The Movies That Played You

Next time you're sat opposite a Hollywood producer, try pitching him a film about a fisherman who takes on a four-armed prince who rules over an elite army of warriors. If he knows his stuff, he'll reject it because just such a confrontation has already taken place in the movie "Mortal Kombat". And the only reason that film ever got made is because it was based on the incredibly successful video game.

"Mortal Kombat" was one of the few examples of a film adaptation of a console or computer game that went onto modest box office success. Just two years earlier in 1993, Imperial Entertainment nearly wiped themselves out after plunging millions into the ill-fated, if vaguely entertaining "Double Dragon", based on Taito's classic coin-op. This didn't stop Capcom taking a bath a year later on the crummy "Street Fighter", which paired Jean-Claude Van Damme alongside Kylie Minogue, and sadly offered Raul Julia his last role.

Clearly, talent does not a wise actor make. After all, who's ever going to forget that Bob Hoskins starred in "Super Mario Bros" back in 1993? It's a lousy claim to fame to have appeared in a movie even worse than all of the above. Not that there isn't competition. "Wing Commander" (1999) starring Freddie Prinze Jr ranks as a stunningly dull adaptation of an otherwise exciting computer game.

Has this put off Hollywood? Of course not. "Mortal Kombat" did well, so it's no surprise that director Paul Anderson is working on "Resident Evil" with acting babe Milla Jovovich. Whether it will fare better than the impending "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", starring Angelina Jolie or the totally digital "Final Fantasy" has yet to be seen. Their box office performance could affect the proposed adaptations of "Duke Nukem", "Parasite Eve", and "House of the Dead". Of course, that's assuming that Hollywood learnt something about the last rash of video game movies first time around.