Once, while preparing for a night out, Midnight Resistance's own Andi Hamilton put on a pair of blue jeans, a white t-shirt, a red jacket, and decided to try out the promotional Fatal Fury trucker cap that he had obtained from a proper games journalist. When he came downstairs and caught sight of himself in the mirror, he realised that he had accidentally dressed as Terry Bogard and immediately went back upstairs to get changed. This true tale, recorded in the musty archives of our old podcast, is a better King of Fighters story than the film known as The King of Fighters.
The King of Fighters offers a nod to the plot of the games so vague that, if they were passing each other in the street, the plot of games would quietly mutter a greeting just to cover its social bases and then spend the rest of the day wondering whether The King of Fighters saw it at all or if, perhaps, the sun was just in its eyes. Kyo, Iori and Chizuru are all in there, waving their clans respective magical artifacts around and talking about ancient prophecies, but beyond that it's pretty much unrecognisable. Perhaps the best example is the suddenly caucasian Kyo Kusanagi:
I have a thing about films based on beat-em-ups, in that I always want them to just cut out the stupid plots and just say there's an international fighting tournament with a lavish prize. The King of Fighters actually heads in this direction, but still manages to make a total hash of it - Chizuru explains at one point that the three magical artifacts mentioned earlier can open a portal to another dimension where people can throw fireballs and junk at each other, but the good scientists at Iori's technology company (...hmm...) have somehow recorded the "energy wavelengths" produced during this procedure and can produce the same effect using a special electronic earpiece. The result is that, whenever a fighter's phone rings, they can slip in one of these special earpieces and be teleported to another world for a quick bout of competitive violence.
Rugal Bernstein, portrayed in the games as a classy, well-to-do arms dealer who crushes his opponents with brute force while wearing a fancy red suit, appears in the film as a sort of Generation X street thug who manages to steal two of the artifacts and runs away into the alternate dimension, and then (somehow??) starts to override the computer system used to determine fight match-ups and begins drawing fighters in to receive a horrible beating. He has some kind of master plan that involves merging the two dimensions so that he can rule the world using his firey fistpunches, but... urgh, I don't know, it's been three days since I watched this film and I still can't make sense of it.
I actually had to stop watching it, you understand? It was so stupid at times that I needed to give my brain some time to recover. I'm not even talking about the weird and pointless changes made to the characters and plot, but even on its own terms this film makes very little sense, waving its hands and saying "I dunno, something about merging dimensions or some shit, that's always a bad thing right?" There was one good plot point in this film, and I saw it coming about an hour in advance.
Watching this film is like being intellectually brutalised, with a degree of violence that would offer anyone who's fought a King of Fighters boss their single fleeting flicker of recognition.