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Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI – A Spinning Bird Kick to the Senses’

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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li somehow manages to be the worst big screen adaptation of the franchise. The 1994 film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme wasn’t a huge hit and was most certainly not critically beloved. Thus, Chun-Li had a low bar to clear, but it still could not do it.

It made less money—$12.8 million vs $99.4 million—and couldn’t even cross the 10% threshold critics set for 94’s. It sits at just 5% on Rotten Tomatoes with a viewer average of 18%.

To quote film historian Leonard Maltin, “The 1994 movie was one of the worst films ever inspired by a video game; it should have been titled Four Hundred Funerals and No Sex. Yet this bomb makes it predecessor seem like Gone With the Wind.”

Yes, it is that bad. Its script is bland; its characters are underwritten; and it’s a martial arts movie where the fight scenes and choreography just aren’t good. For a game known for its flying fisticuffs, that’s quite a predicament.

Chun-Li Prepares Her Spinning Bird Kick in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Chun-Li‘s issues with what should be its signature moments is a little befuddling. It was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak—who’d served as the cinematographer on several high-profile movies and had also helmed other movies in this genre. Not to say that Cradle to the Grave and Romeo Must Die are excellent or anything, but they’re certainly more competent than this.

In Chun-Li, the action scenes are hacked to death, quick cutting from one moment to the next. And when Chun-Li finally unleashes her iconic “Spinning Bird Kick,” it’s lost in the haze of a diluted camera filter.

These problems are entirely attributable to the movie’s casting. From Neal McDonough as an Irish M. Bison to Taboo (yes, the guy from the Black Eyed Peas) as Vega to Kristen Kreuk as the titular hero, it’s sort of a nightmare. Their lack of training and martial arts acumen are far too apparent.

Save for Chris Klein, who’s the only person who seems to understand the kind of movie he’s in, as Charlie Nash and Robin Shou as Gen, the movie would be virtually unwatchable.

Robin, you deserved better. So sit back, spin-kick the cap off of a Tsingtao from Tsingtao Brewery, and polish up your Hadouken! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla are taking to the streets to throw down with M. Bison and his magical tiger fists!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction/Plot Breakdown – Well, it does have characters with the same names of their actual Street Fighter counterparts. (00:00)
  • The World Warriors Trivia Fight: Round 1 – I challenge Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla to a series of Street Fighter-themed questions.(1:19:20)
  • Recommendations – Next up: We dive headfirst into the fantastical realm of Azeroth with Warcraft! (1:34:57)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to check out all the interesting factoids—Vega’s terrible costume and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbeanSpotifyAcastTuneIn, and iHeartRadio!

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Thomas L. Kelly

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