The problems with Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li began with the casting of dead-eyed, sleepy-voiced, charisma-impaired automaton Kristin Kreuk as the titular piano-playing/fighting machine, and they continue with every other miserable facet of the production. Kreuk delivers her lines like a first-grade Sunday-school teacher addressing her students, and she boasts the energy and magnetism of a department-store mannequin. And she isn’t even the film’s most miscast actor. That dubious honor belongs to American Pie funster Chris Klein as a wisecracking Interpol agent. It’s hard to say what’s sadder: that Klein aspires only to recapture the Jack Nicholson For Dummies smartass swagger of Kuffs-era Christian Slater, or that he fails miserably. Like the film, Klein aims low, yet still misses his mark.
Kreuk plays a big-hearted ivory-tinkler drawn into a web of intrigue after she receives a mysterious scroll beckoning her to Bangkok, where her father (Edmund Chen) has been kidnapped by sneering underworld kingpin Neal McDonough. Kreuk travels east in search of justice, and becomes the eager disciple of an enigmatic mentor prone to delivering pseudo-mystic mumbo jumbo. Klein co-stars as a tough lawman who aids Kreuk in her bid to bring McDonough down.
Chun-Li should have an unbeatable blueprint for its action sequences in the distinctive fights of the classic videogame franchise that inspired it. Instead, director Andrzej Bartkowiak (Doom) stingily doles out generic, choppily edited fight scenes, so as not to distract from the parade of bad actors stiffly reciting wooden dialogue while inhabiting characters somehow less complex and multidimensional than their arcade counterparts. Chun-Li takes forever to get going, wasting valuable ass-kicking time with clumsy exposition and DOA one-liners. The film’s title should induce wistful nostalgia for lost, Mountain Dew-fueled afternoons manically punching buttons and maneuvering joysticks, but the dreary, joyless, indifferently directed film quickly squanders that goodwill. Chun-Li understandably wasn’t screened for critics. It shouldn’t be screened for audiences, either. Even Uwe Boll could have done better; at least he makes terrible videogame adaptations with a little personality.