Sunday, August 8, 2010
Tekken: The Motion Picture (1997) review
Overall verdict: 3/10
The Good: great voice acting that fit the characters, characters look exactly like from the game
The Bad: overly short running time, underdeveloped characters, inconsistent animation, off model artwork,
Current Availability Status: Internet only. DVD out of print.
In 1994, the success of "Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie" rocked the anime world. Three years later, ASCII and studio deen collaborated on "Tekken: the motion picture" in a possible bid to replicate the success of the previous video game anime adaptation. The result however was less than satisfying: a sub par product that was inferior in every way as an anime movie.
If the opening monologue about the nature of "the tekken" (supposedly the "complete knowledge of one's flesh, blood and fist" that would be the "key to life") does not confuse you, the rest of the movie might. The story somewhat follows that of the first two Tekken games: Special investigator and martial arts expert Jun Kazama, who is operating out of Singapore, is made to join the "Tekken" tournament hosted by the mysterious Mishima corporation under Heihachi Mishima. This is a pretense for her to infiltrate Mishima's island fortress and ascertain whether they are producing dinosaur-like bio weapons. In another part of Singapore, Kazuya the rogue son of Heihachi Mishima is attacked by an assassin Nina. This prompts him to stowaway aboard a ship destined for Mishaima's island in order to exact his revenge upon his father.
Along the way, it is revealed that Jun and Kazuya have a shared history. When they were young, Kazuya tried to help Jun. His father Heihachi saw that act as an act of weakness and, believe it or not, THREW KAZUYA OFF A CLIFF! All the while, waxing philosophical about how Lions throw cubs off cliffs as a test of strength. Thats to that event, Kazuya is now a cold heartless fighter obsessed with vengeance.
Running at 60 minutes, it barely has enough time to develop the main story of Jun and Kazuya. To make things worse, other fighters like Lee (who is jealous of his brother Kazuya and wants to kill him), jack (who's story seems ripped from Terminator 2 about the machine who values human life) and Nina hog the screen time with their own little story arcs. This leads to none of their characters being fully developed. Although the voice actors do a great job, Cheesy lines about "grasping your own truth with your hands" and "don't let the darkness in your heart take over" permeate the entire narrative. Along with some drivel about machine self-awareness, justice and truth and the purpose of fighting, it gives the feel of an anime desperately trying to sound as complex as its contemporaries. Instead it all sounds very silly and juvenile once given a little bit of thought.
And then there is the animation, which looks no better than a standard 1997 TV series animation. It does not do justice to the quality of anime movies which are meant to have a bigger budget. Character movements are lazily animated, frame rate is barely adequate and the fights lack a certain energy. Every motion comes across and stiff but at least the level of detail in the art is consistent. Cost cutting techniques are obviously used. For example, Conversations involve a long pan over a still scene, Motion lines on a still picture and there are even some repeated scenes thrown in.
Fans thinking that this could not be worse than the recent live action Tekken movie, think again. This is worse. Though the characters look exactly like they do in the game, the entire thing is ludicrous. Invisible dinosaurs, boxing kangaroos, cyborgs, psychic powers, devil energy, genetic alterations and Jun's ability to sense a "fighter's spirit", all concepts that are never explained. Even the final duel between Kazuya and his father is sadly anti-climatic.
Tekken The motion picture fails in every way to mimic the success of Street Fighter The Animated movie despite even lifting some scenes wholesale from that anime: A nude shower scene, an attempted assassination in a bedroom and even a sumo wrestler character that parodies Street Fighter character E Honda. Overall a major disappointment, not even worth the time to watch on youtube.
Go For it: if you do not mind bad animation and insist that an anime adaptation can be no worse than a live action adaptation of a video game
Avoid it: if you have better things to spend 60 minutes of your life on.
Voice work (japanese): B
Voice work (english USA): B
Replay Value: D+
ZOMFG!!! ITS SINGAPORE!!! IN AN ANIME!!!
"Jahn Cahnnah. I appeer to harv fallen."
Kazuya faces De-Feet.
Definitely Singapore back in the 90s.
But WTF is that crappily drawn boat??