REVIEW: Tekken 2 – Kazuya’s Revenge (2014)

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2014, SP Distribution/Crystal Sky Pictures

Director:
Wych Kaosayananda
Producers:
Steven Paul
Pimol Srivikorn
Writers:
Nicole Jones-Dion (screenplay)
Steven Paul (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Wych Kaosayananda
Editing:
Robert A. Ferretti
Vance Null

Cast:
Kane Kosugi (“K”/Kazuya Mishima)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Heihachi Mishima)
Rade Serbedzija (The Minister)
Gary Daniels (Bryan Fury)
Kelly Wenham (Rhona Anders)
Paige Lindquist (Laura)
Charlotte Kirk (Chloe)
Biljana Misic (Natasha)
Sahajak Boomthanakit (The Janitor)
Ron Smoorenburg (Thorn)
Brahim Achabbakhe (Rip)
Eoin O’Brien (Ezra)

After months of what can be described as sheer confusion, Kane Kosugi finally gets his first lead role in a Hollywood film in this prequel spin-off to the 2010 live action adaptation of the Namco video game.

The film opens with a young man, played by Kosugi, waking up in a hotel room. He has no recollection of how he got their or even worse, who he is. When police forces arrive to capture him, he fights them off and narrowly escapes when he is hit by Rhona Anders, a woman who knocks him out cold. The man wakes up tied to a pole in a village located outside the city. The village is run by “The Minister”, who trains assassins to kill “the sinners of the outside world”. Upon learning the man has no memory; the Minister calls him “K”.

As K begins and successfully completes his training, he does have a difference with the Minister’s other assassins: K doesn’t believe in killing and he refuses to use a gun. The Minister, convinced he is ready, sends K to live in an apartment while Rhona serves as K’s handler. She still disagrees with his methods of using no guns and no killing. However, when K’s latest target was a former assassin for the Minister by the name of Bryan Fury, K starts to question everything that has happened and as he constantly has nightmares and hearing someone’s voice, K is going to do what it takes to make things right and find out his real identity.

It is clear from the subtitle of the film, we know who “K” is. Many felt excited when Kane Kosugi earned his first lead role in a Hollywood production. Then, it was announced it was the long-gestated prequel to the 2010 adaptation of Tekken, an abysmal live action adaptation of the popular Namco video game series. Many wondered why? Then, Kosugi’s reps said the film was actually a new action film called “Agent X” and it would involve an amnesiac man who would be a trained assassin.

Finally, in May 2014, the film’s production company, Crystal Sky, did confirm it was the Tekken prequel that would involve the character of Kazuya Mishima (played by Ian Anthony Dale in the first film) as “an amnesiac man who would be a trained assassin”. Originally the film was to have been directed by Ong-Bak helmer Prachya Pinkaew, but it is learned that after Prachya departed, the helmer was revealed to be Wych Kaosayananda, credited here as Wych Kaos, who directed the 2002 misfire that was Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (in which a recent interview explained that producer interference messed up his film debut). Kaos also served as the film’s cinematographer.

While it does not necessary have to be associated with the video game except for its use of certain character names, it does hold its own to some aspect. One must praise Kane Kosugi and the cast and crew for sticking it out and trying their hardest. Kosugi truly shows why he is destined for a lead role. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa reprises his role of Tekken leader Heihachi Mishima, sporting his natural bald headed look instead of the classic look seen in the first film. In addition, British powerhouse Gary Daniels returns as Bryan Fury, who shows up to fight Kosugi then becomes a sage like catalyst in an extended cameo.

The Minister’s top assassins are females. The handler Rhona, played by Kelly Wenham, is quite an interesting role. At first glance, it was assumed that two assassins would later be known throughout as the Williams sisters, Anna and Nina, from the original film. While one can only guess that a schoolgirl assassin, played by Charlotte Kirk, could be Anna, it is clear that Serbian killer Natasha, played by Biljana Misic, is not Nina as suspected despite the look.

Serving as the fight choreographer and stunt coordinator is Brahim Achabbakhe, who had worked with Kosugi on the film Ninja: Shadow of a Tear as Tim Man’s assistant and Scott Adkins’ stunt double when Adkins suffered a back injury. One must credit Achabbakhe as he does make Kosugi look good. Upon looking at the fights after a first viewing, they are actually not too shabby. The fight that stands out is the one that ends the film. The final confrontation pits Kosugi against two powerhouses named Rip and Thorn, who are the enforcers for Heihachi and the Minister respectively. In the roles of these two adversaries are Achabbakhe himself and Ron Smoorenburg. While one may have felt Smoorenburg didn’t get enough action in Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, he shows here that he has not lost a step and under Achabbakhe’s supervision, the Dutchman looks impressive as does Achabbakhe himself as this is a one against two fight that stands a great way to end a film.

While it may not be what one would expect in a Tekken film, this prequel/spinoff is appropriately titled Kazuya’s Revenge and kudos goes out to Kane Kosugi and Brahim Achabbakhe’s fight choreography, especially the final one vs. two finale. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s not completely bad.

WFG RATING: B-

DVD/BLU-RAY

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