This in my take/review/etc on the movie....spoilers ahead if you haven't seen it.
(I'm well aware of the Balrog/M.Bison/Vega name switcharoo's, but for the simplicities sake, I'm just gonna stick with the American names).
I freely admit that I am very longwinded, and this will probably the one of the driest reads ever, but the internet has long since taught us all that a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters will not produce Shakespeare.
Bottom Line on top if you don't want read on:
I LIKED IT, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOOD.
By now many of you have heard or read somewhere that this movie is CRAP, but everybody has their opinions, and I disagree with this one.
Was it a GREAT movie?.....No.
Was it a BAD movie?......No.
Of course as a Street fighter fan there was more that I wanted to see in it, and other things that i things that I thought should have been done differently, and I have more gripes about it than praises, but overall, I think the movie was done pretty well.
It seems to me that the makers wanted follow the HEROES, and Smallville formula of "no flights, no tights".
Granted, the SF characters don't really have superheroes costumes, but they DO have distinctive costumes.
The 1st Mortal Kombat film got this right along with the signature moves and made it look cool, (This movie only got this partially right, but let's talk about that later).
Having fewer character in it than Steven DeSouza's opus was certainly better in terms of film storytelling, and the character were written better and (more or less) character acurate.
(I've never held Van Damme responsible for the 1st live action SF movie, he didn't write it or direct it, Steven DeSouza did. I would recommend SF fans check out another Van Damme film "The Quest").
At times it seems like the movie makers only went halfway with things.....as if they couldn't decide what kind of movie they wanted to make.
The fight scenes looked better than I thought they would (I did have low expectations for the movie), and one highlight is a scene that looks exactly like Chun Li's original stage.
Another highlight being the cameo of who I think was Cheng Peipei (Jade Fox from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Chun Li's fight with Vega was a disappointment...he stalked her with the stealth and grace a street thug, and what should have been a really cool fight (at least like the original animated movie) ended really quickly and was way too short.
CASTING and CHARACTERS
I had misgivings about the casting, but after seeing the movie, I think for the most part they did ok....except for Chris Klein as Charlie, and Taboo as Vega.
The Vega actor from the DeSouza Flick-O-Pain looked right and "acted' the Vega character better.
(I recall this dude never spoke on camera. All his lines were spoken off camera. I always got the feeling that his voice was dubbed over 'ala Darth Vader/Darth Maul).
Chris Klein's Charlie was just-a-cop.
I certainly didn't expect him to have that Coolwhip head, but he barely fought at all in this movie.
He was written too light hearted and not serious enough.
Of course he partnered with the all-new-character-standard-local-hot-cop: Maya.
I like new characters, and I can see why for the sake of a film extra character are needed, but it seems to me like this would have been a good opportunity to have made Maya into someone like C. Viper instead.
(I'm certain SF4 was already well under way before the movie's pre-production was started).
Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li was fine, she looked and acted the part great.
In what I believe is the only truly laughable part of the film is in a nightclub when Chun Li uses her great detective skill to determine that M. Bison's secretary seems to be gay, and is oogling all the girls in the club, and proceeds to do a seductive dance to get her away from the bodyguards.
(I admit I really didn't mind watching Kristin Kreuk's dance).
Chun Li is also the only character in this movie who has her signature move.
While she is given her crazy wirework moves, everybody else doesn't.....1 of those "things" that make it seem that they were going only halfway with this movie.
Neal McDonough as M. Bison was fine too. I think he did a good job.
M.Bison was shown more like a typical Kung Fu movie stereotype crime boss rather than a Manuel Noriega-esque military-like drug lord, but it worked for this film.
Unfortunately, all his signature moves were nowhere to be seen.
The closest thing to hinting at his Psycho Power is this weird lion growl sound playing when he appears, and his speculated ressurection at the end of the film after being killed by Chun Li earlier.
His origin story seems ripped from Marvel, when it is shown that he killed his wife for more power, (something Dr. Doom also did to the only woman who ever loved him).
I've always loved M.Bison's character design/outfit, (I once made it into a Halloween costume), and I would have liked to have seen some sort of paramilitary uniform (a 3 piece suit will only go so far), he should have at least dyed his hair black,
Rose was made out to be M.Bison's daughter in this movie, which really didn't bother me as much as Rose not having any of her Soul Power/psychic powers.
She was just this skeetering girl running around.
With no mysterious powers around M. Bison, why would Rose have any?
(Again with the going halfway on this movie).
Which begs the questions how did M. Bison lose the kid after he ripped out of her mother and why was he interested in getting her back?
(I've only seen the film once, and can't remember if they go into this).
Mortal Kombat's Robin Shou as Gen was done good if inaccurately, (every SF fan knows that Gen's chi/ki powers do not involve fireballs).
It would have been cool to have seen a couple of kids as Yun and Yang hanging around him.
Balrog's boxing career was downplayed, and he came off more like Birdie, but he did have a good presence throughout the film.
Overall, I LIKED IT, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOOD.
It was superior to the to the other live action SF movie (I know that's not saying much).
The movie entertained me.
Check it out, and don't look at it for what it isn't.
(Sigh) , let the hate mail commence.