Jun. It becomes a scene about how Tekken is a corrupted and how Jun was a great fighter with Fox from the past. Unfortunately the scene goes nowhere as they still decide to have Jin forfeit but Jin objects and states he is there to kill Mishima. We’re back at the ringside again where Heihachi and Kazuya have another dispute about Jin, and Christie gets into a match with the infamous assassin of the series, Nina Williams.
The Christie vs Nina match is a brutal follow up to the assassination scene and I commend the direction with this battle. Christie wins and Steve gives the wounded Jin a present for his damaged hands, and they are the iconic Iron Fist Tournament gloves basically a symbol for the Tekken Franchise as a whole.
|This must be a Soul Calibur reference in disguise.|
In the ring, Jin is put against the ropes while he battles the swordsman but as per usual in his fights, memories of his mother’s training causes him to rise up and fight with all of his might. Jin defeats Yoshimitsu finally causing Kazuya to overreact and Heihachi puts his hatred of Jin into a forgone conclusion.Jin takes to using the gloves for the next match against Yoshimitsu. Who is nowhere near his representation in the games as a benevolent swordsman, he is another warrior who is promised money by Kazuya if he kills Jin. In true villainous fashion Kazuya’s desperation takes its toll and he begins to take it upon his own hands to overthrow Heihachi. Heihachi was going to cancel the Jin/Yoshimitsu fight and save it for the semi-finals but Kazuya plays his hand at this point and the match resumes.
“You have a son?”
Indeed Kazuya admits to his violation of Jin’s Mother from the past and it is his intention that this company is his and he has no intention of letting it fall into another’s hands. Seeing that his son’s mentality is long since gone, Heihachi hits an emergency alarm and causes a small commotion but Kazuya advises the Tekken Fighters to be detained for the rest of the tournament. Some of the fighters from Steve, Jin, Raven, and Christie attempted to get away in the commotion only to be swarmed by Jackhammers. Unfortunately Raven is captured, and the remaining few scurried away into the slums along with a retreating Heihachi to a safe house that Jin knows of (Really?).
The movie wasn’t about fighting or the plot because of the getaway scenes, I guess it was just a way for producers to fill in the time by opening up the landscape around the fighters even if you saw in the picture is pretty narrow and dull. The movie turns into a bang bang shootout sequence that could make both Steven Seagal and Michael Bay proud. It was very out of place even if it is a stumbling attempt to give the audience something different to see. In the safehouse, Jin confronts Heihachi and finds out the connection to the Mishima Bloodline, and not too long after the group is ambushed by Jackhammers who destroyed a sizeable portion of the slums. So there was really nowhere else they could hide at and Steve is killed this time around, Heihachi is taken away by a Jack to be executed, and Jin and Christie are taken back to Tekken City.
This whole sequence occurs abruptly and feels forced, so as a viewer I’m wondering why did they even leave Tekken City in the first place?
Once we’re back at the Jail cell where we were two scenes ago, Jin has a bitter heart to heart with Kazuya. We find out that the next Tekken battles will not be for honor but for death, and to make sure Jin fights out his last matches. Kazuya takes Christie Hostage which is interesting because I thought she was a competitor but anyways Jin is a wreck at this point. In case anyone is concerned about Dragunov, he’s unfortunately used in the movie to show off Fury’s superior strength in a forced Worf Effect so he gets brutally killed by Bryan Fury to show that tournament is going in a darker direction. Fortunately for the movie’s plot and Jin’s direction, his next opponent is Bryan Fury.
Bryan Fury, the wildly mad cyborg in the franchise whom is pretty much Yoshimitsu’s arch nemesis by Tekken 5 is the champion character in this movie, and Jin having lost a few people close to him is broken, tired, and having Christie’s life in his hands is in an understandable state of mind. It actually plays out pretty well because you can feel for him that despite his initial journey to kill Mishima, he is technically a Mishima and fell into a Heroic BSOD. Meanwhile Raven decides to step into the temporary mentor role and pull Jin out of his slump by saying that Jin has the potential for greatness and can inspire hope as long as he doesn’t give into revenge.
This rekindle Jin’s spirit a bit and inspires him to put on the gloves, and by the way it’s filmed it makes you think that it’s going to be for one last time and probably could be because a lot is at stake right now. Kazuya sets up the match and we’re back in the first scene of the film where Jin is walking to the ring to face his challenge. He’s on his way to battle Bryan Fury not just for the championship or his life but for the world’s salvation. Soon as our hero is in the ring with Byran, we notice that Mr.Fury is unlike any of the combatants that Jin has faced before. Fury has a secret within his body that only Kazuya knows and it is that he’s a cyborg modified with plenty of Tekken tech (least in the movie).
This fight as like the other fights is brilliantly choreographed and it is good to see Martial Arts champ, Gary Daniels still showing that he is a master of his craft. How Jin manages to fight Bryan was awesome and even though I could feel the producers were quickly trying to end this film by due to production costs and the match’s length. It’s fine with me because the most important fight that happens in all of the Tekken Games is about to begin, the battle between father and son.
(Courtesy of Movie Fight Scenes on YouTube)
That was it? Unfortunately it was the most underwealming fight in the entire film. Kazuya walks into the ring sporting two mini axes to battle his son (Which never happens). He taunts and entices Jin to kill him as he does in the games but Jin manages to use Kazuya’s arrogance against him, and wounds him using one of the axes. I was annoyed by how short this fight was and thought if they didn’t waste time making the damn shootout scenes the movie could had enough runtime for a better final battle. After all the stuff, Kazuya did to torment Jin, He deserved a better beat down than what was presented.
Jin reunites with Christie and decides its best that he returns home since he’s now the champ. So he starts leaving from Tekken City as she watches and narrows how Jin became a symbol for hope and freedom. Jin walks back to the slums as a noble warrior would do in terms of finding another pathway in life aka like Ryu does at the end of Street Fighter II. It’s a good ending if used right and well just like certain transition scenes in this movie, it wasn’t. His home was destroyed in the beginning of the movie, his romance with Christie was just a fling, and everyone chants for him like he just ended poverty, and it was nothing but a mundane/shallow victory.
That’s not all however, in the post credits we see Kazuya rising up from his wounds and running somewhere else, and Heihachi was able to prevent his assassination from the Jack. Perhaps in hopes of making a sequel or keeping some of the source material spirit intact for the feature’s sake.
Well we did get a sequel of sorts but it was so bad that it made this one look incredible. I’m not going to say this movie is a bad video game adaptation but it raises more questions than answers. It left a lot out from the source material while understandable in making a based on property it could’ve had a little more direction with it was using. Now the direction in general outside of the fights is very “Huh?” or –annoyed sigh-. Plus outside of Yoshimitsu, some of the weapon usage in this film belongs in an entirely different Namco property altogether (see Soul Series). Just little things like that lead you on a road to nowhere and honestly when watching entertainment you want to see the conflict get resolved with purposeful scenes.
Now is it watchable or not?
Yes, it is watchable and it is a decent fighting flick. Would it win awards? No certainly not and if it did, it wouldn’t be those big prestigious awards you’re thinking of but I was entertained for the most part. It lacks the charm of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat while remaining miles ahead of Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat Annihilation. You do have to think this though “What can you do?” Sometimes it is hard to bing certain elements into live action form but if you can get pass some of the wooden characters and head-scratching moments, you can enjoy this film but for video game fans it’s best to just stick with the games instead.
Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge review is on the next page.