Monday, July 13, 2009

Must-See Performance: Chris Klein in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li

Is Chris Klein's performance as Detective Charlie Nash in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li the worst mainstream performance of the year, or the greatest post-modern satirical performance since Johnny Depp's first turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl? I'm honestly not sure, but his over-the-top riff on the stereotypical 80s movie cop is nothing if not incredibly entertaining. Every line, every eye gesture, every movement... pure gold! Right or wrong, I'd love to see a 80s action homage starring this character. It would make a great double bill with the upcoming Machete.

The rest of the film is pretty terrible, with laughably bad (and often repetitious) voice over that explicitly details what is occurring onscreen, and a failure to make Kristin Kreuk look or sound even remotely bad-ass. The few action beats are woefully unconvincing, and the plot takes turns stealing from Batman Begins and The Mask of Zorro (well, might as well steal from the best). I love how the sage Gen (Robin Shou) offers advice that is almost identical to the rambling of Wes Studi in Mystery Men. I love how the young Chun Li seems to age in a way that makes her less and less Asian looking so she can grow up to be 1/3 Chinese (1/3 Dutch and 1/3 Jamaican) Kreuk. I love how an Asian-looking baby born in Bangkok somehow grows up to be the very Anglo-Saxon looking Bison (Neal McDonough). I love how we are treated to the horrifying massacre of the criminal underworld by the claw-handed Vega, but said excitement occurs completely offscreen. I just love that the villain murders his pregnant wife in a cave, by ripping his about-to-be-born child out of his wife's womb with his bare hands. Why he does this, I'll leave for you to discover, but it makes perfect sense.

Overall, the movie makes the 1994 Street Fighter look like Raiders of the Lost Ark. But just as Raul Julia's 'what the hell is he up to?' turn as the villainous M. Bison made the original completely worth watching, so too does Chris Klein's seemingly spoofing-riff on the classic 'on the edge' 80s movie cop. Let's just say you'll never be able to watch To Live and Die In LA quite the same way again. While Klein certainly doesn't deserve an Oscar, nor does he deserve a Razzie (which he will likely be nominated for). There has to be some kind of award for stuff like this. For now, I'll award Chris Klein the trophy for "Best Outlandishly Awesome Performance in an Otherwise Terrible Movie".

Scott Mendelson


R.L. Shaffer said...

Agreed...Chris Klein = comic gold.

Anonymous said...

Because of Chris Klein's brilliance...i will own this movie one day...when it hits the price range of 4.99-8.99!

BTW, wouldn't it be awesome(for us) if his career tanked and we got him doing straight to video low budget action movies for the rest of his 'career'?



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