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In the year 2039 wars has almost wiped out humanity. The continents are led not by governments but by powerful groups such as the Mishima Zaibatsu. His boss, Heihachi Mishima is the organizer of TEKKEN. The largest martial arts competition is designed to keep the masses happy and the winner promises eternal recognition.
For more about Tekken and the Tekken Blu-ray release, see Tekken Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Dwight H. Little
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Jon Foo, Kelly Overton (I), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ian Anthony Dale, Cung Le, Darrin Dewitt Henson
» See full cast & crew
Tekken Blu-ray Review
'Tekken' delivers fair entertainment value, but it's not the video game-based movie fans have been waiting for.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 16, 2011
Kill or be killed.
Though by most all objective measures video game-based movies have been met with less than spectacular results, studios continue to churn them out as quickly as possible in hopes of finally striking a chord with audiences, while those same audiences not-so-patiently await that movie that will finally break the streak and deliver the high-quality final product they've long craved. It's seems like a no-win scenario for both parties; studio's can't make 'em right and while fans might see 'em, they sure don't love 'em. The problem? Who knows. Whether it's those films based on games with extensive histories and honest-to-goodness plots -- Silent Hill, Resident Evil -- or pictures derived from simple beat-em-ups like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, the results have been consistently mediocre at best and laughably bad at worst. History says that Tekken, a film based on the game of the same name and one that's not exactly built and marketed on the strength of its story, would be doomed to failure from the start. How does one make a button-masher fighting game into a 90 minute movie? Fortunately, the picture is at least not a joke in the same vein as Street Fighter. It isn't the savior of the video game-turned-film marketplace, either, but despite all it has going against it, the end result is a watchable and somewhat entertaining, if not completely predictable and derivative, motion picture that doesn't really do the game any favors or turn the adaptation industry on its head, but it delivers enough action, sex, and even plot to keep viewers interested for its 90-some-minute runtime.
In the near future and in the aftermath of the deadly "Terror Wars," the Earth has been divided into eight pieces, each controlled by one of the last remaining mega-corporations. What was once the United States is know ruled over by "Tekken," a tyrannical entity that oppresses the people, cracks down on dissidents, and hosts the Iron Fist "kill or be killed" fighting tournament meant to both entertain and keep the populace in line. This year, there's an open spot for one lucky civilian to take his or her chances in the ring against some of the most brutal fighters in the world. When Jin Kazama's (Jon Foo) mother - - who was also his martial arts instructor -- is killed by a government hit squad, he fights his way into the tournament and vows to avenge his mother's death by bringing Tekken down. Jin, dubbed "The People's Choice," fights his way into the hearts and minds of Tekken's subjects. He befriends and falls for the beautiful fighter Christie Monteiro (Kelly Overton) who aids him in his quest to ruin Tekken's figurehead Heihachi Mishima (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and his power-hungry son Kazuya (Ian Anthony Dale).
Tekken may be a fairly unspectacular movie, but it does do a few things well enough to make it worth a watch. Most obvious is the film's atmosphere. The picture aims for something of a gritty, post-modern, burned out, died-down look and feel, which it competently achieves. That's balanced by what remains a technological society, with much of the power and gadgets and gizmos in the hands of the few who use it all to elevate their status and spit out propaganda and "bread and circuses" to the ever-wary populace that's no longer buying what the corporate government's selling. The corresponding production values are more than adequate, with the low-rent shacks and bars and back alleys often harshly lit by bright neon signs that give way to shadowy corners where ferments the anger amongst the populace that's merely surviving rather than living. The environment lends itself well to the general plot of overthrowing an archetypical post-modern evil empire that keeps its big brother eye on its subjects at all times and sends in government storm troopers to break and enter and flush out dissenters with no warning, all for the "betterment" of society. It's all nicely-realized here, if not a bit generically so. Tekken isn't some new classic of the post-apocalyptic, dystopian future-scape sort of motion picture, but fans of such things will want to at least check it out, anyway.
Of course, the picture's primary driving force is fisticuffs and violence, both of which the filmmakers have nicely integrated into the bleak world of Tekken. The film feels like WWE meets UFC meets something like The Running Man. The fighters are all appropriately buff and either good looking or scarred and beat up, engaging in bloody duels that pit some combination of brute strength, speed, and martial arts skill one against another. It's terribly unoriginal -- from the unassuming young hero to the looks, postures, dialogues, revelations, and skills of the bad guys -- but still a good bit of fun highlighted by superior fight choreography and steady direction courtesy of Dwight H. Little (Murder at 1600). The cast is solid, with the bad guys suitably villainous but never acting or looking completely over-the-top. The boy hero, played by Jon Foo, is a highlight. Foo manages to not only look good kicking and punching and bloodied but he exudes both a confidence in his skill and a deadly demeanor as he goes about his business of exacting revenge on the evil Tekken government. Again, it's all terribly unoriginal, but at least it's well made and done well enough to warrant a watch. For a movie such as this, that's just about the best-case scenario, anyway.
Tekken Blu-ray, Video Quality
Tekken arrives on Blu-ray with a decent 1080p transfer that's not the best Anchor Bay's ever put out, yet it still impresses a fair bit. The picture is inherently dark; as noted it's often lit by little more than neon accent lights that give way to shadows, and the transfer delivers the resultant rich, deep blacks that tend not to crush out critical fine detailing. Colors contrast nicely with the many darkened backdrops; they're lively but not overwhelmingly so, seemingly by design. They're certainly not dull, but they don't appear artificially or unnaturally boosted, either. Fine detail is adequate; skin textures can be revealing, but faces sometimes appear pasty and absent intricate definition. General detailing, however, whether clothing or odds and ends within the frame, is satisfactory. This isn't an overly impressive or eye-catching transfer, but blame that on the film's intended look and not Anchor Bay's transfer. As flat, sometimes gritty, and bleak as it may appear, it seems more or less in-line with the look the filmmakers wanted to create.
Tekken Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Tekken pounds out a relatively high quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It's engaging and loud, but it's also not much different than any old off-the-shelf Action movie lossless soundtrack. Hard Rock-style music is expectedly energetic, even if it seems a touch restrained and just short of really dazzling in terms of raw clarity. Spacing is fine, and much of the music manages to find its way into the back channels, but it's not the epitome of Blu-ray music delivery. The track handles the film's many action scenes with ease, featuring punishing thumps that are the results of the many kicks and punches that land squarely on an opponent's body. Gunfire is heavy and fast-moving, zipping from one speaker to the next in a couple of shooting scenes. Atmospherics are quite good, whether light background ambience around the city or the roaring of the crowd during fights. Dialogue is centered, balanced, and always clear. This isn't a show-stopper sort of track, but it's a good compliment to the film nonetheless.
Tekken Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fans may be disappointed to find that Tekken contains only one supplement of note.
Tekken Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tekken is a straightforward beat-em-up with just enough plot to logically move from one fight to the next. The film thrives on its strong fight choreography, no-frills attitude, and well-realized dystopian-inspired production values. It's better than many of the video game adaptations currently out there, which ranks it as a midlevel motion picture that's serviceably entertaining and worth checking out. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Tekken features a fair technical presentation and one lengthy extra that centers on the film's fight choreography. All told, most will find this release best enjoyed as a rental.
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