On May 5, a teen video gamer enters the world in which he actually plays to save a kingdom from a cruel ruler in Matthias Hoene’s Enter the Warrior’s Gate. To commemorate the release of the film, World Film Geek unleashes video games brought to life in movies.
This is not a complete list of video game adaptations but select titles that involve games that have gained a bit of notoriety whether it was stellar or not so great:
Super Mario Bros. (Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, 1993)
Whoever thought of making a live action adaptation of the Nintendo game must be regretting it as this has been panned as one of the all-time worst adaptations of a video game. The film stars the late Bob Hoskins and comedian John Leguizamo as plumbing brothers Mario and Luigi who travel to another dimension to rescue a princess, played by Samantha Mathis, against the crime lord King Koopa, played by the late Dennis Hopper. Both Hoskins and Leguizamo were none too happy making the film and the film, the first of the video game adaptations, was panned by many fans.
Street Fighter (Steven E. De Souza, 1994)
An attempt to capitalize on the success of Capcom’s hit game Street Fighter II was a mishmash adventure in which Col. William Guile, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, enlists two hustlers, Ken and Ryu, the former miscast by Damian Chapa and the latter by Byron Mann, to help him take down the evil Bison, played by Raul Julia in what would be his final film performance as he passed away two months before the film’s release. Add a vengeance seeking reporter in Chun-Li, played by Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-star Ming-Na Wen and an array of the video game characters brought to life as either ally or villain.
By today’s standard despite a cult following, the result is quite laughable. However, in 2015, Britiish martial artist and filmmaker Joey Ansah resurrected the SF legacy with the renowned web series Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist with Mike Moh as Ryu and Christian Howard, who couldn’t make a more perfect Ken Masters in today’s era.
On a side note, Hong Kong did two attempts to the SF legacy in 1993, first with a fight scene in the film City Hunter, in which Jackie Chan would become both sumo wrestler E. Honde (the name was changed from Honda due to Chan’s deal with Mitsubishi) and then Chun Li to take on Gary Daniels as Ken. The comedy duo of Eric Kot and Jan Lamb played Guile and Dhalsim in this hilarious fight scene.
Then, CH director Wong Jing took the SF concept for Future Cops, but due to copyright, had to change the character names, but the heroes are based on Vega, Dhalsim, Ryu, Guile, Blanka, and Chun-Li while the villains composed of Bison, Ken, Sagat, and Honda. As an added bonus look for co-star Dicky Cheung, who plays the heroes’ modern-day ally, to transform into Goku from the Dragonball universe.
Mortal Kombat (Paul W.S. Anderson, 1995)
Hailed as one of the best amongst gamers and martial arts fans, this PG-13 live-action adaptation of the video game features the likes of American-born Hong Kong action star Robin Shou in his star-making turn as Liu Kang, Christopher Lambert as Lord Raiden, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as the villain Shang Tsung. Sadly, the sequel, 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation made the fans turn the opposite direction. However, with the minor success of the short lived prequel series Mortal Kombat: Conquest and the two-season web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, a third official film is currently in development with last word going under the direction of Simon McQuoid.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Simon West, 2001)
When it was announced that Eidos’ iconic game series would get the live action treatment, fans rallied in hopes of getting one actress to take the role of the adventurer Lara Croft: Angelina Jolie. That’s exactly what happened and the film was a hit at the box office. The same could not be said for the 2003 sequel, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, which was not a bad film, but not a great film either. However, a reboot is currently in production with Award-winning actress Alicia Vikander taking the role of Lara.
Doom (Andrzej Bartkowiak, 2005)
The sci-fi film, based on the GT Interactive game, relied on the star power of former pro wrestler Dwayne Johnson and future Dr. McCoy, Karl Urban, as members of an elite soldier unit sent to a remote scientific base on Mars where they experience something very dangerous. The film features fight choreography by Hong Kong action director Dion Lam and even brings out the first person shooter aspect of the game brought to life when Karl Urban’s Reaper begins blasting away the threats.
DOA: Dead or Alive (Corey Yuen, 2006)
If you get the director of both No Retreat, No Surrender and the original Transporter to direct a live action adaptation of a video game of this caliber, then one should have expected something great. However, despite some decent action with some actually good casting (Jamie Pressly as Tina and Kevin Nash as her father Bass not to mention Kane Kosugi as Ryu Hayabusa come to mind), the problem herein lies with the script, which takes the tournament that is the basis of the Tecmo video game and mixes it with a ridiculous plot involving stealing the skills of the fighters via virtual reality.
Not to add to the mix some changes in certain characters, notably the character of Helena Douglas, played by Sarah Carter, who is seen here as an extreme sports fanatic rather than the opera singer turned heiress of the DOA tournament. Plus, there just had to be a scene involving the DOA girls playing beach volleyball to capitalize on the spinoff game involving that sport.
Despite this, this author is still hopeful that Tecmo can bounce back from this and give Kane Kosugi‘s Ryu Hayabusa the movie he is truly meant for: Ninja Gaiden and yes, bring back Kosugi to play that role.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
Recently retired German filmmaker Uwe Boll gained notoriety in the United States with his adaptations of various video games. Boll has tackled the likes of Alone in the Dark (2005 and 2008), House of the Dead (2003), BloodRayne (2005, 2007, and 2010) Far Cry (2009). His take on Dungeon Siege, re-titled In the Name of the King, starring Jason Statham is a pretty good adaptation from 2007 that spawned two sequels in 2011 and 2015, starring Dolph Lundgren and Dominic Purcell that added a meshing of modern day and time travel, but are still not that bad. The original film stands out with Statham as a hero who joins together with the King’s forces to take on a sadistic Magus who is plotting to take over the throne himself.
Tekken (Dwight H. Little, 2010)
Dwight Little, who directed the late Brandon Lee’s action piece Rapid Fire in 1992, was hired to take Namco’s beloved fighting game and bring it to life. However, there were many mistakes in terms of casting and post-production editing of the fight scenes that made this less than stellar. In the film, Jin Kazama (Jon Foo of the ill-fated Rush Hour TV series) enters the Iron Fist tournament in the hopes of avenging his mother’s death at the hands of Heihachi Mishima (veteran villain actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).
Despite this failure, in which even game creator Katushiro Harada has his share of criticizing the film, a prequel/spin-off (Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge) was released in 2014, focusing on the character of Kazuya Mishima, played by Kane Kosugi and did feature both Heihachi and the character of Bryan Fury, reprised from the original film by Gary Daniels. The film does feature better edited fights including a very nice two-on-one finale between Kosugi and the duo of Ron Smoorenburg and fight choreographer Brahim Achabbakhe.
Pixels (Chris Columbus, 2015)
A pretty decent film about video games coming to life to cause havoc, the film got panned all because it seemed like the name Adam Sandler means box office poison. However, the concept is pretty interesting. When aliens invade Earth by bringing the likes of classic games Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Galaga, Q*Bert, and Arkanoid to life, the only ones capable of stopping this threat is a group of adults who were once arcade champions when they were kids. Pretty fun concept that is not to be taken seriously.
Assassin’s Creed (Justin Kurzel, 2016)
One of the most recent entries on the list is this adaptation of the Ubisoft video game series with Michael Fassbender both starring and producing. However, the film takes on an original story never before seen in the games and unleashes a new character in Cal Lynch, a young man who goes into the Animus as part of an experiment and enters the mind of his ancestor, Aguilar, an Assassin during the Spanish Inquisition. While the film didn’t do exactly well in theaters, it is actually not a bad film at all and has some great stunt sequences to match.
With the release of Enter the Warrior’s Gate, a meshing of video gaming and alternate dimensions, these are the top picks for video games coming to life. Some are actually good and some are not so good, but in any case, it is clear that the world of video gaming and live action adaptations are still moving full speed ahead. Let’s not forget 2018’s Rampage starring Dwayne Johnson that has just began production, a live action take on the 1980’s classic game about three giant monsters wreaking havoc in cities around the world.
In the meantime, check out Enter the Warrior’s Gate when it comes to theaters on May 5 from EuropaCorp.