The King of Fighters (UK - BD)
Chris takes one for the team with this review of the movie based on the game
When a Boston museum hosts a private unveiling of three priceless relics; the Kagura Mirror, the Yagami Necklace and the Kusanagi Sword, no one is prepared for the shocking events that follow.
Folklore tells that when the ancient relics are placed together, they become incredibly powerful and are capable of opening a portal to another dimension where the mystical entity known as the Orochi resides. Legend has it that whoever controls the Orochi will become invincible.
The beautiful Maggie Q ( Nikita, Priest) stars as Mai Shiranui, an undercover cop tasked with solving the mystery of the Orochi whose plans are thrown into disarray when evil genius Rugal Bernstein, played by Ray Park ( G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra), steals the relics. When Mai’s boyfriend Iori Yagami , played by Will Yun Lee ( Hawaii Five-0), discovers the Kusanagi sword has been left behind, she finds herself plunged head first into the action.
Mai is forced to enter the other dimension to battle Rugal and prevent him from merging the fighters’ tournament with the real world. As the battle against Rugal escalates, the cast undertake some out-of-this-world martial arts action as they karate kick their way through the fight of a lifetime. (Taken from the press release).
When I was a lad I, before the death of the arcades and the advent of systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360, I lusted after the Neo Geo. SNK's outrageously (for the time) powerful and expensive games console was streets ahead of the machines most of us had, offering huge storage capacity and arcade-quality visuals and audio (in fact, it actually was an arcade system). One of the most popular games on the system was Fatal Fury, a Street Fighter II-style beat-em-up that spawned numerous sequels and a spin-off series called King of Fighters. By now I'm sure you've figured out that this film is based on that series, but you're probably wondering where it falls on the 'terrible movie adaptation of a decent game' scale. Well, there's a depressing inevitability to the answer: at the very lowest end.
The King of Fighters is undoubtedly the worst film I've seen this year. Honestly, all hyperbole aside I cannot remember watching something worse, not even on late-night TV. It's not even one of those 'so bad it's good' affairs, it's just plain bad. The script is a complete mess, throwing us into the action with little to no explanation and never really recovering from there. Acting is woeful across the board, even from star Maggie Q, who has been pretty good in some of her roles, but Darth Maul himself, Ray Park, takes it to another level. Never mind the 'King of Fighters', I can only assume he was aspiring to the title 'King of Shitty Actors'.
The characters bear little to no resemblance to the videogame; in a staggeringly offensive move the son of a Japanese man is played by a Caucasian actor. Not a mixed race actor, a 'couldn't look more white' actor. There's also a completely random and throwaway soft-core lesbian scene between two of the fighters that just screams desperation. Speaking of the fighters, well they enter the alternate dimension by way of Bluetooth headsets. Yes, you read that right. I know it's a low-budget film, but come on. Add to that some appalling editing, boring fight choreography and some pretty weak special effects (the evil demon thing is represented by a ball of glowing snakes) and you have a disc that, for once, I was only too happy to send back to the distributor.
The King of Fighters limps onto Blu-ray with a 2.40:1 (1080/24p AVC) encode that does the job, but is unlikely to set the world alight. For the first half of the film the visuals are bland, which doesn't give the BD a lot to work with, but during the latter stages the action is more varied and colourful. It's then that the palette comes alive with some nice, bright primaries that really pop off of the screen. Contrast is very flat and there are some less than inky blacks on display, while detail is unimpressive and textures mushy. I was actually surprised to read that the film was shot using Red One cameras, because I've seen much better results from that particular piece of hardware ( District 9, The Social Network). I was also very surprised to see what appeared to be compression artefacts during a number of scenes (see the first screen capture), as that's not something that happens frequently on BD. It's not the worst looking disc I've ever seen, but it's far from the best (I knocked a point off for the compression issues).
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is on a par with the visuals, which is to say perfectly functional if uninspiring. One big positive is the intelligibility of the dialogue - something that's not always a given nowadays - with the terrible delivery of every execrable line rendered very clearly. Surrounds are used sparingly for ambient and spot effects, with the score getting most of the attention, but there's very little in the way of discrete action at either end of the soundstage. Bass is almost non-existent, even during the fight sequences where it would really have helped to beef up the lacklustre brawls. The music has some weight to it, but not much. It's the very definition of 'meh'.
A trailer (01:32 HD) and a promo spot (02:01 SD) are all that Universal could be bothered to muster up for this one. The trailer is probably the preferred way to watch the film, but the quality of the promo's video is abysmal and the content uninteresting.
I've already made my feelings about the movie known above, so I won't bang on about it again for too long, but any film that's worse than Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li should be given a wide birth. I'm not really sure who Universal thinks the target audience for this film is. It's poorly scripted, badly acted, the fights are weak, and the effects lame. The only reason I've awarded it a solitary mark is for Maggie Q and Bernice Liu's rather luscious appearance, so consider that a point for chauvinism. As for the Blu-ray itself, well it's a decidedly average affair. Average video, average audio and, well, actually below-average extras. So, a crap film on a perfunctory disc. Don't all rush at once!
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 26th December 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: Dutch, English, French
Extras: Trailer, Promo Spot
Easter Egg: No
Director: Gordon Chan
Cast: Maggie Q, Sean Faris, Ray Park, Will Yun Lee, Bernice Liu, Monique Ganderton, Françoise Yip, David Leitch
Genre: Action and Fantasy
Length: 93 minutes
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