Reviewed By-Paul Cooke Director-Wei Tung Scripted-Jian Zhang Chen & Biu Kei Ip Starring-Ken Chan , Patricia Ja Lee , Jacquline Li & Jun Ngai Yeung
Ever get so enveloped in a Video Game character that you got sucked into the Action ?, so up close and personal that your in screen combatant secreted from its binary code an odour only hinted at by Agent Smith in ‘The Matrix’ !?. Sit back with your surround sound amped up and fasten the velcro on the power play glove as the not so super ‘Street Fighter’, the Cinematic stain that expunged Jean Claude Van Damme to rental ronin , says ‘Bison’ and hello Big Poppa Pump to ‘Extreme Challenge’ !.
Like a colourful comic book component let lose to play to the general masses , targeting its audience with a demographic that flips betwixt Teen and young at heart , finally there is Fun to be had for all with a replay value to boot. With a prize purse of $5 Million attracting all types of free style fighters from around the world , The Power Net Show stage their conglomerate broadcast via simulcast across the Internet. Kick Boxing , Tae-Kwondo , Wrestling , Karate , Fist Fighting , Kung Fu and many other forms of martial artistry are paraded before the world press as the dawn of the ‘modem’ day gladiators prepare to do battle within this trans-global arena.
Imagine a modern day marketing of the futuristic game show ‘The Running Man’ pumped up on Chi Pep Pills and washed back with Fu Fizzy Pop , humourously brandishing its gimmick web site as www.powershow.com , for all who view to be virtual arm wrestled into enjoyable submission.
Two highly talented and opposing martial artists trained by the same master enter the competition , each with their own reasons to succeed. The ruthless cold hearted self dependent nature of Jin Fang is the antagonistic foil to the calm persona of the compassionate Kuang Kin , who places self esteem above the inherent human defects mandatory for power. Jin Fang’s goal is to win at all cost and sees no challenge to him including that of Kuang Kin , as under their masters tuition Jin Fang won a major fight competition. His dedication to his art and the afterglow of success glosses over the fact that he won without Kuang Kin actually being in that same competition. In the mind of Jin Fang he is the Ultimate fighter and his counterpart is weak , but in the heart of Kuang Kin the pride of a winner to be has the opportunity to prove him wrong. Add the girl next door attractive yet spunky nature of Tang Ning as the fighting femme character to the triangle and the vibrant hues on display adroitly combine , painting story boards to celluloid with increasingly swift brushes of Action entertainment.
With the synaptic broadband conjunct catapulted around the computer highways , and the big event Real TV junkies hooked on the events beamed live via large screens outside the arena , the Extreme Challenge gets under way. The frenetically furious pace of the opening battle to win through to the next round sets the tempo for what is to come , with the fast and the furious vining for the winning post in crunching fashion. A veritable martial arts Battle Royale explodes in a bruising super brawl to get through this first elimination round. There may be no sign of any ropes to cordon off this hypothetical squared circle but the tether of friends soon becomes a no strings attached ‘frayed knot’ team mateless no tag event !. The Smack Down is one Raw ordeal with the bruises coming out quicker than ‘Scream’ sequels , but this particular brand of show stopper will have you ‘Craven’ for more.
The fit regime of participants is culled along the way , falling to the wayside of better opponents and stumbling amongst the myriad of terrains. Multi fighting styles slug it out amidst the diversity of surfaces , each designed with great guile to both hinder and enhance the abilities of these supreme athletes. A running gauntlet that looks right at home out of the popularly syndicated television show ‘Gladiators’ , spruced up with bone crunching tackles along its route. Trampolines catapult the successful to the victors platform as they then look down with disdain upon their multi Asian counterparts putting a spring role into their steps forward to achieving similar status.
As the tension between Jin Fang , as played by Jun Ngai Yeung , and Kuang Kin , portrayed by star Ken Chang , grows so does the respect and affection between Kuang Kin and the delightful Patricia Ja Lee’s character Tang Ning. There’s even a moment for some ponderous philosophy with the classic delivery of , ‘No matter how much a watch costs it can still only mark time !’ , now you just have to second hand it to Director Stephen Tung Wai for wryly letting that moment tick in.
The power play show high kicks into top performance with the quarter finals as we get to see classic one on one combat in staunch versus mode , as visually lauded in true arcade coin op fan appreciation fashion declaring Combatant VS Combatant. Stand out clash is the Nunchaku against Pole Staff set upon a platform surrounded by water , it’s show time patrons and this is where your invested money starts to pay with bonus interest. There’s no foot off the gas come the final fight either as the neatly choreographed face off is just what you will have been waiting for.
Okay so the violence is not far off the sixties Batman show style and there are moments where sentimentality bogs things down , but the overall infusion of crazy Fun Action shines gloriously through well beyond the ‘Karate Kid’ framework , with it’s general audience rating that seems to wax on then wax off. For a Capcom jaunt down memory lane or to exorcise that lingering nightmare brought on by the muscles from Brussels , but above all else because of the pure silliness of such an escapist Funster do see ‘Extreme Challenge’. For the most part it’s a Virtual Hit.
FOOTNOTE: Okay now ‘fess up to having gone to check out that gimmick web site address and having been as disappointed as I when it really was ‘Only in the movies’. Doesn’t Reality just bite ... ! :) .
Presentation :Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1:85:1 Release : Universe Laser & Video Co. Limited Coding : NTSC Region 3 Sound : DTS / Dolby Digital 5.1 Extras : Dual Sound English & Cantonese / English Language Subtitles /
Film: 3.5 Bitch Slaps Picture: 3.5 Bitch Slaps Sound: 3.5 Bitch Slaps Extras: 0.5 Bitch Slaps Overall: 3.5 Bitch Slaps