Once upon a time in a land far, far away someone decided to adapt these newfangled video games to the magic of the silver screen. At the time, video games weren’t exactly story driven and the most popular of these were simply things like a yellow pie shape eating dots in a maze or a slightly obsessed Italian plumber navigating an under-construction building while avoiding a never ending supply of barrels that were left at the top along with a very angry gorilla. If you were going to adapt them, you were going to have to fill in more holes than “Load Runner”.
Modern video games make things a bit easier by providing back-stories, but any time a movie is adapted from a book, a game, a cartoon, whatever, there are going to be changes, it’s a fact inherent of the medium. Even if you do something incredibly faithfully (say, 2009s WATCHMEN or 2012s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS), there will be those that are furious that one little detail has been slightly altered. Don’t be that guy.
That said I have a confession to make. I’m not a fan of the “Tekken” games. I know there are legions of them and I know they are vociferous. Understand I don’t hate them, I just never could get into them. Because of this I’m going to leave the ranting about the differences between the movies and the games to the people who sit around on message boards trying to pick fights with anyone who dares to have a slightly different viewpoint.
TEKKEN (2009) served as the first live-action version of the game. Directed by veteran genre director Dwight H. Little, it envisioned the King of the Iron Fist tournament to be an underground bloodsport in the year 2039. Taking place within the walled city-corporation of Tekken, it is overseen by the fascist Heihachi Mishima (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). Within the walls of Tekken City, corporations and the wealthy lived in luxury while outside the walls, the lower classes live in filthy, abject poverty. Mishima’s death squads would frequently kill civilians for apparently no reason whatsoever, instigating riots and unrest. In one of these situations slum-dweller Jin Kazama (Jon Foo) sees his mother killed and sets out for revenge by entering the tournament as a way to get close enough to Mishima to kill him. Even though I am not much of a fan of the game, I've played it enough to know that they at least got the look of the characters right. Even SUPER MARIO BROTHERS (1993) managed to screw that up somehow.
Badly scripted and terribly acted with “futuristic” clichés flying fast and furious, Little at least made the fight scenes interesting. Not exactly great, but better than the average DTV fodder. Pilloried by fans of the games and completely dismissed by everyone else, we flash forward five years and suddenly have a sequel. Well, actually, a prequel. I know the title is TEKKEN 2, but it’s a prequel. Not that it matters in the least.
Set in an unidentified time frame that we know is prior to the original only because the marketing says so, a man suffering from amnesia (Kane Kosugi) wakes up in a hotel room in the slums with a Tekken death squad running up the stairs. After fighting off the troopers, he is knocked cold by a hot brunette in a pleather outfit. Waking up, once again, the man finds himself tied up in the courtyard of a man called The Minister (Rade Serbedzija). The Minister alleges to preach the word of god and dubs our amnesiac “K” (since he is the 16th recruit).
What this all boils down to is the fact that The Minister is going to use him as one of his hitmen. His stable of killers take out the people that The Minister is paid to hit. Though he doesn't do children. No children! Well, unless the price is right (not that this movie dares to show him having kids killed). His current top killers include a woman dressed up as a school girl (Charlotte Kirk), who sucks a lollypop and uses her feminine wiles to lure men to their deaths, which of course we have never, ever seen before. Apparently this heinous cliche is not even related to the game in any way. Seriously, I wish "Sukeban Deka" had never been made.
K: “What is this place?”
Janitor: “To some it is home, to others it’s a prison.”
Thank you for that enlightening pearl of wisdom.
K kills a couple guys in a PG-13 kind of way and is allowed to have an apartment with a hot neighbor who he saves from some British bullies. See? Just because he murders people, he ain’t a bad guy! Conveniently she also works at a clinic which qualifies her to remove explosive implants. Finally we get some flashbacks of K in a chair with bandages around his head and Mishima (who they couldn’t even bother to make up to look like Tagawa’s character in the first film) berating him for being weak. Oh, and we also get flashbacks to the scenes we just saw! The most cruel of blatantly obvious padding ploys. This movie is slower than a short bus with two flat tires and a broken axle. It literally takes 70 minutes to get anywhere near something that resembles a “plot”.
The original title for the film was TEKKEN: A MAN CALLED X, which should give you a clue as to the mess that the movie is since throughout the majority of the movie he is a man called “K”. TEKKEN 2 desperately wants to be UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012) and is not even close. Not even in the same ballpark, not even in the same league, not even in the same sport. I could completely forgive the total lack of production values (oooh, another fight on a patch of asphalt!) and the clueless, meandering script if they had shot some good fight scenes. That’s all I ask. I’m easy, I don’t care if you don’t actually have any real connection to the game, just don’t waste Kosugi and Daniels. That’s it. Instead we get what is without question going to be the most tedious action movie of the year. Ok, maybe that’s not true. I did see the life-draining Renny Harlin SOV actioner 12 ROUNDS (2009) this year, but then again you can’t really say John Cena was wasted in it.