Julien Neaves, Editor
Plot (Moderate Spoilers): After his mother Jun is slain by the demonic warrior Ogre young Jin Kazama begins training with his merciless grandfather Heihachi Mishima to win the King of Iron Fist tournament. Jin hopes to become strong enough to kill Ogre and avenge his mother, but the scheming Heihachi has other plans.
Review: For some context, I am a fan of the games and played up to Tekken 3 (Tekken 7 was released in 2015, so I am way behind) which coincidentally is the storyline the series loosely adapts. Growing up I was always more a fan of Street Fighter (for the gameplay) and Mortal Kombat (for the rich lore and gore). But Tekken does feature its share of interesting characters and some cool story elements, so a well-done adaptation could work. And while new anime series Tekken: Bloodline does a few things right, it’s not exactly a knockout.
Firstly, what works. The characters all look and act like their video game counterparts and the voice acting is solid. Of those characters, the vile Heihachi was my favourite and I also enjoyed the wise Jun, strong Paul Phoenix and laid back master of kicking Hwoarang. Jin was okay as a protagonist, but him being surprised every two minutes when someone is speaking (90 per cent of what they are saying not exactly revelatory information) got real old real fast. And I do give the creators credit for sticking closely to the lore and visually replicating the feel of the games.
Now what doesn’t work. The six-episode series centres on a tournament but there are so few characters and fights it feels like a night out watching MMA. And I don’t mind focusing on a small group of characters, and admittedly each get some development, but we could have at least seen cameo appearances and fights featuring other beloved fighters. Did their budget run out or something? My boy Marshall Law only gets a mention and a marquee image. Super weird ninja Yoshimitsu only gets a marquee. Others like Lei Wulong, Eddy Gordo and Gun Jack are nowhere to be seen. Lame! Also the animation is okay but they do this annoying lighting thing where most of the character is in shadow except for a triangular peak at the top. I don’t know what is the reason for it but it is bloody distracting and I hated it.
And for a series about fighting the fight scenes in Bloodline are kinda meh. Sure, you see familiar moves and the light effects from the games, but both the choreography and sound editing are extremely lacking. You don’t feel the impact of all the punches, kicks and throws which took me out of the experience. And with an entirely predictable plot that telegraphs every “twist” there is not a lot going here. The best I can say is that it is better than the two atrocious live action adaptations, but admittedly that is not saying much.
So if you are looking a taste of Tekken Bloodline may lightly scratch that itch. But if you want to see a Netlfix video game adaptation that truly elevates the source material then you would be better off with Castlevania or DOTA.
Score: 5 out of 10
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.