In a world where movies based on video games are slowly becoming more popular, suffering from the same growing pains and overall terribleness of early superhero movies did. Maybe there have been some diamonds in the rough that could show: how to make a good movie based on a video game. Maybe in all the badness there is a hidden blueprint to turn bad into good.
Tekken, like most other games in the fighting genre has managed to build up an oddly deep, insane story across multiple iterations. This is surprising when taking into consideration that fighting games generally have multiple endings, not much time to really tell a story with a couple sentences at the beginning and end of singleplayer, and is ultimately a genre built on gameplay. Story just acts as a conceit for why the King of Iron Fist or whatever tournament is happening again. Only just recently with the release of Mortal Kombat (2011) did a fighting game really get me interested in a single player experience. Tekken first came to arcades in 1994, coming to Playstation in 1995.
In a world where movies based on video games are slowly becoming more popular, suffering from the same growing pains and overall terribleness of early superhero movies, Tekken has already managed to have 3 movies made about it. Three movies based around a game that is ultimately an excuse to have 3D fights. At its heart the Tekken franchise is all about terrible fathers turning their sons into terrible fathers who in turn repeat the cycle. O yea, there is also some crazy corporate espionage, eastern mysticism, something about the Devil, and all around insanity too. Tekken has all the makings of a great soap opera for men.
Tekken: The Motion Picture isn’t a very good movie in both technical and story categories. Than again it also wasn't originally meant to be seen in as single entity. The Motion Picture is cut together from a two part OVA anime series. It noticeably has an extended freeze frame moment about halfway through that seems to end episode 1. Even if it was shown to me in a two part format everything about it suffers.
It runs just 60 minutes, that isn’t a enough time to really tell a story. It tries to tell a story but even if it had more time, it is written with such a tone deaf hand that I checked out, trying to enjoy the under animated fight scenes. Fighting games have a large cast of characters that continue to grow with each installment. Tekken at least is smart enough to only focus on 4 characters, splitting them into an A and B plot. The B plot involving Lei Wulong and Jack-2 which wasn’t better executed than the A plot involving Kazuya and Jun, but was more enjoyable to watch. Lei and Jack-2 search for the doctor to save this random girl at least gave you a heroic sacrifice and palatable drama. The Kazuya and Jun plot was not well executed, killed by terrible dialog that talked of spirits and evil. So blunt and quasi-philosophical the majority of Jun’s lines sounded like something from the writers of The Last Airbender.
The reson they are all there is to fight one man Heihachi Mishima. Heihachi is the head of the Mishima Conglomerate (Mishima Zaibatsu in the games) and all around terrible father. He throws his kid, Kazuya off a cliff in the first five minutes in order to see if his son is strong enough. So that sets up Kazuya on his quest for vengeance. Heihachi also manages to piss off just about everyone else in the tournament he holds, which is never called the King of Iron Fist Tournament. Clearly not a nice guy.
Kazuya was the protagonist of the first game. In this he has his own motivations in this but doesn't really lead. All he is, is a thing for Jun to save. Because she can sense his spirit and saw him thrown off the cliff and it affected her deeply, the whole thing is melodramatic. At best he is an anti-hero, who later becomes the villain in game. In the movie he is as robotic as Jack-2, Adam Dudley has the vocal depth of Hayden Christensen. The same goes for Jun, voiced by Edi Patterson who finds her own Hayden Christensen levels of terribleness in how much she whines. Their acting is bad but is exasperated by the terribly written dialog. The voice actors in this dub are by and large terrible, with monotone delivery to everything. The only time this works is for Jack-2 since HE IS A ROBT. Clearly something was lost in translation or didn’t care.
Tekken did do a good job at least with some fanservice moments in the form of silent character cameos. Silent Cameos are the best thing this movie did...
Still this is a movie based on Tekken, you’re watching it to see the guys you played as fight each other. Sadly the animation is stiff, this isn’t the movies fault since it is over a decade old. This stiff animation and flashing background was more reminiscent of the boring Dragon Ball Z moments than the awesome Dragon Ball Z moments. There are some decent fights but there aren’t any references to moves from the game. In the end despite unique appearances everyone has the same moves. The fight sequences are also never given any time to breathe. Never giving fans a fun fight scene is the worst thing this move could do. And it did that.
Tekken: The Motion Picture is a great example of what one should expect from movies based on fighting games, a shoestring plot in a convoluted universe that is there to allow for various pairings of people to fight each other. This had the makings of a fun action film, someone just needs to come along and put it together. After that someone needs to do the hard part, transcend it all.
For some reason if you want to watch this movie it is all up on YouTube. There is one NSFW scene but you probably should be watching this at work anyways.