AKA: Tekken: A Man Called X
Director: Wych Kaosayananda
Writer: Nicole Jones, Steven Paul
Producer: Steven Paul, Pimol Srivikorn
Cast: Kane Kosugi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rade Serbedzija, Gary Daniels, Kelly Wenham, Ron Smoorenburg, Paige Lindquist, Charlotte Kirk, Biljana Misic, Sahajak Boonthanakit
Running Time: 88 min.
By Kyle Warner
2010’s Tekken came and went without many people taking notice. Well, I’m going to be honest: I kind of liked the film. I mean, make no mistake, I would never call it a good movie, but it’s fun in a stupid sort of way. Drink a few beers, have a sense of humor about things, and it makes for some silly entertainment. The least you can say is that at least the filmmakers went all out with their limited budget, making the film look like a videogame come to life, complete with goofy costumes, goofy dialogue, and just enough competent action to satisfy the fans.
And while the original Tekken failed to find an audience, I think the makers of 2014’s Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge might secretly wish audiences would just ignore their film and move on. This is a lame, half-hearted effort from start to finish. Even the sound effects, music, and end credits feel like they were patched on at a moment’s notice. Really, I’d like to begin and end this review right here by telling you that this movie sucks, that it’s not worth your time, and that you should just find another way to waste 90 minutes in your day… but I expect you’d like to know why.
Despite that pesky 2 in the title, Tekken 2 actually serves as a prequel to the first film. Kane Kosugi plays Kazuya (originally played by Ian Anthony Dale), and Gary Daniels and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa return as Bryan Fury and Heihachi, respectively. Really though, these feel like completely different characters. Kazuya is an amnesiac, Heihachi is lacking his signature hairdo that makes him look like a balding Wolverine, and Fury never once reminded me of his original iteration. Tekken 2 has very little in common with the original film or the game that inspired it. And based on production rumors and misinformation – Kosugi’s site claimed he was not making a Tekken movie, and the film supposedly went through multiple titles like Agent X and A Man Called X – I kind of think Kazuya’s Revenge became a Tekken film very late in the game. Whatever the case may be, you get the sense that the producers just didn’t care. The original Tekken was cheap and silly but at least it tried. This film seems almost like it wants to brush the Tekken parts of its story underneath the rug.
The movie begins with Kane Kosugi waking up with no memory of who he is or what’s going on. After surviving a fight with armed men, thus learning he must’ve been some kind of badass before losing his memory, Kosugi is taken hostage by a group of assassins led by the mysterious Minister (Rade Serbedzija). Since he has no memory of who he is, the Minister decides to name our hero K. The Minister trains his people to be killers so that he may send them out into the world to assassinate enemies of peace, and he wants K to be his next assassin. There seems to be a cult-like relationship between the Minister and his followers, but this aspect of the story is largely left unexplored.
K is one of the most passive heroes I’ve ever seen in an action film. Here’s a man that should have an endless amount of questions – just for starters, who am I? – but he seems perfectly fine wasting the day away in bed or walking in slow motion across the city. Most of these introspective moments are filled with flashbacks, some of which remind us of events that just happened, and others look like clips taken from the original film (I may be wrong), which is very puzzling since those moments haven’t happened yet. K doesn’t really seem too bothered by the fact that he’s a man without a past or that he’s killing people for a man that’s holding him hostage, as he never asks enough questions or makes much of an attempt to escape.
In the finale, the “twist” is revealed and K learns he’s actually Kazuya Mishima, which comes as a total shock to the audience because the film is called Kazuya’s Revenge. He also learns his father is Heihachi Mishima, which again all videogame fans already knew. What’s puzzling is why this matters and why it counts as a revelation in the plot. Heihachi is a non-character throughout 95% of the film. If you didn’t know the game, you wouldn’t know he was important, and nor would you understand his complicated relationship with his son. The plot and all of its twists are so flat they barely register at all.
The only actor who impresses in any way is Kelly Wenham, who plays Rhona, K’s handler. Rhona’s the most complex character in the film and Wenham plays her well. While I would normally welcome the appearance of character actors Rade Serbedzija and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in almost any film, neither one of them seems into the material. I can’t blame them, though. Kane Kosugi, who I usually like, fails to impress in the lead role. Sure, the character is poorly written, but his performance is wooden, only truly coming to life in the action scenes.
I’m really having a hard time thinking of something good to say about this movie… The fight scenes are fairly well choreographed and the performers are not without skill, but most of these scenes are shot devoid of style or rhythm. The only exciting fight is the last one, but by then I expect most audience members will have already checked out. The film, directed by Wych Kaos (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever), never manages to rise above its minimal budget, and often looks cheaper than you would imagine.
At one point, director Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak) was slated to direct Tekken 2, which was then supposedly titled Tekken: Rise of the Tournament. Things obviously fell apart. Whether Pinkaew’s Tekken film was going to feature pretty much the plot same as Kazuya’s Revenge is unclear. In some alternate universe perhaps we got a really cool Tekken 2 movie… But our universe sucks and so does Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge.
Tekken 2 belongs alongside Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Alone in the Dark, and Double Dragon as one of the worst videogame movies of all time, and would feel right at home in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Avoid this one at all costs.
I’m giving this a 2 instead of a 1. It’s an awful film, but compared to other crap movies on the same spectrum at least I didn’t need to take a shower after watching it, and nor did I seriously contemplate suicide. So, that’s a plus. I reserve my 1’s for crimes against humanity. You know, like Manos: The Hands of Fate or Adam Sandler movies. Ah ha! I figured out a compliment for Tekken 2. It’s terrible but at least it doesn’t have Adam Sandler in it.
Kyle Warner’s Rating: 2/10