Overall verdict: 1.5/10
The Good: guaranteed to make you laugh at how terrible it is
The Bad: It is really that terrible
Current Availability Status: on DVD in all singaporean DVD stores
Two words describe this movie. The last word is "up" and the first word starts with an "F". And no, it is not "Fighter". The two words make up an insult much like how Hong Kong Director Gordan Chan's "The King of Fighters" is an insult not just to the fans of the King of Fighters (affectionately abbreviated to "KOF") video game series, or video games in general, but it even manages to be an insult to bad video game movies.
Cue the sensless plot that completely rips-off "The Matrix" while sounding more confusing than the entire trilogy combined. The premise of this movie involves a secret tournament that is held in some alternate dimension in which fighters from around the world "log in" to via special earpieces. Think jacking into a big matrix-like video game world, complete with "I-know-kung-fu" wire fighting and bad computer composited special powers. Its all fun and games until Rugal (Ray Park doing his best Darth Maul meets The Joker impression) steals some sacred artifacts with a plot to free something called "The Orochi". Why free the orochi? Because Rugal wants to hack the alternate dimensional video game, give himself god-like powers and ultimately be the champion of the game. (Seriously) Out to stop him are undercover agents Mai, who is working for Terry Bogard in the CIA, and Iori Yagami, a man with a past connection to Rugal. Together they must seek out a third artifact called the "Kusanagi sword" which has been passed to Kyo Kusanagi, a white boy with Japanese name.
Alternate gaming dimensions, ancient snake ball demons and mythical artefacts. Oh My. To quote Maggie Q's character of Mai by saying "Its not Logical", would be a major understatement. An illogical, confusing and plodding plot is the least of this movie's problems. In trying to mix mysticism with hardcore science fiction would have worked in the hands of a skilled creative team. Here it turned out like oil and water, making the entire movie very difficult to follow and bordering on absurd.
The most basic criteria for a just "passable" video game movie is that either the story has small resemblance to the game (Silent Hill, Max Payne, Hit-man) or the character has some similar appearance to their game counterparts (Mortal Kombat, Tekken). King of Failures has NONE of these mere basic elements! The least Gordan Chan, the director, could do was to give some good ol fashioned hong kong kung fu but even that is missing making King of Failures an absolute chore to sit through.
The pacing is thrown off by having too much talk and not enough fight. The needless exposition and banal dialogue is not even interesting nor does it develop that silly excuse for a plot. Kyo's so called "hero's journey" has been done in umpteen other shows and every character's lack of charisma is made even more painful by stilted acting and laughable dialogue.
When some action does come once in a while, it is an utter let down and a complete joke especially when one knows what kind of stunts Hong Kong is capable of. The fight choreography is generally uninspired, almost dull; Many B movies have had better fights than this. Ray Park and Will Yun Lee were the only two actors who had some convincing fighting moves thanks to their martial arts training background. But the biggest sin here is Gordan Chan's wonky camera-work which uses way too many slanted angles, headache inducing tilted shots and an irritating purple lighting in the alternate dimension scenes that seems reminiscent of "Battlefield Earth".
For all the times people have lambasted hollywood for video gam movie flops like "Legend of Chun Li" and "Super Mario", Hong Kong has now topped all that. Some might argue that this is worse than the stuff from the infamous video game movie director Uwe Boll (House of the Dead, FarCry). But on a lighter note, this movie would make great subject matter to be laughed at on a boring movie night. It might even scare off video game companies who are thinking of selling the rights to make a movie.
Go For it: To see how horrible a video game movie adaptation can get
Avoid it: if you refuse to believe that this is a hong kong movie. Or better yet, just avoid. Nuff said.
Replay value: D