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The King of Fighters (2010)

October 10, 2011

Hello all. Mark here.

The King of Fighters sounds really bad. However, after John’s review I want to watch it. I dig bad fighting movies based on video games. They always make me laugh.

By John Leavengood

MY CALL:  It’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice meets a wannabe Mortal Kombat and Ray Parks goes all “precious”-craving Gollum.  I’d skip it.  [C]  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  I mention several other movies in this review.  All of them, including Balls of Fury, have better action than this.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  If this did it for you then you’re probably younger and more interested in the girls’ outfits than the violence.  So I’d direct you to something like DOA. Maybe check out Tekken, as well.

DISCLAIMER:  This is based on a video game that I have never heard of.  However, I love any seriously done tournament-style martial arts movie. Just forgive me if I ignore statements as to whether or not certain game characters were done justice.

So, as I was saying, this is about some non-lethal tournament in which the fighters get summoned—with all of the notice of a 911 page to a doctor on call—to an alternate dimension for battle.  The fighters beam into this Matrix-y alternate dimension by way of some Bluetooth-like earpiece which is fueled by three ancient artifacts (owned by three different clans).  Legend has it that if one man was to possess all three that he could be granted limitless power.  So naturally they are displayed in the open air behind no protective barriers at some fund-raiser with minimal floor security and the first guy who comes along (Rugal, played by Ray Parks) succeeds in a kind of smash-and-grab job often delegated to dim-witted street thugs.  Rugal then changes the tournament into a more deadly game to serve his dreams of tyranny…or something.  His ambitions really aren’t clear.

The combat is nothing awesome, but serviceable and occasionally filmed decently enough such that the viewer can see what’s going on in the fight.  There are even a few impressive acrobatic moments—but they by no means redeem this movie or make it rent-worthy.  The set design of the combat dimension is not terribly innovative, which is a shame because that’s what gives a movie like this its flavor.  But the overall production value is good, the acting is reduced by overly simplistic dialogue (no shock there), and I doubt I’ll regret watching this.

Ray Parks (The Phantom Menace, Ecks vs Sever) and the always lovely Maggie Q (Live Free of Die Hard, MI:III, Balls of Fury) are horribly underutilized.  In fact, it’s a shame they didn’t do the action direction and choreography themselves.   I imagine they were upset when they saw their fight scenes for the first time.  The finale is some terrible mach-up of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and later installments of the Mortal Kombat movie franchise.

An Anime-haired Sean Faris (Never Back Down), a Maggie Q shower scene, a very PG lesbian locker room scene, and the women’s wardrobe suggests that this was made for teenagers who would sooner rent this on a Friday night rather than going out and actually talking to real live girls.

Here’s a trailer with some actor/director interview commentary.

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