The King of Fighters (Movie)

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The King of Fighters (Movie)
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The King of Fighters
Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Double Edge Productions
July 26th, 2011
Release length: 1:31:50
As a die-hard fan of gaming since I as early as 1989 with the Nintendo Entertainment System, I’ve thrown a lot of my life in the past twenty years away, and countless thousands upon thousands of dollars into new games, consoles, and accessories for the ultimately in nerd joys. Over the past many years though, it seems that Hollywood has taken on video game film adaptations, and loves to either destroy or astound us. Specifically when it comes to one on one fighting games from gamer’s cherished childhoods. Among these films to be produced into a film adaptation recently is The King of Fighters, a film I was unaware was even being made. Given the string of bad luck these movies typically had when you look at the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter films, one can only wonder how this film will play out. With a premise as simple as just being the best in a tournament of fighters, with no real repucussions, could the company behind this film honestly destroy The King of Fighters?

The film starts with a focus on the main character, Mai, as well as Riuri, who is introduced shortly after the opening battle scene, which seems like a flashback upon picking up the bluetooth-looking headpiece, but is an actual enounter that this piece of technology allows the wearer to take part in, throwing him or her into the battle grid. This all happens after a steamy shower scene, but with no nudity. All the characters in the movie are already currently fighting in the tournament, which has battles happen by placing a blu-tooth headset with the King of Fights hologram logo on it to transport them mentally into the fight, allowing us to watch Mai defeat the first opponent inside a large freezer. The battle scene is not that bad, but it moves rather slow, and you can’t help but watch it play out coming up with counters dRiuring the execution of a move or combo, and even after dRiuring the pause between these attacks from each fighter. This sets up the premise and how bad the fighting can be, especially after Mai’s opponent is hit by the empty spot under a metal table, and you see that some of the hits are followed by a surge of electricity from both fighters.

The story does progress well at the start of the film, introducing the two characters, a group of people in a car on a stake out with the introduced fighters of the tournament while Mai and Riuri are at a party by the man who put the tournament together. Here they talk about some of the artifacts being displayed, including a sword and necklace, their powers, and what they mean to their heritage. However, it’s not long before a new character, Riku, is brought into the mix rather abruptly by shooting the bodyguard outside, one inside, then a short action scene more focused on gun fights then actual martial arts. Mai winds up wounded, and it’s clear that Ryuku was after the artifacts and performing a brief blood ritual on the necklace and other items he stole to be transported, but left behind the apparently fake sword. And, with this sudden story ark, the film goes from being about taking part in a Jesu Kakuru, large-scale tournament, to finding the sword in order to save the world. Of course Mai is charged with the task of finding this sword, as well as meeting with a Saisyu Kusanagi, who is in a hostpital and incompetant. However, his son walks in to express his lack of knowledge to the artifacts, as well as to trigger padding with the son reading to his father and a martial arts training montage, then have Mr. Kusinagi try to strangle Rriuri upon introducing himself, then die shortly after.

Just when you think that the story is going to completely go off the beaten path, the tournament is brought back into it. Rubel somehow hacks the King of Fighters network from the other dimension he goes out to, and challenges every fighter in the tournament, overriding the system and warnings that were sent to the other combatants. Of course, two of the fighters, a lesbian couple who are abruptly interrupted with an invitation to fight, do enter the fighting realm, which opens the doors for more fighters to enter due to an agreement from the one to spare the other fighter. The effects during that two on one fight are actually quite enjoyable, as Rugal happens to have fire appear during some moves, even the choreography of the fight is tighter with faster execution. These two actually wind up having larger rolls in the story as they fight other characters that accept the challenge, such as Iori when he accept an invitation. Of course this scene, like the previous two, are pretty short, though this one is definitely the shortest as it’s interrupted with Iori finding a power from the other dimensional battle that apparently was locked away inside him.

For much of the film, this becomes the main concept of the film. The King of Fighters is heavily story oriented, having to deal with Kyo Kusanagiu and Iori Yagami coming to terms with their heritage of their families being at war, all to overcome Rugal and stop Orochi, who he seeks to awaken by becoming the King of Fighters. Granted somce of the characters of the film are based on characters from the game, such as Terry Bogart and the female lovers who appear through the film with Rugal, Vice and Mature. Many of these characters happenm to enter the fighting dimension wearing alternate outfits to their physical selves, and while they are not the direct attire from the game, they do come somewhat close to the original designs, which of course means a good deal of sex appeal with the female character’s costumes that often involve some tasteful yet slightly low cut top and a short skirt with various moments of slow motion on upskirt shots. The atmosphere and production value to the film can often feel reminiscent of the Mortal Kombat film series as well. The King of Fighters looks and feels stylish without really abusing the special effects, and finds itself very story driven while also not quite taking itself too seriously at times, such as during the various hospital scenes involving two of the characters running the tournament and Terry Bogart asserting his CIA authorities, or during the Rugal and Iuri battle scene later in the film that presents the 2D fighting plain perspective and preparation for the battle to start with the familiar announcer saying their names, the round number, and “fight!” similar to what fighting games have led us to expect from them through the years.

Luckily, once you hit the one hour mark, the movie puts the story behind a bit, and focuses in on action. The other dimension is definitely a lot darker and stylish compared to reality, which really helps to set up a great atmosphere that seperates both of the realms. However, the story concept remains similar to the aforementioned Mortal Kombat film and even story line of the games as it deals with Rugal trying to merge these two worlds. The special effects used here are minimal, though Rugal agains Iuri has a decent amount of red and blue battle effects. Their battle is also quite enjoyable through tighter and faster choreography, which seems to be lacking a bit in the fight scenes involved the female fighters in this dimension, as well as Terry Bogart. The film also does a decent job at explaining some of the earlier questions of the film, such as what happened between Iuri and Kyo’s father, which explains the random martial arts scene that appeared earlier as well.

In a world where video game adaptations to feature films are running rampant, and not all films really do wellto capture the initial story they were inspired by in the first place, it’s almost refreshing to see a film like The King of Fighters really consider sticking to using the original characters from the game, trying to adapt the clothes and whatever they can from a digital medium to a format with flesh and blood actors and actresses is a real treat, unlike the entire Resident Evil film series. Really the only problems this film has is a lack of action until the last half hour, as well as some slow paced fight scenes, and that they tried to build more of a story line to it then just being the best fighter, which is something that easily could have been done here and has been done in many action films throughout the years. The whole point of including artifacts of Orochi, and having many of the fighters come together to stop Rugal’s murderous spree and quest to bring that being back is absolutely pointless, and just ends up hurting the overall experience for fans of the game series. But the film itself really isn’t that bad. Outside an already existing story line from both a game and it’s movie adaptation, The King of Fighters does make for a decent action film, and with it not really taking itself too seriously, it helps the story seem a little more plausible and enjoyable, and in the end if you can look past th more ridiculous and even unoriginal parts of the film, and some of the slow action sequences, it does become an intriguing film with some good acting and characters developed well enough that you care what’s going on, as well even can get into the story line a bit. If you’re just looking for a decent, stylish film, The King of Fighters is not really that bad a film to throw into your movie night.

Overall Score: 6.5/10

The King of FightersPhysical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.