"Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D" premiered for one night only in select theaters early this month and I got a chance to witness Namco-Bandai's first CG motion picture...Is this hot franchise's big screen debut the new hotness, or a hot mess?
Tekken. The movie. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that one before. Heck, Tekken's been in pretty much al kinds of media, from Manga to Novels, to Anime.To movie-going gamers, the mere thought of a "videogame adaptation" is cringe-worthy, and with good reason: Hollywood’s yet to get the videogame formula right. After years of hits (Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill) and misses(Street Fighter:The Legend of Chun Li, Max Payne) has someone finally discovered the cure to videogame necrosis?
"Tekken: Blood Vengeance" is set between the storylines of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection and Tekken 6. Heihachi Mishima’s death has left the Mishima Zaibatsu in chaos. Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima lead a secret war against each other, and the Devil Gene’s secret is about to be revealed by either man’s company. Standing in their way is Ling Xiaoyu, a transfer student from Mishima Tech, on a mission to seek out an extraordinary young man named “Shin Kamiya” and learn what she can about him. Along the way, she meets Alisa Bosconovitch, an overly friendly foreign exchange student, who also happens to be after the guy in question. What she learns about the Mishima bloodline, and the Devil gene itself, will change everything she knew about her world, the Tekken Tournament, and those she interacts with.
Does Tekken deliver? In one word: yes. Tekken is all about going big and going hard, which is precisely what this movie does. From the introduction, we see that this movie's not messing around, with plenty of martial arts, slow-mo pans, and things going boom all around us. The 3D actually helps the film by enhancing the scenery. Not once will there be any awkward pop-up or annoying booger(i.e. object blocking our view) in the scene; our attention is diverted towards the middle at all times. A good example is during a fight between protagonist Xiaoyu and Alisa that just goes nuts after we discover Alisa's "hidden talent" - the action is always the focus of the camera and any collateral damage is neatly caught witihin our field of vision.
What about the hardcore fans? What's in it for them? plenty. While the entire Tekken roster is absent from this one, the ones who matter are showcased in grand fashion. Jin, Kazuya, Nina, Anna, Xiaoyu, Alisa, Panda and even some cameo appearances from Ganryu and Lee, are all included. While the dubbing was hit or miss at times, the cast meshed quite nicely with one another. We've heard Nina and Anna speak in english, the other characters, like Jin and Kazuya, debuted their english accents with style and point; these were the main characters and you knew it. They had presence, even if they only spring into action at the film's climax....and what a lovely climax it is. It's then that you know you're watching not only a Tekken movie, but a full-length feature film: the scope of the movie goes beyond what you'd expect out of a direct-to-dvd film and grants you one hell of a thrill ride. Make no mistake about it: Namco Bandai/Digital Frontier made sure this film's climax was unforgetable.
As a film, Tekken:BD is amazing. As a precursor to Tekken 6, it's a step in the right direction. Like every videogame side story, Tekken fills in some deep plotholes while making brand new ones. Xiaoyu's involvement with Jin is always questioned, but never elaborated on. The new guy Shin Kamiya, is introduced, but never really "introduced" even if the circumstances don't really play out in his favor. We learn about the vicious Devil Gene and its' origins, but not about how the MIshimas come in contact with it. We get an explanation about Nina and Anna's conflict, but it's really random and cliche'd. Also, like every foreign animated film, there's a lot lost in translation here; mannerisms, gestures, and sayings get lost in the shuffle, leading to some awkward situations and the occaisional double-entendre. You'll laugh, but not always at the comedy. Still, most of these are small details in comparison with the overall picture.
"Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D" does what it's supposed to: entertain you with dazzling visuals, vivid, colorful set pieces, and amaze you with incredible feats of skill and technique. It's a roller coaster of a movie that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, only because you want to see what happens next. If you're a fan of fighting games, Tekken, or heck, even CG movies, I highly recommend you give this one a go when it's released as part of "Tekken Hybrid" later this year.
Tekken Hybrid, Coming to PS3/ Blu-Ray Winter 2011
Namco-Bandai just released a trailer showcasing early footage of "Tekken 3D Prime Edition" which will also include "Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D" for viewing on the Nintendo 3DS.