Back in 1994, Tekken launched on PlayStation and became one of the most prolific fighting games on the new wave of home consoles. Although Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are arguably the more recognizable IPs, there’s undoubtedly a soft spot from many fighting game fans for Tekken.
Since the first entry, there have been 9 additional entries and 8 spin-off games. Oh and 3 feature film adaptations too. It’s fair to say Tekken is not a one-and-done franchise and if Tekken: Bloodline is anything to go by, it’s evidence that Netflix seem to understand exactly how to adapt a videogame franchise in a competent and respectful way.
Following on from the success of both Arcane and Castlevania, Tekken: Bloodline stays true to the source material and, in particular, the story from Tekken 3. If you’re not familiar with that game, the plot is very straightforward and easy to slip into, even for newcomers.
The plot centers on Jin Kazama, a talented fighter haunted by a horrific incident involving his mother, Jun Kazama, when he was a kid. Trained by his grandfather, Heihachi, to unleash his true potential, Jin eventually enters the King of Iron Fist tournament to avenge his mother and stop the monstrous Ogre. But is Jin strong enough to overcome his demons and fight through a litany of talented and powerful fighters?
This question consumes the rest of the series, as Tekken: Bloodline doubles down on the action and delivers some breathtaking, bone-crunching fights for good measure. Not only are these impressively animated, but they also feature the familiar little splashes when kicks and punches connect. Seeing these orange and purple bursts, alongside guards and special moves (King’s German Suplex is a particular favourite!) really shows that the creators have respectfully molded the source material and adapted it in a way to stay true to the original.
Fancy that, eh? A story that actually just adapts and respects the source material without breaking established lore and pissing off long-time fans of the franchise. Rings of Power, take some notes please.
3D anime has been a point of contention for many fans (looking at you Earwig and the Witch) and as an old-school fan of the genre I too prefer the hand-drawn animations of old. With that in mind, Bloodline actually does a pretty good job blending 3D and 2D together in this format. Some of the character designs actually benefit from this as a result, with Jin, King and Xiaoyu in particular really well designed.
Despite all the positives, Tekken: Bloodline slips up in the same way that the first season of Castlevania did – there’s just not enough story. There are several big time jumps and the tournament itself could have done with a little more down-time between fights to build up tension. Instead, what we get is a barrage of fights, back to back. It’s great fun to watch but in terms of narrative and pacing, Bloodline could have really excelled with an extra 2 or 3 episodes to build up these fights and make them a bigger deal.
Despite the disappointingly short run-time, Tekken: Bloodline is a respectful love letter to a series that’s become a mainstay in the fighting game line-up over the years. With some great fighting and decent character development, Bloodline packs a stiff punch of goodness and is well worth a watch.
Verdict - 7.5/10