DVD Review – Tekken Blood Vengeance

(NOTE – The following review contains spoilers.)

When I was about 13, I remember the grueling task of saving all the pocket money I had earned washing cars and cutting the grass (we had to work for the pocket money back then!) and, whilst bursting with excitement, being taken on a small trip to my local Wooly’s to peruse the games they had on offer and, if I was very good, a possible MaccyD’s! Thanks, Mum!

At this time, PS1 had dominated the game stands, but with new and old games still reaching £20 a pop it was a high price for entertainment, although back then the iBlackHTGalaxyPad hadn’t even been conceived, and this was the height of tech at the time.

With no time wasted, I ran over and picked up Command and Conquer: Red Alert. After pinching it off a mate for so long, I felt it time to invest! However, the joyful employees noted my age and disallowed my purchase before the BBFC or ESRB or someone gave them a hefty fine for allowing a 13 year old to buy a game in which you create a mass conglomerate empire through industry and warfare.

Cue irony.

Thus I picked up a game with a few gloved clad fellows on it titled TEKKEN 2 and tried to hide my tears in the rather lame bag of Space Raiders I had bought to cheer me up. Licking my wounds, I exited the shop and with a lame crunch of crisp, I was worried my £20 may as well have been thrown on the fire, having heard nothing of this game even though I had the second one in my hand.

Blind-buying is now a thing of the past, what with reviews everywhere for everything, but there was a wonderful joy of trying to cap the game before you’d even smelt the book! (I know you did it too!)

As I flicked through the pages I became more excited and convinced that maybe the law had actually helped me make a good decision, and as quick as the front door had opened I rematerialised right next to my PlayStation, inserted the disc and spent the next 2 years beating the crap out of Jack-5.

THIS GAME WAS AWESOME! Each character you completed the game with unlocked another, but they weren’t mere ‘skins’, they were new characters, with fresh moves and fresh looks. With two players I became the envy of all, as I had studied every move and combo of Baek, King, Yoshimitsu… I’d be safe to say almost all of them. The only time I stopped playing this fighting game was when TEKKEN 3 hit the shelves and thus continued the truly epic scale of the game, with new moves, awesome graphics but such different characters. The wealth of longevity was truly enormous, not forgetting Tekken Force!

The stories become deeper and the emotions with the characters spur you to keep taking down opponent after opponent until true vengeance can be exacted and you are hailed King of Iron Fist Tournament! King and Armour King, Jin and Kazuya, Nina and Anna: the stories were developing nicely!

With PS2 came Tekken Tag Tournament and I’ll never forget me and a fellow TEKKEN friend re-propping our jaws from the crystal graphics and epicness of True Ogre beating you to death with a snake arm. Truly epic.

With BV, ‘epic’ is a good word to describe the looks of this film. After quite a strange-sounding language select screen (naughty Panda!), an easy-to-follow menu came up showcasing the beautiful CGI I was about to invest 92 minutes watching. As I pushed ‘play’, immediately I was impressed with the CG, with the female bikers patent leather suit looking supreme and the helmet may as well have been real, it was so clear. There was, however, some blurring in weird places but it didn’t take away from the great-looking focal point I was compelled to keep staring at.

After a great looking explosion our first fight scene comes in, which really is very good! Tekken equals fighting so I’m glad to see that’s what we got, and what we got was good! If I played a drinking game when each of the characters’ signature moves come up, I’d be reaching for the paracetemol to cure my head in the morning, and that’s from the first fight alone! It’s a great touch and almost rewards you like it did back in the games, when you finally nailed the 50 button combo to snap some legs and look seriously cool doing it!

The graphics never let up in the film and the scale builds well so when you get to the final fight, you are still blown away. All the way through, you knew something was growing and this did help me stay focused.

In this incarnation of the Tekken franchise, Anna Williams works for Kazuya and G-Corp while Nina works for Jin, now heading Mishima Zaibatsu and they both want ‘info’ on the target Shin Kamiya. Anna ’employs’ Ling Xiaoyu and Nina sends Alisa to get this information, keeping both companies interference minimal to each other for a brief period.

Those with knowledge of the franchise will understand Alisa’s hidden secret, although if you don’t there are tiny nuances that suggest she just ain’t quite right, which I really enjoyed as it doesn’t alienate newcomers to the show. Inevitably we do find out her secret anyway, which adds a lovely character depth and dilutes the almost over-cute and naive beginnings of the film.

Ling Xiaoyu, our protagonist, has a nice introduction involving some funny moments with Panda (who you cant help but love) and a clever link to her Chinese origin and why she’s in Japan. I get so frustrated sometimes when movies can miss little details like that, and although I suppose this didn’t need to be mentioned I was glad it was. A few cameos made me laugh, with Ganryu being a teacher; just picturing his daily life after such a violent past!

Lee makes a great appearance as a seemingly nuts teacher although we quickly deduce he’s there as a bodyguard-ish chap. Everything in his appearance is excellent and makes me chuckle as a ridiculous comic relief, as I’m sure a school won’t pay him to teach to empty classes!

Xiaoyu meets Shin in an interesting way by saving his life in a great episode of stunts, as he fancies jumping off a building, just after bumping her friend-to-be Alisa. After being bombarded by Alisa, Shin uses Xiaoyu to get away and the two have a small convocation where Shin gives a desolate speech on the man-made cities and the loss of connection humans now have with their Earth.

The story unfolds as you would think: the two girls both fall for Shin but, being enemies, they resort to violence after Shin is taken captive. With Alisa unmasked as an android prepped for battle, we see the crux of the show is about humans and their visceral desire to destroy and this behaviour recreated in androids, although Xiaoyu’s feelings ‘reprogram’ Alisa, and with emotion overriding her programming, the two escape together.

Xiaoyu becomes more and more upset at the thought of the bloodshed, and we start seeing nice character development with a lovely moment between her and Alisa, where Xiaoyu compares Alisa to her old refrigerator, but the metaphor is rather nice and glazes over the low tone at the time.

We have all sides of the story given to us, which can hurt the brain for a little bit, but vengeance is definitely the dish of the day. Shin is exposed as an immortal test subject harbouring the ‘M’ gene, degraded by Heihachi just to fuel Grampa Mishima’s insatiable lust for power. He acts as puppeteer with all the characters and lures them to a final showdown, and after a swift and grim demise the Mishima trio (Heihachi, Kazyua and Jin) do what they do best- beating each other senseless -and this 3 way fight is fantastic! It’s brilliantly choreographed, with the opponents not just hurting each other with punches and kicks but becoming weapons themselves when swung around like poi!

In true Tekken style, destruction is everywhere and again it looks epic! From Kyoto Tower being diced to bits with chainsaws, bullets flying through bed linen or half the earth opening up, it looks superb and makes me jealous of the people who’ve seen the 3D viewing of BV, but the final fight just capped this film off perfectly!

It was huge and destructive and beautiful. Colour is never something usually linked with decimation but here it works perfectly. After the devil gene takes hold, Kazuya and Jin look supreme (and I am right now scouting the Internet to see if figures will be made). Alisa runs into the fight to oppose Jin and Kasyua using their demonic forms, but Jin shuts her down and she is swiftly halved by Kazyua, which tugs the heart strings as Xiaoyu cries in grief.

This film just keeps growing until Heihachi uses an ancient tomb of Mokojin spirits to destroy our female leads, but not before they talk of their discovery that humans can have an emotional bond with their surroundings and Panda rather heroically protecting the girls.

A little cornily, Xiaoyu’s tears re-awaken Alisa and reprises an earlier thought shared with Panda about superhero moves being given names; she aids devil Jin in Heihachi’s demise, but at the price of her shutting down.

Jin warns Xiaoyu he will be waiting for her should she come to challenge him, but leaves her with a parting gift in reviving Alisa, before flying off past markings in the hill side which scream of the kanji symbol ‘HON’, meaning ‘origin’, very apt for the speech Xiayou gives on robots believing in humans and the Mokojin’s belief that humans do have a bond to the earth that birthed them.

The story is nice and has an intricate feel, but it’s not really groundbreaking. The vile undertone of the experiments on Shin are met with naivety and cutesy competition between the two girls but it sets a great plateau for some wonderful CGI and truly enjoyable fight scenes; I, however, would’ve liked a few more, and was always waiting for Jack to arrive, which didn’t happen. Shin wasn’t used to his full potential and the character feels anticlimactic, with the Mishima Trio hogging the stage. That said, I did really enjoy the film. The naive and cheesy beginning can be forgiven for the good ending, but the sequel potential in the script was very overdone. It will definitely help knowing the series, but if you don’t a few watches will have you knowing what’s going on and fans will be lightly rewarded. The fight scenes give the film a nice revising but the naive and corny beginnings may get old quick. Great for high-class graphics fans and not a bad addition to the Tekken universe.

Jimi Hart.

Tekken Blood Vengeance is available on DVD from Monday 6th February 2012. Order it at Amazon UK HERE.

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