The King Of Fighters (2009)

Rating: *
Review Date: 8/4/11
Director: Gordon Chan
Cast: Maggie Q, Sean Faris, Ray Park, David Leitch, Will Yun Lee, Francoise Yip Fong Wah, Bernice Liu

Oh Maggie, why do you star in crap like this? You've paid your dues and deserve to be doing much classier work. Very loosely based on the Orochi Saga in the Japanese fighting game series "King Of Fighters," this film completely disregards the source material and throws common sense right out the window. Remember "Street Fighter?" (1994) This is worse. In this film, Mai Shiranui (Maggie Q) and Terry Bogard (super irritating David Leitch) are CIA agents (!) trying to infiltrate an underground fighting tournament sponsored by Chizuru Kagura (Francoise Yip). Somehow, this tournament takes place in another dimension (!) which can be accessed via a special bluetooth earpiece. (???) Are you still with me? Residing in this dimension is a powerful entity known as the Orochi, who is kept at bay by a number of magical artifacts that belong to different fighting clans. It turns out that Rugal (Ray Park) wants to free the Orochi and bring the other dimension into our own, so he decides to steal the artifacts. The key to defeating Rugal lies within a young man named Kyo Kusanagi (Sean Faris) and his father's sword, and it's up to Mai, Terry, Chizuru, and Iori (Will Yun Lee) to convince him to use it. Wow.

The film is just terrible in every way. Will Yun Lee is the only decent actor in the bunch, and he's the only one who manages to take anything seriously. He's also a surprisingly good fighter, and his brief exchanges with Ray Park are the highlight of this otherwise miserable venture. Maggie Q is beautiful and fun to watch, but she is no Mai Shiranui. Seriously, what were the filmmakers thinking? It's downright insulting. How they could stray so far from one of the most iconic characters in the fighting genre is beyond me. She executes her fight scenes competently and with conviction, but poor editing and awful wire-work make a mess of the final product. Terry Bogard is a complete joke, and for the longest time I didn't even know who he was supposed to be. He's also the stupidest CIA agent I've ever seen, and for a stunt coordinator, David Leitch's fight choreography and execution are woefully poor. Stunt player Ray Park goes completely over the top as a totally ridiculous villain, and even his fight scenes are pretty pathetic. Chinese beauty queen Bernice Liu is on hand to provide some delicious eye candy as Vice, and while her fight scenes are fairly energetic, sloppy editing ruins any impact they might have made. And who decided to cast Sean Faris as the hero? He's about as un-Japanese as you can get, and his slurred delivery is nearly unintelligible.

Overall, the acting is awful and the dialog are atrocious. Amusingly, I found myself sympathizing with Mai on several occasions. The film laughably opens with a shower scene to try and generate some excitement, and five minutes into the movie Mai says "You've got to be kidding me." My sentiments exactly. And later on in the film she says "Oh god, what now?" I couldn't agree with her more. While the film pulls in more elements from the game than I originally thought, it repurposes them to the point of being unrecognizable. If you're going to take a well established property and make a film out of it, then what's the point of completely re-imagining it? That would be like taking a Harry Potter book and turning it into a courtroom drama or a cop buddy film. Do you think that's something that the audience would appreciate? At the very least, you should try to appeal to the fans, since they're the only ones who are going to bother watching this drek in the first place. Simply unbelievable, and especially from a director with such a strong filmography as Gordon Chan. I wonder how much involvement he really had, of if he was just collecting a paycheck.