In the course of the past four years, I’ve had a thought brewing in my mind regarding tournament fighting games and movies. You see a lot of editorials out there about why those kinds of films suck, or articles listing best-to-worsts or worst-to-worser titles, or even some write-ups on what kind of fighting games or RPGs would make good live-action installations for film. Of course, the biggest, most notable fighting games to be mentioned over the years have been titles like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken and King Of Fighters, and so on. And I look at some of those articles fancasting actors and I get twisted when I see some suggestions for certain characters, especially since their picks don’t necessarily match the reality of how the character could look on screen. Not to mention some picks I read about almost never seem to be thought out clearly with a perspective drawn to what studios could be looking for in an actor that knows how to sell a character suited for that film. So, nine times out of ten, I’m left shaking my head thinking “Dude, you’re kidding right? Omg you’re not. *Headdesk*”.
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of comments about Asian characters in fighting game-based action movies. I remember dating back to the 2010 airing of the first U.K. trailer for Little’s live-action take on the Tekken premise on YouTube when trolls would go online and storm the comment section, constantly complaining and inciting vitriol about why Jin and Kazuya “looked white” (reflective of similar arguments made against Justin Chatwin because to the anti-intellectual fanboys out there, “Goku is Azen!!!”). And that wasn’t even the extent of how toxic and overtly racist those comments got, but don’t even bother looking for that videoclip. Chances are that video was removed anyway, or the video is still there with its comment section disabled. Besides, I’m sure some of you have seen them yourself, and I am not going to get too heavily into the specifics of the ignorance on that end. However, to be fair and clear though, for the role of Jin, the character could have casted someone way further off, and fans would not have seen lead actor Jon Foo make his first solo debut as an actor since performing stunts in House Of Fury and Tom Yum Goong.
Ask yourselves, how many of you would love to see one of Kazuya’s spinning demon uppercuts? How many of you want to see Hworang throw out a sick live action display of kicks and combinations? How many of you wanted to see a Jack cyborg stomp the crap out of GunJack, P.Jack or Jack-2? How many of you wanted to see a cinematic display by actors who can personify the likenesses of Kazuya Mishima, Jin Kazama and Heihachi Mishima both dramatically and physically in the same explosive, epic fashion that was executed in the 2011 flick, Tekken: Blood Vengeance? How many of you wanted to see Jon Foo and Ian Anthony Dale transform into their genetically infused demonic selves in a gorgeous display of two destructive forces at war, like Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon in Man Of Steel? How many of you wanted to see the Williams sisters, Anna and Nina mix it up once and for all? How many of you wanted all this and more and were just left wondering what could have been after what never was?
I have reason to believe that another Tekken film could be developing slowly at the moment, although nothing has been announced or made official since Little’s film came and left rather unceremoniously between its emergence at the American Film Market in 2009 and its elongated slate of home release dates in Japan, the U.K., the Philippines and the U.S.. But in the meantime, I would like to think that while the production of Blood Vengeance was CG-animated proof that it was very much possible to put Tekken on film in a way that would make it work, a live action rendition done properly and passionately with respect to the game would achieve similar, more noteworthy results.
Regardless though, if Warner Bros says it can give Mortal Kombat another go-around after finally winning the lawsuit that kept them from moving forward on it, and if Street Fighter can see the light of day once again, then there is no reason why Tekken should not get the shot it deserves. And should this happen, I hope with all sincerity that Mr. Harada will be involved in the production. I believe part of the reason why the 2009 film performed less than exemplary was because he may have not been allowed in the creative process.
*This article was crossposted to The Action Elite on November 18, 2013.