Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Short Film Review: Street Fighter X Tekken: The Devil Within


Ryu (Dan Southworth) is at war with himself, literally.  Having recently uncovered the “Satsui no hadou” ("Surge of Murderous Intent") within himself, the karateka struggles against its immense power.  This epic battle attracts the unwanted attentions of Kazuya Mishima (Mark Mushashi), who has fully embraced his own dark nature.  Kazuya takes advantage of Ryu’s weakened stake and moves in for the kill.  Ken Masters (Rueben Langdon) happens upon the fight and rushes to the aide of his troubled comrade.  As these warriors collide, the “Devil Gene” threatens to completely overtake its host.



The main characters of the long running Street Fighter and Tekken franchises finally face-off in Street Fighter X Tekken: The Devil Within.  This long awaited mash-up comes courtesy of the Thousand Pounds Fight Team, and they have clearly spared no expense.  This film means to be taken seriously, and uses every resource at its disposal to ensure that happens.  

Though Street Fighter X Tekken: The Devil Within is done in the same reverential vein as 2010’s much lauded Street Fighter: Legacy, it’s much more visually dynamic.  The camera moves with the fighters, affecting different angles and maneuvers to accentuate the techniques used, as well as the impact of the blows themselves.  It follows the action in a kinetic way, with devolving into “shaky-cam” madness.

The film has a casual yet effective way of integrating both visual effects and flamboyant camerawork into the mix.  A Split screen at the 5:08 mark is immediately followed by some relatively smooth speed ramping.  It then casually segues into Ken’s Ki-Powered uppercut and a bit of slow-motion aerial combat.  Each moment flows seamlessly into the next, allowing the fight to build to a satisfying crescendo.   

There is one rather curious aspect of Street Fighter X Tekken: The Devil Within.  The film is set in the snow covered woods, yet Dan Southworth is shown barefoot and wearing cut off sleeves throughout.  How exactly was this achieved?  The weather conditions look authentic, and the effect is seamless.  All that’s missing are clouds of mist emitting from the actors mouths as they talk.    

The Street Fighter characters patented “special moves” are shown failing them at the most inopportune moments.  This adds an air of desperation, and makes the situation feel infinitely more serious.  The suitably melodramatic song choices also help in this regard.  Overly emotional musical scores and rock songs are a staple of anime, and this film uses both to optimum effect.

The only noticeable drawbacks are in the casting.  Rueben Langdon (Who's the actual voice actor for Ken Masters in the games) looks a bit old for the part of Ken*, and it would have been preferable to have an Asian actor playing Ryu.  Those minor nitpicks aside, Both Langdon and Southworth infuse the characters with emotion.  Both are clearly in the moment, which is squarely where they need to be.

Street Fighter: The Devil Within is a polished, if extremely short, piece of entertainment.  It’s reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in how it visualizes video game fights in a live action setting.  It shows that such an aesthetic can be authentically replicated on a miniscule budget.  The Thousand Pounds fight team have used their resources in the most effective and efficient manner possible.  One could hardly ask for more.

*Mr. Langdon recently informed me that in the latest installment of the games, Ken Masters is likely in his 30's, which would mean that Mr. Langdon is not too old for the part.  My apologies sir. 




2 comments:

  1. Reuben Langdon is the actual voice actor for Ken. I'm not sure how you could claim they should find a better Ken than Ken himself. And Dan Southworth is part Asian.

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  2. Mr. Langdon himself recently informed me that he is, in fact, the voice actor for Ken. However, I'm not reviewing his voice acting abilities. I'm reviewing his acting in a live action short film. IMO he looks a bit old for the part. Note that I never said he was bad in the role. The same goes for Dan Southworth. I thought both did a great job, all things considered.

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