Anime Meta-Review


Tekken : The Motion Picture


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Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: flawed
  • genre: magic_war
  • made: 1997
  • Review created: Wed Jan 17 11:25:42 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Well, here we go with another anime adaption from a fighting game. At least that means the expectations are not very high. But, sadly, while this movies isn't as bad as I feared and had heard, there's still plenty of good reasons to give it a miss.

It starts with some sententious and pretentious pseudo philosophy. Which effectively boils down to `some people like fighting, and will'. The plot begins with a small conversation between a young boy and a girl. I won't give it away because, while a touch trite, it's not too bad. However this is interrupted when the kids father arrives, gives the old saw about tigers throwing their cubs down ravines, and then procedes to throw his child down the endless ravine. The kid dies, the girl is distraught but get's over it and father wonders at this wisdom of martial arts parenting.

Well, that's how I wanted it to go. But of course this is a very formula martial arts movie, hastily inventing character to make up for the fact that a game has none, so that's not how it works. Instead we cut forward several years. The girl has grown up to be a sensitive and empathic martial artist, still affected by that event. The boy has grown into a vengeful martial artist who's sworn revenge. While daddy has turned out to be the ruler of the worlds largest, and shadiest, high tech arms company. He also holds a yearly martial arts tournament, offering a billion dollars in prize money, which brings them and many other strange martial artists together. She motivated by Justice and Compassion, He by revenge and one other character by Conscience.

It certainly sounds good, and it must have looked good on the script. It's real elemental stuff, with some impressive scenes and dialogues. Except, and this is a rather big kicker, it doesn't actually end up working. The dialog is just a bit too trite, and the emotional interaction just a little too artificial, to really be believable. It basically feels like a carefully sketched out plan, rather than a believable experience. Is it poor dialogue? a bad dub? a general lack of subtlety? or perhaps the characters are too shallow to support this ambitious attempt. It's probably a combination of these things that leads to it feeling a bit fake, light, and ultimately even irritating. And then add in some extra characters, who are much more shallow, to complicate things, plus some really bizarre enemies, and it begins to slip away. Until, finally, there's a rather illogical end to the whole thing.

Certainly the production does no favors. This is clean, modern, heartless and plastic animation at it's worst. There's all sorts of shortcuts and simplifications at just the wrong times. Clearly they thought computer animation would save them, but ultimately it just makes the faults all the more obvious. And the combat moves and sequences, which should be at the heart of it, are both shorter and less exciting that I expected. There's no special moves, no dazzling aerial work or complex sequences, just some solid thumping. The back of the box is a hilarious read, but it doesn't resemble the movie I saw at all. Add in some average dub voices, some modern western high-energy rock which fails to merge with the action, and you've got a production which ultimately fails to fire. It certainly doesnt, "rip you right out of your living room and hurl you into the blood drenched arena of the most incredible martial arts battles ever created" (giggle).

Oh, incidentally, those who do know the tekken characters (which I do not) should be made aware that only a small number of characters get roles. And by the looks of things it was females and normal people only. There were some weird types in the background of a couple of shots, but that's all they got. If you know Tekken check the back of the box, discount the Sumo dude (and the Indian girl doesn't get to do much either) and that's basically it for characters.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:25 WST 2009