Grim_Noir’s “Tekken” is strong

Tekken:  Blood Vengeance 3D poster

“You will believe a panda can fly!”

Okay, as taglines go, that one is pretty terrible. But we are talking about Namco’s “Tekken” here. The new CG movie “Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D,” to be specific. As a videogame series, we have see highly precise martial arts moves carried out by cyborgs, sorcerers, manimal mutants, and school girls, so “crazy” and “over-the-top” were definitely invited to this party.

This flick is IN-SANE, in the best possible sense of the word. Screenplay writer Dai Sato (“Cowboy Bebop,” “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex,” and “Samurai Champloo”) is a self-professed fan of the videogame series and he was clearly given free reign creatively. While the movie does not stop to explain anything to the uninitiated, its style of storytelling is much more anime grounded than the typical videogame cut-scene. (Think more “Jo-Jo’s Bizarre Adventure” and less “Street Fighter, The Motion Picture”)

Right off the bat, without spoiling a thing, let me warn you: There is no King of Iron Fist Tournament portrayed in the film. AND the Mishima family’s blood feud is a sub-plot, not the major plot!

Initially, we are given Anna and Nina Williams engaged in their usual sororicidal hijinks, but this is just a throwaway scene, and we quickly move to “Tekken 3”‘s schoolgirl martial artist, Ling Xiaoyu, (with her “bodyguard,” Panda) as she is blackmailed by the G Corporation to infiltrate the prestigious Kyoto International School and gather information on an apparently suicidal student named Shin Kamiya.

Shin, however, already has a stalker, in the form of “Tekken 6”‘s fembot, Alisa Bosconovich, who is working for corporate rival, Mishima Zaibatsu. Ling and Alisa have the mandatory knockdown battle before realizing they have more in common with each other than the corporations who are manipulating them. They soon agree to work together to get to the bottom of what is going on…

Panda Club ready for action!

Shin has an agenda of his own (based on an old grudge with the Mishima family), leading to a four-way rock’em, sock’em power struggle at the end of the movie.

By no means perfect, the plotline is unconventional enough and unpredictable enough that the eight-year-old Grim_Noir, deep in my psyche, was positively giddy. If I were to tell you this flick starts out as a corporate espionage caper, which quickly morphs into a Harajuku girls version of “Stand By Me,” and ends in the tradition of the best Japanese Giant Monster movies, you STILL wouldn’t expect what comes next.

Special kudos must go to 3D CGI animators Digital Frontier. Facial expressions continue to be the bane of computer-animated movies, but the action scenes are very fluid and well cut by Art-Director-turned-Director, Yoichi Mori. The 3D is very effective and nowhere near as muddy-looking as their live-action counterparts have been this summer.

“Tekken: Blood Vengeance” is designed as a bridge between the “Tekken 5” and “Tekken 6” videogames. The CG motion picture had its debut as a 3D Fathom event on July 26th, and will be shown in 2D at “Otakon” the weekend of July 29-31, 2011.  Ultimately, it will be released as part of the “Tekken: Hybrid” PS3 games+Blu-Ray package on November 22, 2011.

In the end, “Tekken: Blood Vengeance” is “The Expendables,” if that movie was an excuse to gather up well-shod Japanese pop culture tropes instead of 80s action stars. Your reaction to “The Expendables” will be based on how you felt about those 80s action stars and your reaction to “Tekken: Blood Vengeance” will depend on your love/tolerance for Japanese pop culture tropes.

* GRIM_NOIR is: A) Mad, B) Bad, C) Dangerous to Know, D) Now with 50% More Follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter


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