Main cast: Sean Faris (Kyo Kusanagi), Maggie Q (Mai Shiranui), Will Yun Lee (Iori Yagami), David Leitch (Terry Bogard), Françoise Yip (Chizuru Kagura), Monique Ganderton (Mature), Bernice Liu (Vice), and Ray Park (Rugal Bernstein)
Director: Gordon Chan
Watching King of Fighters is akin to gaping at a bunch of people rubbing poo on their own faces in a fit of madness. I can’t help but to cringe inside because I know everyone involved in this movie is going to be so embarrassed when they sober up and realize that this movie is even more humiliating than having a drunken one-night stand with Richard Simmons and having the sordid event broadcasted online.
Movies based on video games are generally awful, mostly because while people shooting fireballs and jumping fifty feet into the air may seem exciting in an animated affair, these same things always look too stupid for words when they feature actual people doing these nonsense. Maybe the movie can pull it off with a budget equivalent to the GDP of the entire third world nations on Earth, but this movie seems to be produced on a budget that is about $10 higher than your typical pornographic flick. The clothes look like they were salvaged from bargain bins of the cheapest stores in town, and the “special effects” look like something a special effects intern has created while under the influence.
As for the plot, this one involves some stupid inter-dimensional tournament started by Rugal Bernstein for some stupid reason, and our triumvirate of dumb, Mai Shiranui, Kyo Kusanagi, and Iori Yagami are involved. Terry Bogard tags along too. And sorry, guys, Vice and Mature never get to make out with each other, if that is what you are expecting. This movie is already doomed from the start as it attempts to create all these scenes that require CGIs that cost far too much than its obvious shoestring budget will allow, but it does itself no favors by delivering a humorless and dour movie. If it had been outrageously cheesy and campy, it may end up being some kind of cult classic like the marvelously horrific Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Street Fighter: The Movie. Alas, this movie is just one awful miscalculation after another.
There is poor acting, as everyone involved behaves as if they had been forcibly recruited to be in the movie because the producers threaten to distribute videos of them doing something nasty with animals or dead people.
And then there is hilarious casting. The adult Kyo is played by Sean Faris, who looks nowhere Japanese, but the younger Kyo is played by a distinctly Japanese kid. Don’t ask me what happened – maybe there had been liberal amounts of cosmetic surgeries during the adolescent years. Mai Shiranui was a peripheral character in the game, well known for having an unrealistically large pair of jugs, and here she is played by Maggie Q, whose respectable bosom however comes nowhere close to the video game character’s. It is as if this movie wanted to be hated by fans of the video games. And don’t get me started about Rugal, who was supposed to be a handsome and distinctive tall villain, only to be played by Ray Parks, who is not exactly handsome or even tall. And why does Terry Bogard look like a crackhead?
Even better, there is awful battle scene choreography. It’s pretty obvious that blows exchanged never actually come into contact with a body, and the fighters seem to be exchanging mild taps rather than actual forceful blows. Oh, and apart from Iori showing some awful CGI’ed purple flames late in the movie, the characters here don’t use fighting styles that are distinctive of their video game counterparts. Mai doesn’t use flaming fan attacks, Kyo uses a sword (really) instead of burning fists, and Vice and Mature use tonfas. Seriously, this movie is begging to be hated by fans of the video games. Maybe this whole thing is an exercise in self-loathing.
King of Fighters is just overall awful that it really begets the question as to why nobody had considered pulling the plug on this nonsense midway into production. Surely they could see how horrifying the end result would be, right?