Animation · Anime · Movies

Quick review – Tekken: Blood Vengeance (3D)

I just watched the one night only screening of Tekken: Blood Vengeance. There are so many reasons why I shouldn’t have gone: it’s all CGI; it’s in 3D; it’s based on a fighting tournament video game franchise; and I should be reading the latest book from The Dresden Files book that was released today. I won’t discuss the plot, except to say there is actually some semblance of one. First off, I won’t mention the spoilers. Second, if you are a fan of the franchise, then you already know more than me, so I won’t insult your intelligence. So I am completely stunned when it turns out that this is clearly the best 3D, CGI animated film based on a video game ever.

I am impressed with the writing of Dai Soto. After looking at his body of work, I guess I should not be surprised. He avoids all the pitfalls of movies based on video games – the fighting tournament, the cameo-fest inclusion of every character; (thank god; there are 44 characters in this franchise – there is no way to squeeze all of them into a 90-minute movie;) and overlong plot dumps. However, by avoiding all of the fighting games clichés, T:BV delves into the tropes of every other anime genre. It is a level of frustration that just can not be avoided.

Since this a Namco Bandai franchise, it is no surprise that the English dub was handled by Bandai Entertainment’s favorite dub studio, Bang Zoom! Entertainment. This is not Bang Zoom’s finest hour, but then again, they have set a fairly high standard. It’s damning praise to say this is the best dub of a CGI film, since every other CGI dub has been dreadful.

The 3D visuals are absolutely stunning. The fight sequences made my head spin. At first I was disappointed that this was not a non-stop, 90 minute melee, but I don’t think my head could have handled that. I have to settle for one scene of awesomeness followed by one or two scenes of overindulgence. Overall, I am glad I got the 3D experience. The film will lose some of its magic during the transfer to DVD.

It is no surprise that the entire point of the film is to sell the upcoming video games (three, to be precise). If you play the games, then this is a must-see. The question is will non-gamers like myself sit through a ninety minute commercial? The answer is a surprisingly yes. Knowledge of the Tekken storyline is not mandatory in order to enjoy this film. It’s a shame that this is only in theatres for only one night (and only one showing to boot.) It will also be a shame if it only bundled with the video games, and not sold on its own. It would probably lose some of its luster when viewed in 2D on a TV screen. My score is based on a big screen, 3D viewing. And my grade for Tekken:Blood Vengeance is a very respectable B-. Despite its flaws, there are so many crowning moments of awesome that should entertain the non-video game fans out there.

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One thought on “Quick review – Tekken: Blood Vengeance (3D)

  1. As a fan of the games, of anime, and of movies in general, I have to say I was dissapointed on every level. Despite beautiful visuals and effective use of 3D the story is slow and insipid. The voice-over work is alternatively grating, distracting, or unintentionally hilarious. This is the first movie I’ve been to in years where the audience repeatedly laughs at the awfulness on display. (Including a moment when a girl arches her back with a lengthy “NOOOOOOOOO”).

    Despite a rousing start the movie quickly dives in “safe” storytelling mode, turning a franchise based on martial arts tournaments into a spy-detective-high-school snoozefest. Few of the many, many characters from the games are utilized, instead focusing on a pair of annoying, overly sweet, and too-earnest girls.

    What little momentum the story manages to gain is suddenly and abruptly ended at the start of the story’s final chapter. It makes the prior 60 minutes pretty much null and void, and makes the viewer wonder why so much time was wasted on such a pointless build-up.

    The finale is, at least, a visual treat and a real teaser for what the show could have been. At least, it is until the combatants start to go “super-saiyan” and the whole things starts to truly go off the rails.

    Tekken also suffers being unable to find a suitable tone. Far, far too much screen time is wasted on characters being serious and staring off into the middle-distance. There are moments when things become playful, and again, these moments point to what could have been a far, far better movie.

    While there are a few moments of competence, I could not recommend this movie to anyone with a clear conscience. This mess is set to repeat on blu-ray shortly (In Tekken Hybrid for the PS3). Do yourself a favor and stay far away!

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