Thursday, August 26, 2010

GET READY FOR THE NEXT FAIL

Tekken.

You know where this is going.

I'm a fan of the game series and an amateur player at the same time. I also like movies. Normally when you put together two things that you like, the result is often good. Take Peanut Butter and Jelly, burgers and fries, chocolate and ice cream.

But then again, I like chocolate and ketchup, but fuck if I would eat the two together (hmm... gives me ideas.) Time and again I've seen video game movie adaptations and they're mostly in a bad genre of their own. When you have a fighting game, you usually go three routes.

1) HAM IT LIKE HELL, AND MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO

Street Fighter and Van Damme. What resulted was a bad movie, but a hugely hilarious cult classic. I don't know about you, but Raul Julia stole this show. He managed to raise the level of this movie to epic status by delivering his lines with the panache and balls only a true man like Raul Julia could.

".... it was Tuesday." DAAAMMMNNNNNN

The Chinese elevate this hamminess to ridiculous heights by releasing their own Street Fighter adaptation, which somehow manages to include killing Bison by nuclear bomb to the stomach, convenience stores blowing up, Hong Kong Schoolgirl panties, even Goku at the end. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

2)TRY TO STICK TO THE ORIGINAL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, AND JUST TRY TO MAKE IT GOOD

Mortal Kombat. It's kind of a mix of an Asian action film, fantasy film and martial arts film. It was actually halfway decent, which in fighting video game terms makes it more or less the Citizen Kane of the genre. Plus that techno theme is catchy as hell.

3) TRY TO BE AT LEAST SOMEWHAT BADASS

This is supposed to be a given, right? I mean, we are making a movie based on a game where people BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER. Dead or Alive tried to do this, and compensated by providing the ample babeage. But alas it doesn't work. At least not that much...

So here we have Tekken. Remember that scene in Tekken 6 where Jin and Kazuya try to punch each other and missed, and STILL it broke the shit out of all the windows in the building by creating a huge ass shockwave? This is a game with boxing kangaroos, midget dinosaurs, fighting trees, giant freaking ogre demons and what have you. This movie should be so extremely badass. Make it about a huge tournament by the Mishima Zaibatsu givng away a billion dollars. A number of diverse people, for their own reasons, decides to join the tournament. They fight a couple of badass action sequences, shit goes down, the end. 90 enjoyable minutes of turn-your-brain-off shenanigans.

But in every aspect this movie just fails. You could do either of the three options above to at least try to have some semblance of a good movie. But what occurs puts fear into the most hardy of moviegoers: a movie that isn't good, and isn't bad enough to be laughably bad. It's a movie that wallows in mediocrity.

Tekken takes a fourth route in adapting shit to the big screen:

4) GRIM IT UP

The world of the video game Tekken is one much like ours, albeit in a slightly more advanced level of technology. Everyone is relatively happy. Even the most hardass of characters have their comedic moments.

But things begin to form a more dystopic picture in Tekken the movie: the world is controlled by a number of megacorporations. The Tekken corporation (what the fuck!?) controls most of America. People look like ragged shit straight out of Mad Max or something. Jin Kazama goes stealing things from soldiers that for some reason only speak Japanese.

Now wait just a fucking minute. Isn't this America? In the future, are the Japanese outsourcing their labor like we are now? Why's everyone speaking in Japanese? Why not just get some hicks for lower pay? And what's up with the name of the corporation? Why not call it the Mishima Corporation? Why change the name?

So Jin does his Robin Hood act and gets surrounded by these three dudes that say they want him to join in the Iron Fist Tournament. Now we aren't really given a reason WHY the megacorporations hold this tournament once a year. Is it for kicks? Is it to decide leadership? Who the fuck really knows. At least in the games its for some esoteric reason.

"hey Jin, wanna join the Iron Fist Tournament?"
"Why?"
"For the lulz"


Jin declines their offer
and goes home to someone practicing Tai Chi or something. His master? She looks kinda young OH IT'S HIS MOM. I didn't hear the part where he called her mom so it took me a while before I realized that this was Jun Kazama. They share a few tidbits before Jin leaves and makes out with his totally hot girlfriend. However, dudes raid the place, then Jun's house, looking for Jin. The leader of these raiding dudes: why it's Kazuya Mishima.

It will soon become clear that this Kazuya is NOTHING like his video game incarnation. In the video games this was a man who would not hesitate throwing his father and son into a volcano/blasting them into the sun/etc etc. But HERE, for most of the movie, he whines like a little girl how daddy doesn't want to give him the company. And when he DOES do something, it is sooooo half assed that it isn't even worth mentioning. Congratulations filmmakers, you've turned one of the most badass men in the game into a girl scout.

You know who would make an awesome Kazuya? Mark fucking Dacascos. That man is hardcore.

never has introducing food been so epic.

So Jin runs back only to run into his exploding house. Jun dies and Jin cries. He then decides to enter the Iron Fist tournament to kill the people who presumably did this to his mother. He beats Law (who looks like some shmuck that happened to wear Law's pants) and goes on as a wild card in the tournament. Along the way, he meets some dude named Steve Fox who I guess acts kinda like his manager.

Meanwhile Kazuya is totally making out with what I assume are Anna and Nina Williams. This seems ridiculously out of place with the rest of the movie. What ensues would probably not seem out of place in a skinemax movie. But you know, I don't care. I don't want to see Kazuya boning some chicks. I definitely don't want to see Kazuya boning some chicks while being outrageously emo about how his dad's cockblocking him. This is an action movie, I want to see Kazuya punching the brains out of someone. If I wanted to see dudes boning chicks, I'd watch porn instead.

But still...

Kazuya: "Incest? more like WINcest! harharhar"

So we cut to the Mishima building. Inside, Kazuya (in name only) is STILL whining about how he's playing second fiddle to his dad Heihachi. Asian pinups seem to be stuck to the walls, which probably provides ample entertainment for Kazuya when he's alone. *wink wink* On the other hand, considering that there's a woman lying down on the couch, he probably won't be using that pic anytime soon. Or maybe he needs some help getting it up. I have no idea what the production designer was thinking to be honest.

PICTURED: visual stimulation on wall, wasted woman on couch.
NOT PICTURED: us not giving a shit

So we are now introduced to the fighters. Bryan Fury, Raven, Eddy Gordo, Dragunov, Christie Montero, the Williams sisters, Miguel (who doesn't even look like Miguel) Since we get a lingering shot of Christie, we somehow get the idea that this is a major character and possible love interest.

But wait, what about hot girlfriend from the slums? Or is Jin just as flirty as his dad? So anyway, after a bit of banter, the matches begin in the central Tekken Arena. Apparently whoever was playing liked using the random select option. Haha.

Note that 90% of the rest of the fights in this movie will take place in this arena. All they will do is change the scenery a bit by adding plants and shit. I guess they spent all their production design money on the Asian pinups.

Jin wins his match and goes out with Christie, where they do some dirty dancing, completely forgetting about his girlfriend back in the slums. In the next episode of Cheaters, girl suspects her martial artist boyfriend is engaging in "multiple combos" with hot piece of ass.

even Kim Jong Il approves.

Now that Jin is officially cheating on his girlfriend (not that he could probably help it) he goes back to his room where he is promptly attacked by the Williams sisters. His hands end up bloody, which stay that way for the rest of the film.

Despite Jin and company calling shenanigans, the matches go on. Christie fights Nina, Jin fights Yoshimitsu. Both end up being quite disappointing. Christie doesn't fight capoeira like in the games, she's more of a mixed fighter here. Yoshi doesn't teleport or do weird shit. He just ends up being a guy in a weird costume. At around this time Kazuya FINALLY decides to do something and take Heihachi away, but it ends up being lame and anticlimactic.

Jin and co. Are captured, escape, then Heihachi tells Jin a bit about what really happened back then. Of course after that Kazuya comes and has Heihachi killed by his Japanese speaking soldiers, which ends up being totally lame for Kazuya, while being really badass for Heihachi.

Soon, disregarding all of the other matches (why didn't Anna fight? what the hell happened to the semis?) Jin fights Bryan Fury for the final title. It's okay, but hell, by this point you just want it to end. Jin wins, but then Kazuya comes to fight. As expected, Jin beats him like the sissy he is.

Jin walks off to the sunset, conveniently treats his tryst with Christie as a fling, and becomes... something. At least the Japanese dudes are saluting him now for some reason, which is totally weird since no one knows he's Kazuya's son except for the ones WHO JUST DIED, and the prize of the Iron Fist tournament was not properly explained in the first place.

THE END.

In the end, I guess it would be safe to say watch this movie when you're stoned, drunk or both. At least then you really won't care either way.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Tale of Three Cities 2: Paris, je t'aime

Our next film in the "omnibus films about a city" series is this one, part of the "Cities of Love" series. The entire movie comprises 18 short vignettes about life and love in Paris, based on 18 of the city's 20 arrondissements (districts.) As each of the segments are barely more than 5 minutes long, I'll just chime in my random thoughts instead of giving a full review.

Montmartre
Dir: Bruno Podalydes
Apt enough as the first film of the collection. The parallel parking thing seems to reflect the main character's own being stuck as a single man. He does find love in a weird way, however.

Quais de Seine
Dir: Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham)
A young man who is hanging out with his two friends, who taunt women who pass by the street, befriends a young Muslim woman. A cute, short film. It also touches on Muslim women's views on hijab (that cloth that you see that covers women's heads) and so on and so forth.

Le Marais
Dir: Gus Van Sant (Elephant)
During a visit to a print shop, a man approaches one of the male employees, saying that (for some reason) he is his soulmate. But he doesn't know that the employee doesn't understand a word he's saying. The ending is interesting. Marianne Faithfull has a short cameo in the film.

Tuileries
Dir: Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, Fargo)
A Tourist (Steve Buscemi) gets involved in a fight with a couple after he eyeballs the girl in the Paris Metro station. This one was pretty funny; I'm sure one time or another we've all been in a situation like this before.

Loin du 16e

Dir: Daniela Thomas, Walter Salles
I'll let you figure out the plot for yourself. A reference on how we are all equal/unequal? A reference to longing and substitution of one person for another? Really nice, despite the time limit. Viewers may recognize the main actress, Catalina Sandino Moreno, from the award winning Maria Full of Grace, and on a lesser note, from Twilight: Eclipse.

AWWWWWWW YOU DIDN'T JUST MAKE A REFERENCE TO THAT CESSPOOL OF A FILM JOHN T. NO YOU DIDN'TTTTTT

Porte de Choisy
Dir: Christopher Doyle
A salesman of beauty products tries to sell his wares in Paris' Chinatown (there's a Chinatown in Paris? I'm surprised) to this lady who... well just watch the film. It starts off innocently enough, but it reaches newer heights of weirdness by the end. I'm almost tempted to use the word 'screwball' to describe it. You may know Christopher Doyle more as a cinematographer than as a director, with his award winning work with Wong Kar-Wai on classics like In the Mood for Love.

Bastille
Dir: Isabel Coixet
A man plans to separate from his wife, but some unexpected news changes everything. Some of the scenes are comedic, but there is a tragicomic tint to the whole thing. Simple, yet very nice.

Place des Victoires

Dir: Nobuhiro Suwa
A woman (Juliette Binoche) is trying to cope with the loss of her son. I like this film for some reason. Willem Dafoe is also in this film, but I'm not gonna tell who he is. You probably won't believe me anyways if I told you (if you haven't seen the movie before, of course)

Tour Eiffel
Dir: Sylvain Chomet
A young boy relates the story of how his father, a mime, fell in love. As with most animation directors, the visual style for this one is really interesting. Plus it's quite lighthearted. I can see this being lengthened into something feature-film-ish.


Parc Monceau
Dir: Alfonso Cuaron (Y tu Mama Tambien, among others)
An old man (Nick Nolte) and a young woman (Ludivine Sagnier) talk about a meeting with a third person, Gaspard, while walking through the streets of Paris. The entire film was done in one take. Quirky, and a nice twist at the end. The 'shoutouts' to the fellow directors of the omnibus is also a nice touch.

Quartier des Enfants Rouges
Dir: Oliver Assayas (dude, it's Oliver Assayas. c'mon brah)
An American actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal) gets some hashish from this other guy. It's clear at the end of the film that they like each other, but neither one of them knows that. I was impressed by Maggie Gyllenhaal's French. She's good. Also, that line at the end... so many different meanings to it. I like it.

Place des fetes

Dir: Oliver Schmitz
A Nigerian man lies dying at the Place des fetes. EMTs arrive to save him, and he says that he knows one of the EMTs from somewhere. But how? This was a nice film, and you can't help but feel for the guy. Dude got the short stick I guess.

Pigalle
Dir: Richard LaGravenese
An old couple try to 'act out' an argument to spice up their old relationship, even throwing a prostitute in the fictitious play. But soon the fake argument turns into a real one. This one stars British actor Bob Hoskins and French actress Fanny Ardant. Now Bob Hoskins has a lot of distinguished acting awards, but in the same vein that you may have recognized Catalina Sandino Moreno from Eclipse, you may have seen this guy in Super Mario Bros. The Movie. Yeah.

Quartier de la Madeleine
Dir: Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Cypher)
A backpacker (Elijah Wood) meets a vampire (Olga Kurylenko.) I like Natali's sci-fi, and he tries a little fantasy here. His throwback to those old B-horror movies is nice with the exaggerated blood and so on. The ending is ridiculous, but for a vampire movie, it kinda makes goofy sense.

Pere Lachaise
Dir: Wes Craven (uhhh. hello? Scream?)
In the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, a young couple engaged to get married get into a fight, until the matter is settled by the ghost of Oscar Wilde. No, it's not as horror as it seems. It's actually kinda cute and funny. No mad killers here either.

Faubourg Saint-Denis
Dir: Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run)
Tomas, a blind man, suddenly gets a call from his girlfriend, a struggling actress (Natalie Portman.) Is she breaking up with him? As he mulls over that phone call, he looks back at his relationship along with its ups and downs. This one's a nice film. The fast time lapse thing kinda makes it feel like the world is spinning around this couple.

Quartier Latin
Dir: Gerard Depardieu and Frederic Aubertin
An elderly couple (Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara) sit down and have one last dinner/drink together... before they divorce. This one resonated with me for some reason. Rowlands wrote this film, and Depardieu even appears as a supporting actor.

14e arrondisement
Dir: Alexander Payne (Sideways)
An American letter carrier narrates in awkward French her experience in Paris and the joys and realizations that it brought her. It's a good ending to a great omnibus film (although there is the short segment after this one that wraps everything up and connects some of the stories.)

All in all, this one kept more with its theme of love and Paris as a city. You can actually feel the city itself in the film. So give this one a watch.