This American-made live-action version of Tekken is yet another in the spate of films adapted from video and computer games that we have seen from the 1990s onwards. Others among these include:- Super Mario Bros. (1993), Double Dragon (1994), Street Fighter (1994), Mortal Kombat (1995), Wing Commander (1999), Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2001), Resident Evil (2002), House of the Dead (2003), Alone in the Dark (2005), BloodRayne (2005), Doom (2005), DOA: Dead or Alive (2006), Silent Hill (2006), Hitman (2007), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Postal (2007), Far Cry (2008), Max Payne (2008), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Angry Birds (2016), Assassins Creed (2016) and Warcraft (2016).
The director is Dwight [H.] Little who has made a number of minor action films with the likes of Bloodstone (1986), Getting Even (1986), Marked for Death (1990), Rapid Fire (1992) and Murder at 1600 (1997), as well as Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995). Little has ventured into genre cinema on several occasions with Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), the slasher movie version of The Phantom of the Opera (1989) and Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004). Screenwriter Alan B. McElroy has written several of Dwight Littles other films and other efforts such as Spawn (1997), Left Behind (2000), Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever (2002), Wrong Turn (2003) and Thr3e (2006).
On screen, Tekken remains disappointingly generic in all respects. It is indicative that even though the film was designed for cinematic release, it ended up being released directly to dvd in most territories. The background is a generic socially collapsed future the film borrows the idea from Rollerball (1975) of the world being dominated by corporate blocs as background for gladiatorial games but does absolutely nothing with this idea beyond mentioning it. The plot involving a combat tournament between various player characters from the game has been used in a number of other videogame adapted films Mortal Kombat, DOA: Dead or Alive which is in turn taken from the template created by Bruce Lees Enter the Dragon (1973). The central character of the kid who is a rank outsider and rises to the top of the competition by sheer skill is borrowed from The Karate Kid (1984).
The film has almost exclusively been designed around the various fight scenes with the barest minimum of fleshing out of characters beyond that. French action choreographer Cyril Raffaelli, best known as the hero in Banlieue 13 (2004), has been employed to choreograph the fight sequences. They are essentially all there is to the film anything beyond that is only developed in the most minimal way. Yet the very slickness of the commercial packaging leaves the action scenes feeling so bland that there is nothing you remember about any of them by the end of the film. Hero Jon Foo at least plays with a liveliness and charisma. He seems too young to take seriously but certainly has more animation and personality than the better known Jet Li.
Tekken: A Man Called X (2014) was a sequel, featuring only a return performance from Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.