Movies Based on Video Games… The Greatness That Was and Still is

There’s nothing better than a good, bad movie. I know what you’re thinking, “but Chris, what about the first time I held my baby, or the first time my now wife and/or husband (kids are cray these days) said I love you?” Well, those all sound like sweet moments, but nothing compares to the first time I heard…

When I heard the words, “Hi, Mark” for the first time, the albino vampire known as Tommy Wisseau swept me off my feet and took me to a magical place of cinematic bliss. The reason I bring this is up is because the latest video game to movie adaptation, Tomb Raider, just released it’s first trailer and it looked awful. The fact that Hollywood can’t seem to get this type of film figured out is incredibly frustrating because quite frankly they should know better. There was a time though, when they simply didn’t know better and for a few short years, video gamers were treated to some of the most “amazing” films ever made.

Through out all of the 90’s, as the video game industry began to grow in popularity, Hollywood took notice and started turning some of our favorite games into films. Mario Brothers, Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat 2 were all must see for little kids like myself who didn’t know any better. There was also a movie called Wing Commander but that was a PC game and I was a console kid. In other words,  I didn’t know that movie was based off a video game until I was an adult.

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Now, with all of the twitters and facebooks, people are quick to say that those movies, with the exception of the first Mortal Kombat, are all bad. Those people would be wrong. Is Super Mario Brothers a bad adaptation? It sure is. As a 5 year old kid when it came out though, I didn’t care or even realize it’s shortcomings. For me, the movie was called Super Mario Brothers, the main characters were plumbers named Mario and Luigi, the bad guy is King Koopa, and at the end of the movie Mario uses a bob-omb to save the day and that’s all I needed as kid. As an adult, I would argue that the movie is even better because of how ridiculous it is.

Bob Hoskins, a white Englishmen, and John Leguizamo, a Columbian born actor, are cast to play brothers and not just brothers but ITALIAN BROTHERS. Dennis Hopper has spiky hair and is playing some sort of dinosaur-human hybrid. He also has a gun that looks an awful lot like the Super Nintendo Scope that he uses to turn a man into a monkey. On top of that, there are also the “goombas” that are these giant hulking figures with tiny heads. They’re just adorable. And honestly, that’s what this movie is, it’s just adorable and such a fun time.

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1994 is one of the greatest years in cinema and with the release of Double Dragon and Street Fighter, it really makes that statement hard to argue. With Ninja Turtles at it’s height of popularity and Power Rangers a year into it’s run, it makes sense that Hollywood would try and find something, anything that could trick kids into thinking another movie was just as cool. Now, even as a six year old kid, I knew these movies weren’t as great as Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles but I liked watching people kick other people in the face and these movies had plenty of that… also explosions, so many explosions.

Looking back on these two films, it’s hilariously awesome watching all-American hero Guile be played Jean-Claude Van Damme. I’m not one to make fun of such a great actor, but in 1994, Mr. Van Damme was still trying to lock down the English language so the fact that he’s playing Guile is just amazing. If you haven’t seen the speech he gives right before the films climax, you have to watch it. It rivals the Independence Day speech for greatest of all time. And before I move on from Street Fighter I would be mad at myself if I didn’t just remind everyone that everything Raul Julia does as M. Bison is just amazing.

As for Double Dragon, watching Terminator 2 bad guy Robert Patrick walk around looking like Vanilla Ice is really all anyone could ever ask for. And for those of you who may have missed out on the Double Dragon game there is a character named Abobo that was a tall muscular man that would pick up your character and throw them through the air. In the film, to everyone’s delight, Abobo looks less like the World’s Strongest Man and more like that rubber poop monster from the Kevin Smith movie Dogma. But just like Tommy Wisseau, it’s so bad, it’s great.

I mentioned Mortal Kombat in my list of 90’s video game movies, but I don’t think it would be very fair to only spend a paragraph on the holy grail of video game movies. With Great acting, music, effects, fighting, and memorable characters, it would be a shame to spend such a little amount of time on something that not only me as a weird little kid lovedm but all of my friends loved too. Seriously, this movie was the talk of my school when it came out and it’s sequel was one of the most anticipated movies for all of my friends. So what happened? Why aren’t there 10 other Mortal Kombat movies? Well, like I said, it would be a mistake to spend just a paragraph on Mortal Kombat, so I guess this is a story for another time.

Ah, 90’s video game movies. Something I didn’t realize I loved so deeply until I started preparing for this article. There really is just a weird sense of innocence and ignorance to these films because everyone involved simply had no idea what they were doing. If you haven’t had a chance to see these films yet, gather a group of your friends, and be prepared to have a great time. After all, it’s better than the alternative which is watching modern day video game adaptations and getting frustrated with Hollywood’s constant failures at turning the games we love into fun movies.

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