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REVIEW: "Tekken: The Motion Picture"

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Oh boy, another review! It's been so long since I've had the drive to do one of these. Well, except Donkey Kong Country of course because I obviously meant every word of that. For realsies.


Anyways: I'm a huge fan of Tekken, if I haven't made that clear before, and I'm all abuzz with anticipation now that Tekken 7 is coming out soon. Still working on getting that PS4 though. Because of that, I went back across Tekken content gone past and I decided to check out this little gem right here. I hadn't seen it beforehand and had only heard about it in passing and saw images of it online, so I was fairly optimistic... boy, was that wasted effort. Much like this movie as well.


I honestly don't know what I was thinking at the time. Much like other video game series, adapting Tekken from the consoles to the big screen has always resulted in mixed results. A total of four films have been released, and I had already seen two others beforehand, the first being the 2009 live action film and the 2011 "Blood Vengeance" tie-in to the second Tag game, and both were pretty much stinkers too (although the latter is still probably the best of the bunch by not by much). The only film that I haven't seen being the sequel to that live action one, but uh, not breaking my neck over seeing that. 


Back to this film: this was released in 1997 right before the release of Tekken 3 in order to promote the game, and possibly to cash in the success of the Street Fighter II movie released earlier under the simple name "TEKKEN" (later "Tekken: The Motion Picture for its English dub release by ADV and spoiler warning, the dub is cheesy and lame so I'm not going to go into detail about it. Imagine that, a 90s anime english dub being bad, what are the odds). It adapts the main story of the first game, but also shoves in a bunch of elements from the second game haphazardly.


For those who don't know, the basic story of the first Tekken game centers around the King of Iron Fist Tournament sponsored by the Mishima Zaibatsu where fighters compete in matches for a chance to defeat the Zaibatsu's leader Heihachi Mishima and earn a large sum of prize money. One of these fighters is Heihachi's son Kazuya who aims to take revenge on Heihachi for throwing him off a cliff at the age of give in order to test his strength. Sounds like it has potential to be a kickass thrill ride, right? Well sorry, but you get this instead.


Okay, without further ado: FIGHT!



Our story begins with a narration piece prattling on about destiny or truth or some other pretentious b.s., and already we got problems: the actual plot of this movie could be summarized on a sticky note but yet the writers figured that if they throw in this destiny crud, it would give it more depth. And honestly, it doesn't. The story itself is too hollow and meaningless to warrant any sort of emotion or deeper meaning so all of this is just nonsense.


Oh yeah, and did you see that last shot with all the fighters in the circles? Guess what: only a handful of them are in the movie. Some of them are not even from this same time period and are people who are on the roster for the then soon-to-be-released 3. I have more to say about people being wasted in this movie, but I'll get to that later...


We then transition to a fake dream out sequence where our co-lead Jun Kazama witnessed the event where Kazuya gets his "tough love" from Heihachi when they were both childeren. Aaaaand second problem. Jun Kazama did not know Kazuaya in his childhood. They did form an connection in the second game and would later give birth to 3's protagonist Jin, but that was all as adults. I know I'm nitpicking here, but I mentioned earlier, this movie's sense of genuine drama is about as satisfying as a Lighting Uppercut to the nads, so this is just blatant fanservice/continuity retcon right here.


But anyway, as an adult, she works for a wildlife protection agency and is tasked with infiltrating the Zaibatsu for some genetic experimentation whatever business and enters the King of Iron Fist Tournament as a cover. She gets assigned a partner in Lei Wulong, Hong Kong super cop, who is as logical an inclusion to the story as her own self. He's mostly here to make you laugh. But he probably won't.


Other participants of the tournament include Kazuya himself, who looks like a bad DeviantArt sketch of Vegeta and has the personality of an angry piece of cardboard; Nina and Anna, two assassin sisters working for Heihachi's adopted son Lee (who is a fighter in the games but not here because why try to actually include the fighters from the games in anything, am I right) who are usually fun in their misadventures as dueling sisters but here are reduced to nothing more than Lee's floozies (oh yeah, and one of them dies because why also try to care about continuity either).


There's also Jack, a musclebound robot accompanied by little Russian schoolgirl (who's name is Jane but she has no name here) and is the only non-Mishima and/or Kazama character with an actual focus in getting a scientist who works for the Zaibatsu to cure the girl's illness; Michelle Chang, who wants to kill Heihachi because he killed her family... and that's about it. Oh yeah, you see more fighters in the background a couple of times, but they're basically just props so there's no point in me describing them because if the movie's not going to try, why should I.


Anyways, Kazuya and Jun meet because Jun wants to help him beat Heihachi, Kazuya's too screwed up from the Devil to give her a chance, and meanwhile Lei helps Jack on his quest to find the doctor because hey, we gave him an excuse to go with Jun, that didn't mean he'd actually make due on it because we gotta do this Jack subplot now. Also, he fights a genetically altered kangaroo named Roger... yes, he's a playable character in Tekken too. This series is that weird. Also, the doctor, Bosconovich is nothing more than a plot device for another plot device (that being the girl's illness) so I don't even need to talk about him either. This storyline then ends when the group gets caugh and Jack sacrifices his body in order for Lei and the girl to escape because I guess despite the complete lack of care to the other minor fighters, someone on the writing staff was a huge Jack fan and wanted some forced empathy for him... I mean, it kinda worked, I guess.


Have you noticed that I'm sort of going through the motions at this point? I'm doing that because that's what it feels like to watch this movie: it's a PowerPoint presentation more than it is a story as it's just trying to shovel out as many half-baked plot elements from the games as it can while throwing in some pointless drivel here and there. You would at least think seeing the action and animation would be entertaining but no, this thing is hard to look at because of all the bad character and background design. Even the action scenes are just as half-baked as they barely last a minute each and at times feel like they're trying to be more Mortal Kombat than Tekken.


So, does Kazuya fight Heihachi? He sure does, and Jun gets involved too because that's what the script says she has to do. Then before the final blow is struck, Heihachi delivers what is probably the most defining mistake of this film in how the movie explains why he threw Kazuya off the cliff. Yeah, remember when I said that in the game, he did it to test his strength and see if he was worthy to inherit the Zaibatsu? Here, he goes on about some self-righteous manifest about destroying the hatred of the world and remaking the world and blah blah blah, none of it works, it's just empty pretense.


Heihachi is no more a dick than he was when he threw Kazuya off out of his own twisted principals about power, so why insert this nonsense in here as substitute? Granted, Tekken 7 itself looks like it's going to attempt to explore Heihachi's intentions more, but I'm sure it's going to be a Hell of a lot more engaging than this.


And now the epilogue: Lee's not-even-worth-mentioning subplot of daddy issues with Heihachi causes him to blow up the island with him and Heihachi still on it, Kazuya and Jun along with the other fighters escape, and then several years later, we see Jun has a son named Jin and senses the presence of the villain from Tekken 3 because marketing, duh, and then cue credits.


Bottom line: This is not a film that's enjoyable for fans or non-fans of the games. It's boring, it's ugly, and just feels like a rushed cash-in, nothing more and nothing less. In fact, the only thing this movie is worth seeing for is this one scene near the middle where Michelle Chang throws a tomahawk at Heihachi and he catches it with his teeth and breaks it. That is literally the only scene where it feels like Tekken even on the most face value of levels and it is amazing. I already put it as one of my gifs and if you want to see the full enjoyment that this movie has to offer, just refresh the page until it shows up. You will thank me.


Overall, I'd give this movie a straight 3/10. It's honestly not the worst thing in the world, but still, when you have such a fun and enthralling series like Tekken to base it off, it is just simply unacceptable. Just buy the games and avoid this thing at all costs.


Edited by Firaga Sensei

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