Real Talk By: Cmack The Don
We have a lot of different genres in movies today, we have films doing things that few ever could before due to CGI, but one genre is getting left behind due to the advances we’ve seen in the industry: The Martial Art film.
As an avid and dedicated viewer of human skulls getting busted in and someone who recognizes that reality is best delivered upon a dirty bitch’s brain via roundhouse kick or knifehand, I’ve made it the Don’s Duty to talk about how martial arts movies could be revitalized through video games. The following list is just my ideas, and even though I couldn’t account for all the classics, I picked the individual films I felt would best make the transition to video game format and separate the players from the played.
SPOILER ALERT: This article will be going in-depth into the plots of the following films listed, but quite honestly if you haven’t seen all the soon-to-be-mentioned movies already, son what are you doin’ with yoself? Get to Family Video immediately, homeboy!
5. Undisputed 2 and 3
I didn’t include Undisputed 1 due to the similarity it would have with the Fight Night Champion story mode, as U1 was just prison boxing. My main idea for these two movies is to divide up the game into 2 acts or chapters, 1 where you play through 2 and then 3, with other modes thrown in.
The Set Up:
In Undisputed 2, Black Dynamite himself Michael Jai White plays Ving Rhames’ villainous boxer George Chambers from the previous movie who gets framed into a Russian prison-fighting circuit run by the Russian Mafia. In the film, you see that Chambers has to fight in and out of the ring with prisoners and in the brutal, no rules matches. In this way, the game would shift from being solely a traditional 1 on 1 ring fighter to also having 3rd person elements. In Undisputed 2, George Chambers has to learn kicking and grappling to compete with the MMA using prison champ Yuri Boyka (Scott Adkins). These training sequences would be integral to Chambers’ storyline, and I’d also want there to be torture endurance mini-games, as there are a number of sequences where the Russian prison officials put Chambers in shitty conditions to try to wear down his health and willpower.
In the second part of the game, covering Undisputed 3, you would play the beaten boss of the first chapter, Yuri Boyka, recovering from his brutal leg injury that leaves him crutch reliant and unable to fight. You train Boyka’s leg back to working condition and also train alongside American boxer Turbo (Mykel Shannon Jenkins), playing through their respective matches, learning each’s fighting style, and eventually playing through to their respective escape.
The Gameplay: Undisputed 2 and 3 used a brilliant mix of hard and brutal hits combined with over-the-top acrobatics and trick moves, creating a cool blend of realism and flashiness in the fighting. The game would use a fighting engine reminiscent of the recent UFC games (also called Undisputed, hmmmm coincidence?) but also throw in acrobatics and special show-off techniques you could build up with solid fighting. Training would be an important part of the game, and how you would train would affect what moves you would be able to pull off and how damaging they would be. There would definitely be other modes of play aside from the story, and a create-a-fighter system to boot.
4. The Five Deadly Venoms
The Set Up:
The Five Deadly Venoms is a Shaw Brothers classic about one warrior in training trying to find each of his master’s students to avenge his death and prevent evil from befalling their clan. Each of the students has a specialty and a certain skill they learned from their master, and the last student (who has a blend of all their abilities) has to find them and attempt to bring them back together. It would be a very story driven game with some dialogue elements (but no repetitive fetch quests or anything like that) such as asking villagers where the next student might be located as well as dialogue portions that would affect how the next Venom may react to your quest, depending on what choice you made. There would be multiple endings as well as unlockable costumes and paths, sort of like Dynasty Warriors.
The Gameplay: Going off my comparison to Dynasty Warriors, the Venoms game would borrow elements from the recent Hokuto Musou/Fist of the North Star game, seeing as it’s a Musou-style game without a weapons focus. Everything from the skill trees, the power-ups, and the special moves would be intact, but since you would have fewer characters to learn, the fighting and combos would be a bit more intricate, and instead of learning new combos just to entertain yourself, you’d have to learn the new moves in order to exploit new enemies weaknesses. The choreography in the Shaw Brothers films is very fancy, rhythmic, and artistic, with lots of strategy, so even though the game would allow you to deliver hard hits given the opportunity, you would have to use finesse and an understanding of the game’s fighting mechanics to succeed, in summary, an anti-button masher.
Boss battles would shift the format from Musou-style to a 1 on 1 format with a different camera view, and here things like pressure points and special techniques would become very important.
The student with mixed skills, “The Hybrid Venom” would learn from his encounters with the others (who you could also play as in their viewpoints in the story) and you could mix and allocate his skills however you chose, so that he could have any blend of skills you think would be the best.
Outside of the story mode, there would be a co-op story and other co-op modes to do justice to the ensemble cast, as well as each pair of characters having their own unique team specials. There would be an endless adventure style mode for the Musou type gameplay and also a versus mode with online for the 1 on 1 parts of the gameplay.
3. Duel to the Death
The Set Up: Duel to the Death is one of the last traditional-style martial arts flicks made in Hong Kong in the 80’s, and revolves around China and Japan having their two greatest warriors face off against one another in a duel for honor, but of course, some dirty dogs behind the scenes end up manipulating things and trying to slant the outcome, as well as kidnapping other powerful martial artists, and the two swordsmen from the rival nations end up having to team up to save their countries, their friends, and themselves.
The action scenes in this one are totally off-the-wall and involve all kinds of craziness from people in human-sized spider webs to hang-gliding ninjas. The two main warriors, one a Chinese Knight trained by the Shaolin and the other a brutal Samurai, have totally different philosophies and styles, and would provide for a great 2-player adventure.
The Gameplay: Since this movie is focused on the two protagonists, the main attraction would be the depth of each of their journeys and how different their styles and methods are from each other. Playing through the story of each would truly be playing two different games and learning to play in two different ways.
The game itself would be set up as a free roaming, open world adventure that would of course have set-action sequences. A model for the game would be the well-regarded “Way of the Samurai” games or Red Dead Redemption. There would be tons of side-quests and extra stories added in the movie storyline, and many different weapons and costumes you could acquire.
The Chinese Knight Ching Wan would use a special-move based, combo-type style and would be all about stringing all his moves together against one or many opponents to end in the most damage.
The Samurai Hashimoto would use a simpler single strike style that would be more individually lethal and would have lethal techniques he’d have to build up over combat in bursts, as opposed to one fluid combo.
The scale and scope of the game would be epic and long-running, with a detailed world and many hours of gameplay with an engaging storyline and multiple endings.
2. All of Bruce Lee’s Feature Films
The Set Up: Now I realize that this is just 5 films, but I had to make an exception with this one because which Bruce Lee movie do you pick to make into a game? Make an original adventure? It’s been done many times, even dating back to 8-Bit systems. Instead of placing Bruce into a phony, fantasy setting, why not play as him in the movies he actually starred in that we all know and love?
I’m thinking this would be one long adventure game, perhaps similar to the recent Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, where you played multiple versions of the same character, each with their own style and specialty, but with the same base set up to make an easy transition from version to version.
The Gameplay: In reality, Bruce Lee did become more and more skillful and more complex in his choreography as his career and life drew to a close, and this game would follow that chronological arc and get more and more difficult and complex as you kept playing. It would start with The Big Boss, move to Fist of Fury, then Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon, and then, finally, the game would offer a finished version of Game of Death based on the notes left behind by Bruce Lee himself and would be the most difficult of all the “acts” or movies in the game.
It would be 3rd person action adventure for sure, but the combat would be very complex and reaction time based, remember, you’re playing as a legend here, so even though the beginning of the game would be fairly accessible and user-friendly in terms of fighting, the combat would get tougher and tougher as you went along, demanding knowledge of moves, quick reactions, and even quick-time events in the midst of combat a la Shenmue. For multi-person battles, think Batman: Arkham Asylum style combat but with more than one attack and counter buttons, but definitely use that as a template.
For the 1 on 1 boss battles (which would really take the action over by the time you got to Game of Death), the gameplay would be sort of a mix between Tekken and DOA, with push button combos as well as lightning quick countering, provided you were skilled enough. Of course there would be weapon sequences, as Bruce Lee used at least 1 unique weapon in all of the films he starred in.
Each game would be filled with mini-games based on events in his movies, as well as segments of the games where you could play as lesser hero characters or Jim Kelly in Enter the Dragon, as well as the other 2 martial artists that Bruce was with in Game of Death. As I’m writing this, I haven’t decided whether or not it would be too campy to have Chuck Norris be an unlockable character and also a mode where you could fight waves of enemies co-op style with Bruce and Chuck, but for the sake of extra-content and decadence, I’m going to say that should be thrown in, especially considering Norris’ pop culture status nowadays as well.
1. The Street Fighter Series
The Set-Up: Quentin Tarantino’s favorite martial arts film of all time is extremely easy material for a game. The only reason I picked the legendary Sonny Chiba serial above Bruce Lee and his works is that “The Street Fighter” films really lend themselves to movies quite easily. The character can more easily be expanded into more missions and more storyline that weren’t in the movies, and the world the films are set in are over-the-top and begging for a virtual treatment. Watching the movies and looking at the atmosphere, it’s almost like they were goofy brawler games before video games were really much of thing.
Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi is one of the number one hit-men in Japan. Japan has extremely strict gun laws, making it hard for even criminals to get ahold of them, so the majority of Terry’s hits make use of his deadly and ruthless Kyokushin Karate training. The films are notoriously gory, with the first installment being the only film in American film history to receive an “X” Rating not for sex and nudity but for gore and violence. Aside from the mission based set-up the movies already follow, the game transition would be made easier by the fact that the sequels follow a direct and developing storyline, they’re not unrelated and just starring the same character, they kind of are an epic continuing saga of bloody vengeance that could easily create one stuffed game.
The Gameplay: The gameplay wouldn’t be total free roaming, but instead include mission areas that would have a lot of depth and exploration potential, but with a definite structure to it. To a degree, you could think No More Heroes but with brutal bare handed combat instead of psuedo-lightsaber fighting. At your base you would be able to play mini-games to train and improve your skills, and then pick from a variety of jobs that would be non-story related, and then forced to do occasional story-related jobs as well.
The combat itself would be brutal 3rd person fighting, with Terry being able to fight as dirty as his movie counterpart, building up “Gore Techniques” through gradual fighting. The game would have tons of these fatalities, so many that you could use many and often not see the same 1 twice throughout the entire game. Some would be unique to boss characters and other assassins, and without pulling it off, you’d lose. You’d have to collect hints and information on what techniques would be most effective against bosses and what to do against them. The Gore Techniques would have a similar template to the recent Mortal Kombat (MK9)’s X-Ray techniques, especially considering that The Street Fighter was one of the first martial arts movies to use an X-Ray to show the damage of the techniques, albeit looking incredibly cheesy. The cheeziness of the movies would be totally acknowledged and ugly, grainy, 70’s grindhouse filter would be used on the game to make it look like the films, as well as the game’s dialog being intentionally poorly dubbed into English (this would be an option). Unlockable characters would include Terry’s nemesis throughout the story, Junjo, as well as a tie to Tarantino with The Bride being unlockable maybe for a mini-game. Between the mix of comedy, gore, grindhouse, and solid action and fighting, a game of Chiba’s The Street Fighter could be a modern action classic.