If there’s one thing that gamers can agree upon, it’s that movies based on video games….well, they’re not that good – and that’s putting it charitably. Indeed, I’ve often made the joke that there’s a parallel universe in the cosmos where video game movies are killing it, and it’s the comic book adaptations that are still stuck in the gutter! However, while it should be noted that the filmography of that cinematic genius Uwe Boll is singlehandedly dragging the entire genre’s batting average down, something else we can’t lose sight of is the fact that, hard as it may be to believe, there ARE good and even great video game movies out there, and most of them tend to be the ones adapted from fighting games. Naturally, that can only mean one thing: time to list off the best fight sequences found in the best video game movie adaptations. So, strap in and keep a joystick by your side, readers – this is KFK’s list of the Top 10 Video Game Movie Fights…in descending order…
- The Assassin’s Revolt – “Assassin’s Creed“
- Jin Kazama vs Bryan Fury – “Tekken”
- Johnny Cage vs Baraka – “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”
- Cyrax and Sektor vs a cybernetic enemy – “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”: Season One
- Johnny Cage and Kitana vs Mileena – “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”: Season Two
- Charlie Nash vs Ryu and Ken – “Street Fighter: Resurrection“
- Liu Kang vs Shang Tsung – “Mortal Kombat”
- Ryu vs Ken – “Street Fighter: Legacy”
- Liu Kang vs Reptile – “Mortal Kombat”
With its combination of edge-of-your-seat martial arts and parkour action and truly heart-stopping stunt work that leaves you genuinely amazed that no one died making the film, 2016’s “Assassin’s Creed” is the “Mad Max: Fury Road” of video game movies. With the Abstergo Foundation determined to uncover the Apple of Eden and all the power that comes with it, it’s up to the Assassin’s Creed to keep the Apple out of their hands, and after assimilating the memories and skills of his ancient ancestor, Callum Lynch is ready to lead them into battle. After the 90 minutes of insane wall-scaling and gravity-defying parkour preceding it, is where the film gives its victory lap with its most basic and visceral fight sequence. The whole film is so packed to the gills with this kind of glorious butt-kicking that pinning down its finest hour is thoroughly difficult, but as the culmination of the wild ride that is the entire film, the Assassin’s revolt takes the cake!
Fighters do battle for the ultimate prize in the King of Iron Fist tournament, but for Jin Kazama, he’s only out to avenge the murder of his mother, and Bryan Fury stands in his way. Stuntman Jon Foo had previously lent his skills to Jackie Chan‘s “The Myth” and Tony Jaa‘s “Tom Yum Goong“, and would later appear as Ryu in “Street Fighter: Legacy”, while Gary Daniels is well known to martial arts fans for his appearances in films like “Fist of the North Star”, “Bloodmoon“, and “The Expendables”. While “Tekken” goes about fifty-fifty in terms of adhering to the lore of its source material, it certainly delivers as a martial arts tournament flick. Under the direction of Dwight H. Little, auteur of Brandon Lee’s “Rapid Fire, with fight choreography from Cyril Raffaelli of “Kiss of the Dragon” and “District 13” fame, “Tekken” stands out from the usually lousy pack of video game movies, and Jin’s iron-fisted showdown with Bryan Fury is most definitely the film’s crowning action achievement.
One of the most revolutionary aspects of the internet age and of YouTube more specifically, is that it’s given a platform for fans and filmmakers alike to pitch exactly how they would do justice to their favourite intellectual properties. After over a decade since we last saw the tournament for the fate of Earthrealm, 2010’s “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” came out of the blue to do exactly that with a darker tone more akin to a “Saw” movie and all the blood and guts of its console-based namesake. The original “Mortal Kombat” may have dialed back the violence for the sake of a PG-13 rating, which was probably the wiser approach to take in the mid-nineties, but the gloves came right off with “Rebirth”. The short does re-imagine many of the core aspects of the “Mortal Kombat” universe, but its match-up with Johnny Cage and Baraka, played by stuntmen extraordinaires Matt Mullins and Lateef Crowder, is everything MK lovers crave. A follow-up was inevitable, and it came the very next year in the form of the web-series “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”!
The pay-off from “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” arrived in 2011 in the form of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”. While 1995’s “Mortal Kombat” scaled back on emulating the kind of bloodbath that made its source material a topic of Congressional hearings, and “Rebirth” took the gloves off, “Legacy” went a step further and put on gloves that had been wrapped in barbed wire! Despite that, this is where Season One sees the least amount of bloodshed, but that doesn’t make it any less brutal than the preceding episodes. The final episode of Season One focuses on Lin Kuei’s two cybernetic Kombatants, Cyrax and Sektor, and there can be absolutely no doubt that a fight sequence has ever had to ADR this much clanging in its soundtrack. Be sure to also watch out for an appearance from the late Darren Shahlavi in this episode, having earlier appeared in the season in the role of Kano, losing an eye to Michael Jai White‘s Jaxx!
Why is it that Johnny Cage can never hold onto an expensive pair of sunglasses? First Goro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR0c0i1bCCM and now Mileena. Does no one from Outworld respect a man’s personal property?! Season two of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” takes a more “Hunger Games”-esque approach to the tournament, and Johnny gets some much-needed assistance from Edenian warrior Kitana against her bloodthirsty sister Mileena. Casper Van Dien, taking the role from Matt Mullins in season one, holds his own as the arrogant but formidable action star, while Michelle Lee makes the leap from providing motion capture for “Resident Evil 6” to the very real sai and fang of Mileena. Wushu champion Samantha Jo also stands out as Kitana and indeed, she has quite the history of portraying warrior women on-screen, from her roles as the Kryptonian soldier Car-Vex in “Man of Steel” to the Amazon Euboea in “Wonder Woman“. She’s even lent her talents to the role of Chun Li of “Street Fighter” fame for the webseries “Ultimate Fan Fights” – talk about a renaissance woman!
In the follow-up to “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist”, Charlie Nash goes out of his way to make a literally explosive entrance! Here, Ryu and Ken are Ansatsuken veterans much more adept with their Hadoukens and Shoryukens, but Charlie is clearly ready to meet them head-on with a Sonic Boom. With the then-newly released “Street Fighter V” hitting consoles around the world, Laura Matsuda, played by stuntwoman Natascha Hopkins, also makes a much quicker jump to live-action than most fictional characters ever receive. Alain Moussi of “Kickboxer: Vengeance” and its upcoming sequel “Kickboxer: Retaliation” dons the stitches and Ace Ventura-like hair of Charlie (which is more than can be said for the character’s two prior live-action incarnations) while lowering his voice to the same octave occupied by Vin Diesel’s, and gives our two heroes quite a run for the money. While filming their fight, Christian Howard accidentally kicked Alain in the throat, a mishap that also occurred during his fight with Dave Bautista in “Vengeance”, and in both cases, the take of the fortunately non-injurious accident is the one that was used in the finished film!
1995’s “Mortal Kombat” holds a special place in the hearts of gamers. After the misfires of “Super Mario Brothers” and “Street Fighter: The Movie“, “Mortal Kombat” was the first one to get it right. Sure, the film looks a bit dated by today’s standards, and it largely eschewed the blood and gore that made the game it was based on famous (and, indeed, to some degree infamous) for the sake of a PG-13 rating, but it absolutely nailed its source material core premise of a supernatural version of “Enter the Dragon“. For the finale of the first solid video game movie, Robin Shou stands tall against the king of Asian villains, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa for the fate of Earthrealm.
Where to begin with this one? The final duel starts off perfectly with each Kombatant bowing in with the “Mortal Kombat” theme, which remains the greatest soundtrack ever composed for a video game movie, one that could make the sound of an alarm clock buzzing in the morning far less of an unexpected nuisance. If you doubt this, just revisit the opening credits, which are still the greatest INTRO a video game movie has ever seen. Furthermore, the finale is where the “Enter the Dragon” influences are the most undeniable, i.e. a Shaolin Monk battling to avenge the murder of his sibling and end the evil machinations of a fellow warrior. Their duel even ends in a way that undeniably recalls Han’s death at the hands of Lee in “Enter the Dragon”, naturally following Liu Kang’s deployment of one of his special moves, of course!
While gamers had seen at least seen one decent adaptation of “Mortal Kombat”, “Street Fighter” was 0-2 in its attempts to make the leap to live-action, with only an admittedly thoroughly entertaining (and endlessly quotable) performance by the late Raul Julia as M. Bison to show for it. However, that would change overnight with the completely out of left field release of “Street Fighter: Legacy” on YouTube in May 2010. In less than three minutes, stunt veterans Joey Ansah, Jon Foo, and Christian Howard did what was previously thought to be impossible and made a solid live-action take on “Street Fighter”. Even better, what starts out as an entertaining fight sequence turns into a serious “Holy $%^&!” moment when Ryu blasts off a Hadouken, only to be followed with Ken’s fist bursting into flames as he lands a Shoryuken on his friend while soaring thirty feet into the air. This fan film was not only one of the best video game adaptations of its time, but by far, the best live-action take on “Street Fighter” the world had ever seen – until the follow-up, “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist” came along four years later to take that crown!
After “Mortal Kombat” finished filming, the producers decided the film needed a bit more action, and thus, what many fans consider the best fight sequence of the film came about in the form of Liu Kang’s pulse-pounding smackdown with the humanoid warrior Reptile in the realm of Outworld. With the popularity of the “Mortal Kombat” games, Liu Kang proved a tough role to nail down, with Jason Scott Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Russel Wong, and Phillip Rhee all taking a shot at it, and in his star-making appearance in the film, Robin Shou proved himself worthy to tackle the role of Earthrealm’s defender and the champion of Mortal Kombat. For the man (a term we use loosely in Reptile’s case) to oppose our hero, Keith Cooke makes Reptile such a worthy opponent that you can’t help but wish he was in more of the movie. And, of course, Liu Kang gets to breakout his famed bicycle kick, one of his most beloved manoeuvres from the games!
And finally, in at the No.1 Video Game Movie Fight is….
Ryu vs Ken – “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist“
If you’re looking for the literal inverse of every negative stereotype of video game movies, “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist” is where you’ll find it. Even fans of the source material were stunned at the level of depth and emotional content creators Joey Ansah and Christian Howard were able to evoke here; had Akira Kurosawa not been gone for nearly two decades, one would have a pretty decent shot at convincing the unsuspecting that “Assassin’s Fist” was a part of his filmography. For the climax of the series, Ryu and Ken, played by Mike Moh (replacing Jon Foo from “Legacy”) and Christian Howard, go toe-to-toe in a duel of superhuman warriors that requires far less suspension of disbelief than viewers would ever have imagined. The two hours of Ansatsuken training undergone by our heroes leading up it makes the kind of outlandish martial arts of the “Street Fighter” universe seem incredibly plausible. The fact that Mike and Christian are practically a couple of living “Street Fighter” characters themselves certainly doesn’t hurt either!
So there we have it folks, KFK’s picks for the Top 10 Video Game Movie Fights! Did any of your faves make the list? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and while you’re here, check out our other martial arts’ Top 10’s!