After the critical success of Street Fighter II: The Movie, the producers from Nakamura Animation must have felt it was imperative that they make an animated feature (or it's a two-piece OVA if you go by the subs) based on yet another popular fighting game franchise and that is Tekken. One time when I had encountered this little piece and considering I'm somewhat of a Tekken fan, I held some high expections but boy did it fail to live up to them and more!
Apparently, this feature is based on the first two games of the franchise but there's no clear direction of where it's going at (especially if you're not familiar with Tekken). Sure, there's the Iorn Fist Tournament and Kazuya Mishima seeking revenge against his father (Heihachi Mishima) for throwing him off the cliff but there's also a bunch of (mostly)pointless sub-plots thrown into the mix such as Jack and Lei Wulong heading underground to reach Dr. Boskonovitch for a cure to Jane's illness, Nina and Anna Williams fighting for Lee Chaolon's affection, and Lee secretly having his scientists release his experiements to stop the participates of the Iorn Fist Tournament (for reasons I don't know or don't care). To be fair, this clusterfuck of a narrative does have a message to send to the viewers but it seems more interested in telling you it rather than showing you it. Very big mistake indeed, as it pretty much beats you over the head with it (via Jun Kazama) and the message falls flat. Doesn't help that the message itself isn't all that powerful to begin with, it can all pretty much be summed up as: "Do not act upon negative emotions!"
No matter, for a fighting ainme the plot is a secondary priority and I can name plenty of anime with terrible plotlines but make up having decent fight scenes (M.D Geist comes to mind, but just barely...) so being an animated feature that based on a highly-acclaimed fighting game franchise you'd think the fighting be good, right?
Why? Because when they actually are fighting it's almost always either too short, the flow of action would be disrupted by a said pointless sub-plot, or it would consist only of simple punches, kicks, and uppercuts. It's quite a shame really since Tekken has some of the more diverse fighting mechanics out there, basing each and every character moves directly on real-life techniques and that really could have the movie's saving grace but it ends up being nothing more than another extravagance.
This is sadly the best aspect of the movie. The animation, while not awful, isn't anything to brag about. The movements are sharp but for an aniamted feature that came out in 1998 (4 years after something as gorgeous-looking as Street Fighter II: The Movie, let I mind you), it's very static and the art is fugly especially on Kazuya (I know his original design has bushy eyebrows but they're not THAT bushy). It doesn't push any limits, it's all standard TV anime show flair.
I've only seen the english version of the movie so my opinion here might be skewed but since any english subbed version is extremely hard to come across, I'm judging it by the dub. The voices themselves are passable but the acting is really phoned-in, and the soundtrack is inappropiate to the mood of pretty much each and every scene. It's like an AMV gone wrong. There's even a song by the Offsprings playing at an otherwise light-hearted moment.
For being based on a franchise that has a sizeable amount of characters (even back at the days), less than half play an active role so anyone who's a fan of those who aren't Kazuya Mishima, Heihachi Mishima, Jun Kazama, Lei Wulong, Nina Willaims, Anna Willaims, Lee Chaolan, Michelle Chang, and Jack will be sorely disappointed by seeing their favorite characters having only brief camaos or not even being acknowledged at all by this movie. The characters that did make the cut are essentially dumbed-down cardboard cutouts. Kazuya is the cold brooding type, Lei is the wise-cracking comedian, Jack is the gentle giant, Lee is a playboy, and as for Jun, she's not a even character as so much as a preachy plot-device and when I say preachy, I mean VERY PREACHY!!
The skinny is that this movie is a decieving piece of shit although I still wouldn't go as far to say it's bottom-of-the-barrel trash because it at least tries to be more than just a mindless punch-a-thon but the execution is sloppy.
Do I recommend it? I can't recommend it to anyone (except maybe for a giggle or two at the cringe-worthy plot details). It fails to provide a compelling story, it fails to entertain as a fighting anime, and more importantly it fails to satisify even the most hardcore of Tekken fans.
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