For years, the American Hollywood machine has “adapted” the works of other countries into American movies. I used quotations around ‘adapted’ because the films that are created usually have little to nothing to do with the source material. Some of these films are just awful, pointless wastes of money that anger the fan base of the original story due to the hack jobs carried out by the Hollywood suits.
This concept has always been of interest to me, as I have always had a hard time understanding fully just how American producers and movie executives could so willingly green-light such empty cinematic depictions of time-honored and hugely popular stories. I almost have to assume that the people who make these films are just ignorant, and come to the decisions they make in board rooms having not even seen the original material (or spent more than just a few minutes exploring what it is about).
Some of the most glaring injustices of this fashion have to do with Japanese anime/manga and video games turned into American movies. I could go on for hours listing every single instance of this, but no one has the patience for that. Instead, this blog will discuss some of the most offensive examples of this phenomenon.
Some of the worst offenders include the following:
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Yuck. This movie was such trash…I haven’t seen it in about 15 years, but from what I remember, it was set in some perpetually dark world called “Dinohattan”, Dennis Hopper was Bowser despite not looking anything like the big green monster from the games, and John Leguizamo was Luigi. Oh, I also remember some car chase in a cop car and seeing this lizard thing that was supposed to be Yoshi for about a minute. And the Koopa Troopas were big huge things with tiny little heads.
Why is the setting for this movie industrial and dark/creepy? The world in the Mario games is colorful and vibrant. They clearly had no idea what they were doing.
This movie practically has NOTHING to do with any of the Mario video games, and was a big mess that lost a lot of money and made a lot of people mad. Very, very bad.
Double Dragon (1994)
This came out in 1994. I barely remember seeing Double Dragon, but apparently it was pretty bad. Robert Patrick (T-1000 from Terminator) was the villain, of course, and that guy from Party of Five (Scott Wolf) was one of the brothers.
Street Fighter (1994)
Now, I always played Street Fighter video games growing up, so I was familiar with the game’s universe. This 1994 movie, while completely stripping away any resemblance to the game and adding a James Bond-ish plot line about General Bison (Raul Julia) trying to enslave the world and create a utopia named Bisonopolis (or something) was nonsensical and silly. Also silly was the casting, which made no sense. Colonel Guile is supposed to be an American, yet he’s played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, a Belgian with a heavy accent? Raul Julia (in his last acting role before his death) as Bison was also odd but I didn’t mind it too much, probably because of his goofy facial expressions.
The people behind this movie seemed to have paid attention to what the characters in the game looked like, but were unable to really craft a well-written movie that does the games any justice. Instead, the entire film is hilariously B-grade, with silly catchphrases Van Damme high-kicks all over the place. Despite the fact that the movie sucks, I have and still do enjoy watching it, if only for how campy it is.
Here’s the trailer….so bad/hilarious it’s amazing!
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2008)
This came out last year….did you know that? I had no idea it was even in production, and then all of a sudden it was released last February. I have yet to see the film, but it’s supposedly legendary in its awfulness. Kristin Kreuk plays Chun-Li, despite the fact that Kristin Kreuk is not Asian. Chris Klein, star of 2002’s Rollerball (which coincidentally might be THE worst movie I have ever seen) is some sort of FBI or police investigator guy. I hope to see this movie sometime just to see how bad it really is…another swing and a miss for video game spinoffs.
Before I continue, here’s the movie’s trailer for your “enjoyment”:
Final Fantasy (2001)
This barely had anything to do with Hironobu Sakaguchi‘s legendary Final Fantasy video game series, instead being some random story with creepy, very life-like animation. I remember my brother went to this movie with our grandma, and after the movie she said she hadn’t realized it was an animated film; she had thought it was live-action. At least the animators did their jobs well.
This was received poorly by critics and fans of Final Fantasy (shocking, I know).
Dragonball: Evolution (2009)
Sigh. I was never a big Dragonball fan, and this movie isn’t going to make me start being one. The whole thing looks lame and uninspired. I would think someone would be able to make a Dragonball movie that would remain true to the franchise’s roots and would please the fans, but if this is the best they can do, then….sigh.
Speed Racer (2008)
The Wachowski Brothers (fathers of the Matrix films) made this film adaptation of the Japanese manga and anime franchise Mach Go Go Go in 2008. The film starred Emile Hirsch in the title role and featured Christina Ricci and Matthew Fox as Racer X, Speed Racer‘s enemy.
The prospect of a Speed Racer movie had been around since 1992, and was finally finished and released in 2008. It didn’t do very well critically, but made roughly $93 million in the box office, which is a good number but not quite enough to recoup the film’s $120 million budget. So it’s basically a bomb in that regard.
As this blog has attempted to indicate, Hollywood has a long history of turning hugely popular Japanese film, anime, and manga stories into big (or low) budget films that usually end up lame and hated by critics and fans alike. This makes me sad, as I wish someone could step in and either make sure these movies aren’t made any more or that they are made correctly, instead of being butchered by the Hollywood machine.
I don’t see a reason why some of these games and anime-turned movies couldn’t have been done accurately and successfully (such as Street Fighter), instead of resulting in the poorly executed films we see that are completely unfaithful to the source material in the first place.
Sometimes, though, some games should just be left alone. Complicated games like the Super Mario Brothers games should not be turned into movies….the locations and universe of the games just don’t translate well to a movie screen. Not every game should be turned into a movie.
So that’s a small list of some of the atrocities carried out by Hollywood regarding turning Japanese things into American movies. I purposely left out the Transformers movies since there’s already been so much written about them. Those movies are big bloated Michael Bay explosion-fests that are quite different from the original Japanese cartoons in the 1980s, but I didn’t feel the need to talk about them much here.
If anyone can think of any glaring omissions to this list, feel free to vent in the comments. 🙂