Martial arts films have earned themselves a sub-standard reputation over the years, despite occasional quality films surfacing now and then. They’re typically aimed at hormonal young men and feature erotic dancers, heavy doses of violence and a predictable, minimal plot.
The Tekken franchise is based on Bandai Namco’s popular fight video game and comprises numerous spin-off games, an anime series and now two films. This latest entry in the franchise is a prequel to the first movie, making it accessible to new audiences who are not familiar with the characters and mythology.
The original was set in the year 2039 after a world war has destroyed almost everything. Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge is set not too much earlier, centring around the character Kazuya Mishima, played by Kane Kosugi (taking over the role originated by Ian Anthony Dale).
Soon after waking with amnesia, Kazuya is kidnapped by the crime lord known only as The Minister (Rade Serbedzija) who forces him into being an assassin. In attempting to break free of The Minister’s hold over him, Kazuya is devastated to discover his true identity.
Returning in cameo roles from the first film are Gary Daniels as Bryan Fury, the assassin that escaped, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as overlord Heihachi.
Passionate game players may be none-too-pleased at the host of new characters taking precedence over known figures from the games, but general fans of martial arts films should enjoy this well-paced flick overall. The acting is of a higher standard than often expected within this genre and Director Wych Kaosayananda does a fine job pacing the fights and drama. Unlike its origins, Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge chooses to tell a tale without a tournament and Kosugi carries the action with ease.
There’s two main issues with Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge, neither of which are game changers but are notable enough to warrant mention. First, the international cast of characters offers one of the biggest range of accents heard in a single film, making it very easy to be distracted playing “name that accent”. A tournament situation would sensibly have an international flavour, but as a film set in the slums of a single city, there seems little logic to it, particularly to this extent.
The second problem is the fight sequences themselves. Most are executed well. They’re fast paced with some impressive martial arts moves to make you go “wow!” but none stand out from any other. Each sequence uses similar choreography and there is no effort to distinguish the fighting styles and skills of each opponent. Thankfully none of the sequences are drawn out beyond their welcome, with most being short and snappy so the plot can move forward.
Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge is, ultimately, a standard but decent entry into the action movie genre, so long as you’re not caught up in the Tekken gaming world.
Both the Blu-ray and DVD releases include the bonus feature Behind the Scenes of Tekken.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 7
Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge is available from today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.