I had never in my life dreaded going to see a movie as much as I had dreaded going to see this one. I had no hopes. Zero expectations. I had to spend half the morning talking myself out of an abstinence review. There was absolutely no way there could be anything redeeming about this, the umpteenth sequel in a franchise that was never, not for a single moment, decent.
But I sorely underestimated the comic-potential of Chris Klein. Oh my fucking God, people. He is a comedic tour de force. He plays Charlie Nash, a Bangkok cop (there is no explanation as to why he lives in Bangkok). He’s got terrible face scruff, wispy hair, and puts up the most amusing Clint Eastwood front I’ve ever witnessed on film. He flares his nostrils angrily. He squints menacingly. He looks at a female cop’s ass and delivers this line with such delicious, leery, hard-boiled earnestness: “I love this job.” He rolls around on the ground and shoots his wee little pistol with conviction. He ends every imperative with, “CHARLIE NASH. OUT!” He is the most hilariously awful badass I’ve seen since the New Kids morphed into NKOTB and rolled out “Dirty Dawg”: ‘Why you gotta act like a tramp —HOO — A wet food stamp.” If you could extract Klein’s scenes and string them together into one film, Judd Apatow would fall to his knees in envy. He would cry because he could never duplicate it. It is impossible to create hilarity of that level intentionally. It has to be organically atrocious. Chris Klein is now my unintentional comedy god.
Unfortunately, when Klein isn’t onscreen, the movie is absolutely worthless. It’s junk. Everything I’d expected, and worse. Kristen Kreuk plays Chun Li. She’s the lone girl in the video game, the one that scream “YAAAAIIIIIEEEE” every time she’s hit. Clearly, Kreuk researched her role by playing the video game, although she’s clearly not in the same league as the cartoon figure in it. In the movie, she’s a piano player. She plays sad songs because her Dad was kidnapped when she was a girl and her mother died of an undisclosed disease. One day, after a performance, she receives a scroll written in Ancient Chinese. It tells her to go to Bangkok. There, she is mentored by Gen (Robin Shou) and taught how to turn her anger into little gold and blue fireballs. Also, how to kick high.
Chun Li is pitted against Bison (Neal McDonough), his henchman, Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan), and their crime syndicate, which is still holding Chun Li’s father. Bison wants to take over the Bangkok slums and turn them into luxury apartments. The catch, it appears, is that his one weakness is his daughter. See, when Bison was younger, he plunged his hands into his wife’s pregnant belly and released his conscience into his daughter. He got his shirt bloody, to boot. Meanwhile, Nash and his detective partner, Maya (Moon Bloodgood), are also tracking Bison. It all, eventually culminates with the delivery of a package on a pier (doesn’t it always?), where the gold-and-blue fireball and Chris Klein’s wee gun and his demonstrable rolling skills takeover the show.
It’s bad. It’s so very bad. Awkward, dull, and unbearable to watch when Klein isn’t hamming the hell out of it. It’s maybe the only movie that could make you miss Jean Claude Van Damme, although he’s got nothing on Klein, who is the most hilariously miscast badass in all of cinema. If he took over Steven Seagal’s Under Siege franchise, he could create a vortex of suck so funny that it’d literally kill everything in its wake. Busted guts would be strewn all over theaters floors across North America. And I’d gladly wade through the entrails to see it. Here is its musical distillation:
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. You can email him or leave a comment below.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li / Dustin Rowles
Film | February 27, 2009 | Comments ()