Speech Therapy: Blood! Vengeance! Characters! (Round 2)


Last episode! Do Tekken: Blood Vengeance and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children create fight scenes that also entertain non-fans of the games they’re based on? Specifically, do they create characters within the course of the film that non-fans can sympathize with or understand?

Now! Let’s take a look at the final fight scene in both movies. Both fight scenes are sort of like a final boss fight where the boss is a character that fans are familiar with but has only been mentioned briefly in the course of the movie. From the boss’s first appearance to his defeat, Advent Children Complete’s final fight lasts roughly 10 minutes, Advent Children’s lasts 6 minutes, and Tekken’s lasts about 25 minutes.

Do the movies succeed in setting up the characters and story so that non-fans are also engaged in the battle and entertained for the duration of these fights?

Tekken fairs very poorly… but for reasons completely unrelated to the introduction of a new character. As soon as this boss fight starts, the two girls we’ve spent the entire movie with cease to have any importance. This fight is between boss Heihachi Mishima, Kazuya Mishima leader of G Corporation, Jin Kazama leader of Mishima Zaibatsu, and Shin Kamiya.

The character that we know best is Shin Kamiya. As sort of the driving force of the movie, he’s carrier of the M gene, a genetic mutation that makes him immortal. Jin and Kazuya have been after him to gain immortality, which is how the three came together for this final fight. Unfortunately, whenever Jin and Kazuya meet, Jin’s grandfather and Kazuya’s father, Heihachi appears as well. This is all part of Shin’s plan though. He wants to kill Heihachi, the man behind the experiments performed on him to produce the M gene.

Shin’s not really someone we can sympathize with though. He’s developed no meaningful relationships with the main characters and shown himself only to be a pathetic, suicidal asshole. We need not worry too much about it though because, despite his immortality, he dies almost immediately, assumedly by being impaled on a few stray hairs.

This leaves us with two characters who combined have had less than five minutes of screen time. Jin is perhaps the most likely one we can sympathize with. He died as badly as he lived, but Shin’s death ignites Jin’s rage towards Kazuya and Heihachi. The Mishima family has killed an innocent in their family quarrel, and this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Jin wants to kill his father and grandfather to end the bloodshed. Heihachi and Kazuya simply want to kill the other two for no reason. Jin is also a friend of Shin and Xiaoyu, the protagonist. What sympathy we can have for Jin is forgotten though when he carelessly tosses Xiaoyu aside, and we’re reminded that he doesn’t care if he destroys the entire world in his quest to destroy his family.

Meanwhile, the main characters are on the sidelines trying desperately to assert their purpose in an ultimately meaningless fight. They seem to be trying to emphasize the horrors of violence, but because this battle is taking place in a castle in the middle of nowhere between near invincible characters that we don’t know or like, there’s nothing horrific about it. In fact, we’re hoping that all three of them kill each other as quickly as possible so that they stop breeding. Xioayu’s robot friend Alisa becomes a casualty, but her apparent death does nothing to stop the violence or improve Jin’s character. Xioayu is the only one in the audience or the movie who is stupid enough to believe or care that Alisa is dead. Jin put her in standby mode so that she wouldn’t get in the way of him murdering his family.

Advent Children does a better job at creating an entertaining fight scene that we care about without needing all the backstory that fans have. This time, we have the benefit of being with Cloud, a character that we’ve gotten to know pretty well in the course of the movie. By this point, Cloud has realized what an ass he’s been to his friends, and he’s tried to make up for that. He’s defeated horrible monsters that have destroyed the city, slaughtered innocent civilians, and attacked his friends. He’s also fought Kadaj, who is responsible for kidnapping and enslaving children, destroying the city, killing people, and possibly infecting innocents with a horrible illness. Overall, Cloud is someone we can root for.

The moments leading up to the fight do a great job at getting rid of any doubts we have about how bad it would be if Sephiroth were resurrected. As soon as Cloud realizes that Kadaj knows how to recreate Sephiroth, his cocky attitude changes to panic. We recognize Sephiroth from the film’s introduction when he appears, and Cloud shows us how we should feel about this. Panic is something we’ve never seen from Cloud before, and he’s fought a giant monster, hordes of beasts, and three guys who are nearly as strong as he is.

We’ve seen: “Ah crap. I dropped my sword.”

“That guy! I should stop hallucinating!”

“Damn kids!”

And “What the hell?”

But never “Oh shit!”

Sephiroth’s danger both to the world and to Cloud is further enforced when we see what he can do. We’ve spent the movie with characters that can defy gravity and destroy structures with a single punch or sword swing, but Sephiroth still manages to place himself on an entirely different level. Compared to Sephiroth, Cloud and the others are really only high jumping. They need to launch themselves off something, like the ground or the power of friendship, and eventually, they fall. Sephiroth can outright fly. He can also destroy structures without touching them and manipulate the weather without Materia.

[Gifts from mother?]

Yeah, whatever.

These elements introduce the possibility that Cloud might fail. He may even be killed. We’ve grown to like Cloud and the destruction of the world and its inhabitants is never a good thing, so even if we’ve never played Final Fantasy VII and could care less that Cloud is fighting Sephiroth in a glorious CGI movie, we still have enough reasons to engage in the fight and root for the hero.

At the end of the day, Tekken: Blood Vengeance and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children are fan service films, and there’s bound to be some things that outsiders won’t understand or appreciate. That’s what makes fan service films great! Unlike most movies out there, fan service films target a very specific audience, which can produce unique, awesome films. Some fan service films like Blood Vengeance target their fans only. I’m sure Tekken fans are much more appreciative of the glorious battle between Heihachi, Jin, and Kazuya than I am… at least I hope they are. Other fan films like Advent Children are accessible enough to attract new fans to a great game and give a nod and wink to old fans. Either way, these films give someone out there something that they’ve always wanted to see.

Talk at you next time!


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