When you think about good adaptations of fighting games, you wouldn’t think Tekken would have any decent offerings. Well… You’re sort of right… Tekken has more than one adaptation under its belt with a couple of them being worth a watch, the right, not so much.
With Tekken 8 and its story possibly coming to a close just around the corner, we’re doing a quick series of reviews of the Tekken movie and TV adaptations, checking how they hold up years after they were produced. Do these movies stand the test of time, or get extremely dated like playing Tekken 1 on the PlayStation? Only our reviews will tell.
Title: Tekken: The Motion Picture
Production Company: ASCII Corporation and Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Written by: Ryōta Yamaguchi
Release date: January 21, 1998
Running time: 60 Minutes
Rating: Australia: M / United Kingdom: 15 / United States: Unrated
Created at the same time that Tekken 3 was released, Tekken: The Motion Picture takes elements from the first 2 Tekken games (and some elements of Tekken 3) and tries to make sense of everything that has happened at a time when the story elements from the series were not that well known.
The story of Tekken: The Motion Picture takes samples from Tekken 1, with the relationship between Heihachi and Kazuya is explored to a limited point, from Kazuya’s childhood (where he meets Jun) through to the first King of the Iron Fist tournament. Jun gets entered into the tournament to investigate the Mishima Conglomerate’s possible production of Humida (Some experiments using human/alien cloning).
Through the events of Tekken: The Motion Picture we see the return of Kazuya, the bitter rivalry between Anna and Nina Williams, Lee Chaolan’s envy of being Heihachi’s adopted son, and of course, the Devil Gene in Kazuya being something that Heihachi wants to get his hands on.
We do see appearances of a lot of the Tekken 2 cast, including Bruce Irvin, Jack-2, Alex, Lei Wulong, Roger and more get some time in the spotlight mostly through fight sequences. Though the bulk of the main story revolves around Kazuya, Lee, Jun, and Heihachi; it was good to see others get some time in the spotlight too… Though King got screwed, only appearing in a group shot before the beginning of the tournament and then disappearing afterward.
Tekken: The Motion Picture is a very “1990s” anime OVA (Original Video Animation), with very detailed animation that comes with proper art done by the human hand. Yes, there is a little CGI thrown into the animation from time to time, but that was the style at the time. However, this does not take away from the art that was good proper animation of the era. The fight scenes are a special highlight, showing some fluid animation that even today’s anime cannot reproduce.
If you liked other fighting anime like Fatal Fury and Street Fighter, then you will enjoy Tekken: The Motion Picture for the campy 1990s animation that it is. If you want an accurate movie based around the Tekken franchise, then this is a good place to start before getting into the more lore-heavy options that come in the next couple of decades. However, if you just want to skim through this movie, I recommend the Fighting Game Theater version done by Matt McMuscles on his YouTube channel.
Production Company: Crystal Sky Pictures
Written by: Alan B. McElroy
Release date: November 5, 2009
Running time: 87 minutes
Rating: Australia: MA15+ / United Kingdom: 15 / United States: R
For as confusing and Mishima-focused as the main video game version of Tekken‘s story is, it is nothing compared to the live-action movie version that was released in 2009. Considered one of the worst fighting game adaptations on the market with some of the best actors involved, Tekken comes off as a missed opportunity to do a fighting game the right way given that at the time this movie came out, Tekken lore was mainstream knowledge.
Focusing around Jin Kazama, Tekken takes place in the corporate-controlled world known as Iron Fist, where corporations like Tekken, G-Corp, and others control chunks of the world (Tekken controlling America) and use the King of Iron Fist tournament to shuffle power around from company to company.
Jin and his mother Jun live in The Anvil, the slams outside Tekken City, the main capital city of the country, and the current hosts of the King of the Iron Fist tournament. Jin is an Aladdin type of character, stealing and running errands for his mother and other people in The Anvil. Jun doesn’t like Jin putting himself out in the slums and drawing attention.
Inside Tekken City, Heihachi (played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, best known as Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat live-action movie… “IT HAS BEGUN!!”) plans the latest tournament, allowing his son Kazuya to be in control of the JACK Unit, the Tekken City special security squad while the tournament is underway. Kazuya will eventually use the JACK Unit to betray Heihachi.
After the JACK Unit finds and kills Jin’s mother, Jin enters the King of the Iron Fist tournament via an Open Call event, defeating Marshall Law. Fox notices Jin’s abilities and becomes his mentor throughout the tournament. As things heat up in the tournament, Kazuya takes notice of Jin and thinks he might be his son, whom he had after a fling with Jun. So Kazuya sees Jin as a threat and attempts to make the tournament a death match tournament to kill his son, betraying his father in the process and having him killed.
In typical story fashion, Jin survives assassination attempts from the William sisters, fights against Bryan Fury, Yoshimitsu, etc, and wins the tournament, defeating his father in the process. Post credits we see Heihachi has survived and gone into hiding.
While being one of the more focused versions of the Tekken story, Tekken still comes off as sloppy and half-hearted. The acting by Heihachi and Kazuya is good, but the rest of the acting just comes off as phoned-in. Thankfully Tekken didn’t touch the Devil Gene story and made things a bit more grounded, which puts this movie above a lot of the others I’m watching for these reviews.
Title: Tekken: Blood Vengeance
Production Company: Digital Frontier
Written by: Dai Satō
Release date: July 26, 2011
Running time: 92 minutes
Rating: Australia: M / United Kingdom: 12 / United States: TV-14
Tekken: Blood Vengeance is an “Elseworlds” or alternative timeline story that is set between Tekken 5 and Tekken 6. The movie revolves around three characters, Ling Xiaoyu, AI robot Alisa Bosconovitch, and 100% new character Shin Kamiya in his only appearance (Shin does not appear in the Tekken games). Shin is the only survivor of the M gene subject, a program designed to try to put the Devil Gene into human clones. With both G Corporation and the Mishima Zaibatsu seeking Shin for their means, using Xiaoyu and Alisa respectively to make contact with him, this brings the ongoing Mishima family feud into a central spotlight with an ending that any shonen anime watcher would be proud to see.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance uses CGI animation that is on par with the video games at the time, and also the Resident Evil CGI movies that people love. This animation works well in trying to keep things as game-accurate as possible, it’s a shame that the story is so non-canon that it makes watching the whole thing completely pointless.
This movie was available via 2 methods. The first was the Tekken Hybrid game disc for PlayStation 3, which had not only the movie, but a demo of sorts of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 under a Prologue banner, but an HD version of Tekken Tag Tournament (Complete with Tekken Bowl). The other way was on Nintendo 3DS with Tekken 3D: Prime Edition, a port of Tekken 6. This version uses the Nintendo 3DS’ in-built 3D feature to scale the picture into a 3-dimensional viewing area, while the PlayStation 3 version can be played on 3D Bluray players (or the PlayStation 3 itself) with a 3D-enabled TV.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance is a good stand-alone story with great animation, but that is also the curse of the movie. It is easy to recommend if you want to watch a Tekken side story, but at the same time since it is non-canon, you can easily skip it. So it’s your choice if you think this is worth your time or not.
Title: Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge
Production Company: Crystal Sky Pictures
Written by: Nicole Jones & Steven Paul
Release date: August 12, 2014
Running time: 89 minutes
Rating: Australia: MA15+ / United Kingdom: 15 / United States: Not Rated
My god, what a mess this movie was.
To be honest, Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge looks like it is a completely different movie than anything that resembles the 2009 Tekken movie. Long gone are most of the characters from the previous movie, the futuristic apocalypse setting is mostly removed, and everything just looks and feels like it was made on the smallest shoestring budget known to man.
The story feels like it could have been used for any generic action movie. Using an amnesia angle to remove Kazuya’s memories, he is sent on missions by the mysterious “Minister” of a garbage town outside Tekken City… Not The Anvil, the slums from Tekken, but another area altogether. If “K” (The name Kazuya is given by The Minister character) doesn’t do the missions The Minister tells him to, then a bomb that is implanted in K’s chest will be detonated.
Through his missions, K encounters the only other direct reference Tekken character, Bryan Fury, who kicks K’s ass and switches things around by telling K that The Minister has turned against K and has him targeted for death. Eventually, K discovers that the man behind The Minister is Heihachi Mishima (Again played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) who brainwashed Kazuya’s memories away to test Kazuya’s survival skills. Kazuya decides to take down his father as the movie ends.
Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge is so generic and removed from Tekken that it is a slog to get through and watch. I’d rather watch the 1995 Street Fighter live-action movie on repeat than have to watch this movie again. There are no redeeming qualities to this movie at all and should be avoided at all costs.
Title: Tekken Bloodline
Production Company: Studio Hibari & Larx Entertainment
Written by: Gavin Hignight
Release date: August 18, 2022
Running time: 22–27 minutes
Rating: Australia: M / United States: TV-14
The latest of the Tekken media projects, Tekken Bloodline takes Jin Kazama’s story that happens between Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 and adapts that over 6 episodes. The story is pretty much the same one that people are familiar with from the games, with Ogre appearing and killing Jun Kazama, leading Jin to seek out Heihachi and train in the Mishima martial arts style.
Tekken Bloodline plays up the harsh nature of Jin’s training through the beginning of the show, then leads into the King of Iron Fist tournament. It’s here that Jin meets and befriends some of the other fighters in the tournament like Ling Xiaoyu, Hwoarang, Paul Pheonix, and Julia Chang. These interactions create a moral conflict in Jin as his Mishima training clashes with his Kazama values.
Just like in Tekken 3, Ogre shows up and fights Jin, with Jin awakening the Devil Gene within him. Jin almost kills Heihachi, but his friends stop him, ending the show with Jin flying away in devil form just like he did in his ending in the game.
Tekken Bloodline is the most accurate story told out of all these adaptations and is well worth the watch. However, for fans of animation, this show is trash. The animation style used is that weird cell-shaded CGI that doesn’t quite look like it was properly finished, and at times will distract you from what you are watching. Also, the torture that Jin goes through at the hands of Heihachi gets a little too much at times too, leading to you wanting to speed the story up to get to the good parts of the show.