worstmovie-chunli

Every week, we find a new Worst Film Ever and deliver it to you as a public service. These films should be avoided at all costs, but if you absolutely have to see them, strap on your rosary beads and prepare to lose your faith in film! This week’s Worst Movie Ever is:

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

Synopsis: After learning how to play the piano really well, Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) gets a mystical scroll that makes her go to China in search of her kidnapped father or learn the truth about her destiny or something. Meanwhile, the worst interpol agent on the planet (Chris Klein) is tracking down a legitimate business man in order to kill him for some reason.

Story at its worst!

Few movies make me want to rip out my own eyeballs more than this movie. You get a taste of how bad the story is from the synopsis, but it goes off the deep end almost from the beginning. Basically, it follows three main characters:

Chun-Li (who you remember from the title) is a martial artist who finally decides to go after her kidnapped father because she gets a scroll from an anonymous admirer. She heads to Bangkok where she pretends to be homeless, walks around like she has scoliosis, and finds the mystic Gen (Robin Shou) who teaches her how to make fireballs with her hands. She then seduces a woman at a nightclub in an attempt to get closer to the man who kidnapped her father – a huge corporate mogul and leader of a black market of some kind. She does some researching on the internet, and news stories about the mogul lead her to him somehow, but it doesn’t matter, because he kills her father in front of her anyway.

Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) is an Interpol Agent that is in charge of investigating Bison (the corporate mogul from the last paragraph) despite the fact that he’s chased him over four continents, hasn’t caught him yet, and somehow hasn’t been fired. He exists mostly to spit out cliche detective-speak and demand things happen immediately. He also gets to kiss Moon Bloodgood’s character Detective Sunee for no reason. He also has no problem with a vigilante killing Bison at the end even though the law usually likes it when criminals are arrested.

Bison (Neal McDonough) is an Irishman who grew up in the slums of Bangkok and still developed an Irish accent except for the times when he sounds American. He is somehow involved in a major black market gang, kills the heads of all the crime families, and kidnapped Chun-Li’s dad to make him do clerical work. And what’s the massively heinous crime, so despicable that he’s being hunted down? Something so rotten and evil that he deserves to die? Something even Satan himself wouldn’t do? He’s bought all of the slums in Bangkok and plans on cleaning up the area to develop condos! What a bastard! Community improvement is something even Hitler wouldn’t have dared to do!

Acting at its worst!

If there’s one hurdle this film has, it’s that the writing is almost all exposition and constant reminders that 1) it’s set in Bangkok 2) Chun-Li used to be a schoolgirl and 3) Charlie Nash is a bad ass even if he never shows it. But the actors aren’t talented enough to rise above (let alone question the dialog). Kristin Kreuk is cute, but her acting talents are best left for Neutrogena commercials. As if the voice over wasn’t awful enough, her whispy voice and slow delivery makes it sound like a Red Shoe Diaries episode so much that I was expecting Chun-Li to find her inner woman and go on a sexual journey throughout Asia, being empowered around every turn. (“My life was like a dream…” “I had to lose myself to the pulse of the streets…”)

Neal McDonough isn’t terrible, although his delivery is par for the course when it comes to bad guys. Telling people. that they. will not. stop you. is not exactly. intimidating.

But the last place prize goes to Chris Klein as Nash. Instead of him trying desperately to be a bad ass, the filmmakers might have done better to get Elmo from Sesame Street riding a Harley and carrying a Nerf gun. At least Elmo has some street cred. Klein gives that whispered constipation voice through everything, delivering some of the worst dialog imaginable. Yes, Nash, we realize we don’t want a ticket to this dance, that you love your job, and that you love shouting “Nash out!” over your walkie.

Directing and Editing at their worst!

The whole movie plays like a C-level action flick that is pretending as hard as its little heart will allow to be a blockbuster action movie. I imagine the filmmakers and studio standing around wondering why they didn’t get the same sort of reception that Iron Man got. Not only is the entire thing dangerously cheesy, it’s not even shot well. It’s all fairly standard, but director Andrzej Bartkowiak breaks several cardinal rules of filmmaking, including the 180 degree rule. Some shots are framed as though characters have left the room, only to reappear later. It’s really just sort of sad.

And speaking of reappearing later, the editing is one of the big culprits for all of the plot holes. The most egregious example is when Gen is killed in a huge explosion at his house, Chun-Li mourns, and then he appears later in the film to kick ass with no explanation as to how the hell he got reincarnated. Nothing. Not a word. No one’s even surprised.

The Worst of the Worst!

It’s difficult to describe how bad the movie is because of how convoluted it is. That’s right. It’s so bad that it’s hard to write about. You’ll find yourself asking “why!?” in almost every scene. Nothing anyone does makes sense. How they know things doesn’t make sense. And worst of all, the action sequences are actually good enough to make you wonder how they slipped into a movie this awful.

At first, I figured I would highlight the entire club scene in which Chun-Li inexplicably seduces a business woman, Nash and Det. Sunee stakeout the place fruitlessly, and what can only be described as a “Street Fighter” rap plays in the background. Was I expecting “Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!” to be blaring? Yes. It was that corny.

But instead, I figured I’d simply highlight the scene in which Bison is finally killed. Is it a particularly bad scene? Other than the dialog, no. The action is fairly cool, but his death makes zero sense. Other than him killing the heads of the crime families (which is pretty noble), and giving Chun-Li’s father a baller-ass office against his will, Bison doesn’t do anything within the scope of the film that’s bad. His crime literally is buying slum land in order to make the city a better place, all while trying to see his daughter again. I understand gentrification is a touchy subject, but the guy doesn’t really do anything all that illegal. He’s trying to put up decent condos and park space. Why is that evil again? Doesn’t matter – they kill him in front of his daughter anyway, even though he’s incapacitated, and the rule of law dictates that he be arrested. It’s the final absurdity of the film that will make you punch your television for agreeing to display those nightmarish images.

Final Thoughts

Can I please stop thinking about this movie now? How is it possible that in this day, decent money and well-known actors are being tricked into making so terribly, mind-numbingly awful?

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li hits DVD on June 30, 2009. Buyer beware.


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