Hollywood can’t make a decent fighting game movie – and these 5 films prove it

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5 movies that prove fighting games are horrible source material

About 80% of the time, video game movies suck. They aren’t good. Casting is off. The script is trunicated and inaccurate. The scriptwriters, directors and most likely everyone involved knows nothing about the source material. In short, they’re train wrecks. While some movies have some chance to be halfway decent, like Tomb Raider, Silent Hill or Uncharted, recent history has proven one category of games will never, ever result in a decent live-action adaptation.

I’m talking about fighting games movies.

Think about it. Have you ever seen a good, live action movie based on your favorite fighting game? The original Mortal Kombat doesn’t count, as it falls perfectly into a so-bad-it’s-good situation. They just aren’t good inspiration.

Of course, I wouldn’t just come out and say this without proof. So here it is, the list of the five absolutely terrible movies inspired by fighters that prove this kind of movie doesn’t work.

Street Fighter (1994)

Let’s start this off right at the beginning with Street Fighter, as it has the honor of not only offering an absolutely terrible movie-going experience, but also spawning the worst video game installment of Street Fighter ever. Granted, it was probably smart to have an actual action star like Jean-Claude Van Damme in it, though he wasn’t the best choice for Guile. In fact, the only good casting was probably Raul Julia as M. Bison and Ming-Na as Chun-Li. The script was terrible, the fights looks horrible and no one should ever have to watch it, ever.

Even childhood nostalgia can’t sugar-coat this flop.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

From one Street Fighter flop to another! Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is so bad, most people, myself included, who have seen both Street Fighter live action movies agree that it is the worse of the two. The characters don’t look right. The casting is terrible – they didn’t even find a Chinese actress to play Chun-Li! The script and plot don’t agree with the Street Fighter canon. The costumes are all wrong. Did I mention the script was terrible? Well, it’s so bad I had to mention it twice. Not to mention there’s this ridiculous dance scene. I turned it off after a half hour because I couldn’t take anymore. It’s so bad, you can’t even have fun mocking it.

Though I have to say, casting Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas was genius. I always thought Vega looked incredibly creepy and Taboo is naturally creepy as well – it’s a perfect fit!

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Let’s move along to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. This sequel seemed understandable. The original Mortal Kombat movie wasn’t too bad. It was tolerable, at least. This was mostly because it seemed to know it was a terrible movie and embraced that. Then Mortal Kombat came along, replaced every actor except for Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana), threw a Super Serious Complicated script into the mix and made the fight scenes look really ridiculous.

Basically, it looks like Shou and Soto grabbed a bunch of friends and spent about $500 filming Mortal Kombat: Annihilation somewhere in Arizona.

DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Joy from My Name is Earl plays Tina Armstrong in DOA: Dead or Alive. That right there should tell you what you’re in for in this movie adaptation of the Dead or Alive series.

Though, I suppose we should be thankful that the whole movie isn’t women in bikinis two sizes too small engaging in a martial arts contest in a trampoline arena surrounded by sprinklers. Though they do make time for a bikini-volleyball scene, so I guess that counts.

The casting is pretty bad, there’s horrible editing, the characterization is terrible, the script is ridiculous, the plot is the thinnest out of all the movies listed here, almost every female character is scantily clad and it’s really pretty trashy. Some of the fights look good, but that’s about all DOA: Dead or Alive has going for it. It has a very specific audience in mind – teenage boys – and I’m sure most of them have too much intelligence and good taste to watch. Or at least, to watch it more than once. (They may watch it once just out of curiousity.)

Tekken (2010)

I’ll end my “proof fighting games can never be good” diatribe with Tekken, a movie I did not know existed until I started doing research for this article. That alone says something, since I keep up with video game movie releases and this one is only two years old.

On the plus side, Asian actors were actually cast to play Jin Kazama and Heihachi Mishima. That’s a plus. Of course, Namco Bandai and Tekken creator Katsuhiro Harada had absolutely nothing to do with the movie, which is a horrible sign. The script started out good, but about halfway through it all falls apart. The fight scenes aren’t bad, but the soundtrack and acting are. It’s not as bad as say, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, since you can tell actual effort went into it, but it isn’t something you want to go out of your way to watch either.

Let’s close this up with an appeal to Hollywood. No more fighting game movies We don’t like them and they don’t work. If anything, make movies about the games we don’t care about, like Angry Birds and Farmville.

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  • http://n/a Bruce Darren Acosta

    Hollywood might be interested on making Virtua Fighter movie by the way Joey Ansah who did Street Fighter Legacy short film is going to do a Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist series which that he will follow the games story origins of Ryu and Ken which will be interesting

  • Rick Barrett

    so many bad movies :S but forgot about the “The King Of Fighters” movie… to me… that´s the worst :S

    • mezz


    • Jason

      Absolutely correct.

      King of Fighters was the WORST WORST WORST absolute WORST fighting game movie I have ever been subjected to, and I loved the original series which actually made this EVEN WORSE.

      The fight scenes sucked. (watching their version or Rugal or was it Goenitz anyhow he was fighting wearing a hockey mask, hockey stick and rollerblades at one point… I’m SERIOUS) Also lots of air punches (punches that are half a foot from connecting and look fake, instead of looking like they at least connected… which even profesional wrestling has the decency to do)
      The casting sucked… some blonde fat guy was Terry Bogard? Are you serious???
      The script… Iori Yagami was dating Mai Shiranui… WTF??? What’s wrong with you???

  • Manjushri

    You can’t forget Double Dragon!

  • William

    ” It’s not as bad as say, Street Fight: The Legend of Chun-Li ”

    Isn’t it ‘Street Fighter’?

    Also, why do the two Street Fighter movies have the same picture?

    • Jenni Lada

      WordPress gnomes. No, just sometimes small hiccups happen – thanks for letting us know! Both have been fixed.

  • Bernard

    The problem is that most fighting games have terrible stories, one dimensional characters, and bad acting. You cannot expect the movie to be much better. If it were, the fans would get pissed because they changed everything.

    Mortal Kombat is a good example of this. For a fighting game it has more interesting story but once you take it out of the context of a video game it gets very cheesy very quickly. There are many Mortal Kombat shows and movies and all of them are bad. Although I will re-watch the first movie from time to time, that’s only because I don’t care that it’s cheesy. I loved the game enough to bare that one.

  • William

    “I loved the game enough to bare that one.”

    “bear”, not “bare”

  • mezz

    I honestly liked Tekken for the most part and the Mortal Kombat Legacy movie was decent. We all have to remember that other than DOA, SF:CL and Tekken, the other 2 movies and any subsequent sequels came out in the 90s where things of this nature were rampant. Look at 3 Ninjas or Side Kicks. There is hope for a decent fighting movie, but it needs to slightly lose the “fighting” game feel and develop more into a Jet Li/Jackie Chan-eque movie type to really be a big winner overall.

  • Ken

    Absolutely right on all counts. Except Kristin Kruek is half Chinese. I tried to watch the movie just to drool over her, but I couldn’t hang. Actually anything with Van Damme after Future Cop sucks. He’s a one trick pony with the splits and that’s about it.

  • Ron

    The problem with making a movie about a video game (fighting games or shooters (DOOM, I’m looking at you)) is that they didn’t actually have a plot. They had some characters, and maybe a background, but they’re pretty mindless affairs if you think about it. Then someone writes a movie, with a story and (hopefully) some emotions. And there’s simply no way that the one actually matches the other. And it isn’t because video games are crap. It’s just that the concepts don’t match. “Mona Lisa — the Movie”… is there anyone here who doesn’t know that would suck, too?

  • JP

    “and I’m sure most of them have too much intelligence and good taste to watch.”

    You obviously don’t know many teenage boys. Just look at the assets this movie has…it’s a solid winner.

  • Ken

    Screenwriters aren’t gamers. So its highly unlikely you can get a good storyline. Hence Hitman. Jason Stathan would have been a better choice for lead, but I heard he turned it down.
    Kevin Smith would be about the only guy I think might be able to pull it off, but he’s a comic book guy. Don’t know if he’s a gamer.
    I was waiting for a Splinter Cell movie. It seems since its Tom Clancy inspired maybe he would get onboard with decent screenwriters.

  • astrotriforce

    I actually still love Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Both the characterization and the fighting, along with the actors to a certain extent, is better in that film than the first. I’m a big Sonya fan and while Sonya in MK1 has the look down pat, I can’t stand her demeanor and “attitude”. I much prefer her portrayal in MK:A where she actually looks like she is loving every bit of her role. Kinda like Johnny Cage in the first film who MADE the movie. I think people are too hard on movies in general, while MK:A doesn’t win any awards, they did some really cool stuff in that movie and actually had characters that looked and felt like the games.

    Of course the horrible Animality ending, the way they quickly kill of characters out of no where (Rain and Sheeva, I’m looking at you) and the dreaded Nightwolf scene, bring it down and make it even harder to like it, but those who are objectionable should try giving it another watch. While it’s not a “good” movie it’s enjoyable and that’s what I look for in a film. I particularly LOVE Sindel, who is so spot-on in the film. And the fight with Cyrax and Smoke is awesome. And if you see the moves that Sonya does in all of her fights, you can see that she can actually FIGHT. Whereas Sonya’s pathetic “fight” in the first film absolutely sucks ass. You can tell they only picked Sonya in that movie for her look, not because she could actually do any real martial arts.

    And yes I just defended Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. BAM! Btw while Raiden’s look in the first film was much much better and closer to the character, I also enjoy Raiden in Part 2, and his fight with Reptile(s) is pretty cool. I enjoy BOTH films, for different reasons. So I win.

  • David

    I liked DOA, actually. I thought it was pretty fun. Silly, but fun. And rewarding enough with the visuals to keep it moving. Not that different from playing the game to be honest. I mean, there isn’t a lot of substance there to begin with lol.

  • Scorpion

    At least Mortal Kombat Legacy proved that you can make something decent out of a fighting game. Shit, at least once a week I re watch Cyrax and Sektor, and Scorpion and Sub Zero chapters. Of course this are just 10 min mini chapters, but I’m sure a couple of them could be easily combined and extended to make a full good movie of MK. Is a shame they left out Baraka and Reptile from Rebirth. They looked really good to me, and I still prefer the guy from rebirth for scorpion, rather than the one they used in legacy… let’s see how the second season goes… BTW I hard to believe they can’t make a good movie out of Street Fighter… that game really have a cool history, you just have to fix a couple of things with some characters.

  • Sheynanigans

    Kyo’s flashbacks, he’s Japanese(I guess) and then in the present, he’s white. Explain that shit.