Tekken Movie Review

Tekken might be a bad movie, but at least it tries to stay true to the look and the spirit of the games which is at least admirable.

I’m well aware of the poor quality of video game movies, but I have to say that I was cautiously optimistic about the Tekken movie. After all, Tekken is the franchise where Heihachi Mishima throws his son off a cliff to test the child’s inner strength, you spend a lot of time bowling and its roster has characters like Gon. How do you ruin a franchise who never takes itself too seriously and has kangaroos and pandas as selectable fighters? I guess there’s always a way.

Tekken Movie 01

Set in a not so distant future, Tekken follows a rebellious youngster called Jin Kazama who steals hard drives and has never heard of The Beatles. Why would anyone risk his life for a hard drive? In the 2010s, a Terror War destroyed civilization as we know it and the few mega-corporations that survived, divided the world into eight sections. The biggest of those corporations is called Tekken and the company has established a dictatorship that rules the United States with an Iron Fist. As a way of preventing the masses from starting a revolt, Tekken organizes an annual tournament and Jin decides to participate after members from the corporation murder her mother and martial arts mentor. As part of the tournament, Jin meets Raven, Eddie Gordo, Sergei Dragunov, Anna and Nina Williams, Christie Monteiro, Miguel Rojo, Yoshimitsu, Brian Fury and Heihachi Mishima, among other recognizable characters from Tekken.

Even after this explanation there are a couple of things I don’t understand about the story. If Tekken is truly a large corporation that wants to exploit people, why would they prevent them from buying coffee and hard drives? Wouldn’t the monopolistic company want to sell goods to the population? Also, are television ratings so important in the year 2039? And Christie, are you really wearing those pants?

Tekken Movie 06

As you’d expect, each fighter has its unique look which is pretty much ripped from the games which translates into some silly and contrived outfits. Overall, I feel like the Tekken movie doesn’t take too many liberties with the source material and that’s a shame because ultimately, this makes it feel too much like a game and as we all know, games don’t translate very well to film and vice versa. On top of that, the movie feels too long and by the end, you can tell by the end that the writers ran out of ideas (there’s the big reveal that anyone who play the game already knows, the rules of the tournament are changed, Christie is kidnapped and Jin needs to rescue her and so on.)

Tekken might be a bad movie, but at least it tries to stay true to the look and the spirit of the games which is at least admirable. Of course, that approach isn’t without some missteps and had Tekken embraced the ridiculous and over-the-top nature of the games it’s based on, this film could have been as special as Mortal Kombat. I can only think of the possibilities…