After months of what can be described as sheer confusion, Kane Kosugi finally gets his first lead role in a Hollywood film. However, there is just one slight problem: it’s the prequel to the live action adaptation of TEKKEN and quite frankly, it wasn’t necessary to reference anything with the Namco game with this.
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 (Kelly Wenham), 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” (Rade Serbedzija), 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 (Gary Daniels), 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, this past May, 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.
The problem with this film? It did not necessary have to be associated with TEKKEN. The only possibility behind this could be “film rights expiring”, a practice in which production companies learn they will lose the rights to adapting something and they churn something out at the last minute. It was done with the 1994 unreleased version of Marvel’s FANTASTIC FOUR. It seems like screenwriter Nicole Jones-Dion must have written the core plot of the film with Crystal Sky CEO Steven Paul adding the TEKKEN references in and to be quite frank, the TEKKEN references were not needed whatsoever.
However, 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. However, has this been the actual AGENT X film, then one would clearly yell “Yes!”, but they may find it disheartening that we are talking about this being a prequel to a lousy adaptation of one of the most popular video games for fighting fans. To add fuel to this fire, 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 and KFC favorite 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 Nina, it is clear that a Serbian killer, played by Biljana Misic, is not Anna as suspected.
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. However, there are times when impact shots are done with an extreme close-up, which hinders a fight scene more rather than make it excel. There are some slo-mo shots that come in at the right moment and as mentioned Kosugi gets to pull off some nice moves including what is known as the “City Hunter triple kick” against an opponent in training.
However, 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.
So how does TEKKEN 2: KAZUYA’S REVENGE fare as a prequel? Horrible. However, had it been a separate film away from the TEKKEN universe, then we would have had something truly seeing. The fight scenes here will make one appreciate that good ol fast forward button. However, give credit to Kane Kosugi, Brahim Achabbakhe, and Ron Smoorenburg for bringing a bit of redemption with their climactic one-on-two final fight. Worth only a one-time rental unless you just want to watch the action scenes.
2014 • adaptation • assassin • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa • Gary Daniels • Kane Kosugi • sequel • Tekken 2: Kazuya's Revenge