Much as I’ve loved the various incarnations of the Tekken games over the years, there’s always a certain amount of trepidation when a game gets a movie adaptation: the record for these things isn’t good. Tekken: Blood Vengeance manages to at least avoid the major traps, though, to turn out to be something half-decent…
What They Say:
Prepare yourself for a severe case of eye candy overload courtesy of director Youichi Mouri’s brand new, full-length CG feature film, Tekken: Blood Vengeance.Scripted by the hugely talented Dai Sato, whose impressive list of previous writing credits includes “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Eden Of The East”, “Casshern” and “Samurai Champloo”, Tekken: Blood Vengeance is a visually stunning work of CG animation that brings together sexy ass-kicking heroes and heroines, winged mutant monsters, awesome mecha weaponry, bone-crunching martial arts action, a super-hot android and a panda (yes, a panda!) in one explosive package of mind-blowing entertainment.
Audio is provided in English, French, Italian, and the original Japanese, all four being in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. I listened to the Japanese track for this review, and it’s a fairly impressive mix, with good use of available channels for placement of dialogue and effects, and plenty of oomph present during the fight scenes. There were no obvious encoding problems. No complaints from me…
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect, and being a recent production it looks the part. Colours are bright and vibrant, there’s plenty of detail in pretty much everything (thank to the use of CG throughout the movie), and animation is nice and smooth throughout. There were no apparent encoding problems.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Loading the disc presents you with a grunting Panda, offering the option of four language options for the disc menus: French, English, Italian and Dutch. No prizes for guessing which one I chose. Picking a language then brings you to the main menu, which is done in what seems to be Kaze’s house style: a montage of clips from the movie running in the background, with Start, language options, and chapter selections available along the bottom of the screen. There are no submenus or transition animations, which makes it all quick and easy to use. Worth noting that the available language options on the main menu are limited to the menu language or Japanese, and on my PS3 at least the switch-audio button was locked out; if for some reason you want to use the other European languages, you’ll need to select the relevant language on load.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When two conflicting organizations, the Mishima Zaibatsu and G Corporation, begin a search for the host of a mysterious M gene, believed to be a key to immortality, they each employ one of two sisters, Nina and Anna Williams, fearsome assassins with a bitter rivalry between them. The gene is thought to be carried by a high school student name Shin Kamiya, which prompts G Corp operative Anna to enlist a female student, Ling Xiaoyu, to make contact with Shin and spy on him. Meanwhile, Nina, working for Mishima Zaibatsu, has sent an android, Alisa Bosconovitch, into the fray. As the shocking details regarding Shin’s past come to light, Xiaoyu and Alisa, originally enemies, become unlikely allies in a fierce battle against their respective employers’ corrupt covert forces and, ultimately, the devastating forces of an ancient evil.
Two ways to look at this, really: as a standalone movie, in which case you’re looking at how good the story & action are; and as an extended piece of fanservice, in which case you have to add how well the characters have translated, and what else has been done to keep fans of Character A happy while they’re watching the movie. Having been playing Tekken (with limited success – I’m a button masher and prod of it) since the original PlayStation incarnation way back when, I’d like to think I’m reasonably well-placed to comment on both. But one thing at a time
The movie is CG-animated, in similar style to Appleseed or Vexille – although quality of animation seems to have come on a little since then, thankfully. In those movies, human characters were on the edge of the ‘uncanny valley’ in feeling not quite right, but since we’re dealing with game characters here that get a slightly more cartoony visual style, it works a lot better this time around. The CG has also been used to good effect to create some very nice backgrounds and settings, which make to movie very easy on the eyes (and I’d have to admit that focussing heavily on the female characters doesn’t do the movie any harm on that front, either).
With the plot centred on the machinations of the Mishima family, there’s a clear tie-in with the setting of the games, and the rivalry between Mishima Xaibatsu and G Corporation gives a good excuse for the confrontations that the movies – although it’s thankfully not just a parade of set-piece battles, which is what I’d been expecting, given the games are based on a “tournament”. Instead, there’s a decent amount of scene-setting, a storyline that while far-fetched at least makes sense, and plenty of opportunity between the fight sequences for the characters to sit down a reflect on events or just have a little fun.
As the ‘stars’ of the show, Xiaoyu and Alisa rightly get most of the focus, with their journey from rivals to close friends being at least as important to the movie’s appeal as the events and people they’re having to investigate. On the level of an action-movie, then, it works pretty well – some background information on the Tekken setting would certainly come in useful, but it wouldn’t be essential to enjoy the movie. It’s nothing complex or spectacular, but it’s entertaining stuff and a good popcorn movie to waste an hour and a half with. Thumbs up on that front.
Bring in the “fanservice”, then. Tekken‘s roster of characters has grown massively over the years – but there are very few of them who get a look-in here. Many aren’t featured at all, a few others get very brief cameo appearances; but you can count the ones who get significant appearances on your fingers. The ones who do, fortunately, lived up well to the mental images I had from playing them, and what little glimpses of their personalities that you get to see in the games.
The fight scenes also do a good job of capturing the feel of the game’s battles, with recognizable use of signature moves and the odd combo move here or there having me sit forward to see what I could recognize (shame they couldn’t sneak in a tag battle, but you can’t have everything). There is fun to be had from that, if you know what you’re looking for.As for all the characters who didn’t make the cut – some of my own personal favourites didn’t feature, but I’m not bitter. With a roster the size of Tekken‘s, squeezing in appearances for everyone to make sure no fans felt slighted was never going to work, there would’ve been no time left for plot. The right decisions have been made on that front.
As I said at the beginning, game adaptations are very hit-and-miss affairs. Tekken: Blood Vengeance turns out to be one of the better ones, in its own mindless, popcorn-entertainment way – with fairly impressive visuals and a plot that’s at least had some thought put into it, it beat any expectations I had when I first put the disc in the player. It’s not going to set the world alight, but it’s worth a look at least.
Japanese Language 5.1, English Language 5.1, French Language 5.1, Italian Language 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Italian Subtitles, Dutch Subtitles.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK / Kaze UK
Release Date: February 6th, 2012
Running Time: 92 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37” widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-22 5.1 speaker system.