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For as long as video games have existed, so has Hollywood’s obsession with adapting it into a live action movie. But for all intents and purposes, their attempts over the years have not been successful, commercially or critically.


This string of bad to terrible movies has created a negative narrative among fans that films adapted from games are not worth watching. And regardless of the intention or talent behind and in front of the camera, it seems like an impossibility to create a great film based on a video game.


With the release of the Detective Pikachu around the corner, fans are cautious, and rightfully so. Even with the massive marketing campaign, video game fans have already been disheartened over the years. To see their favourite characters and moments ruined on screen, who wouldn’t be? (Sonic The Hedgehog trailer, anyone?)


Moreover, these terrible movies give video games, in general, a bad rap. Imagine non-gaming acquaintances lambasting your favourite games because its movie adaptation is bad. That’ll leave a bad taste in the mouth!


That said, in the spirit of terrible video game movies, we have compiled (in no particular order) the worst of the worst that Hollywood has come up with. So, come with us on a journey into the realm of the truly terrible video game adapted films.


1. Street Fighter


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If you grew up playing arcade games, you would have undoubtedly spent a ton of time mastering this fighting game. After all, Street Fighter II was blowing up arcades back in the early 1990s. Hollywood soon came after to cash in on its popularity.


The result? An awesomely bad movie that was mired with questionable production and casting choices. Imagine casting the very Belgian (but awesome nonetheless) Jean-Claude Van Damme as the all-American Guile. Or what about casting respected thespian Raul Julia (known for his role as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family movies) as big baddie M. Bison?


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But most importantly, the character costumes were truly terrible. Each character was barely recognizable as a Street Fighter character. You’d definitely find better cosplays at just about any convention!


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And if that weren’t enough, round two of Hollywood’s mishandling of the product gave us 2009’s Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. In this case, the movie wasn’t at all any better than the original, we rest our case.


2. Double Dragon


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1994 was a good year if you loved awful video game adaptations. And this terrible movie was based on the classic arcade beat-’em-up series, Double Dragon.


Double Dragon follows two brothers who have to fight their way through a dystopian future in order to defeat a maniacal villain. Sounds good on paper, right? But the story deviates too much from the already-paper-thin narrative of the video games. Thus resulting in a  horribly corny action-comedy affair.


Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos took the lead as the brothers, while Alyssa Milano had a great early-90s haircut. That’s all we have to say about this movie.


3. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation


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Another fighting game adaptation, another flop (we’re seeing a trend here). Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was nothing like the original 1995 Mortal Kombat movie.


The sequel decided to take the campy goodness and the original cast of the first film and threw it out the window. It didn’t work. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation came out as a boring low-budget mess with excruciatingly bad acting. Worst of all, the effects looked like it came out of “Sharknado” i.e. really bad.


4. DOA: Dead Or Alive


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Hollywood really does have a thing for fighting games.


The DOA movie was released in 2006 and featured all the braindead dialogue and action you’d expect. But hey, at least you get to check out some exotic locations and “sights” (ahem). The isolated island setting provided the opportunity for some classic DOA beach volleyball.


Though, as a film, it’s thoroughly unsatisfying and uninspired. The movie is most notable for careful choreography in covering Holly Valance’s modesty as she fights topless using nothing but a towel.


5. BloodRayne



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Moving on from the fighting genre, BloodRayne was a hack-and-slash game featuring a femme fatale as the protagonist.


The 2005 film adaptation did not do well. Just look at the all-star cast which included Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and Billy Zane. There wasn’t any reason for the film to fail. But it did, mainly due to director Uwe Boll’s inability to utilize each one of them to their fullest. Add to the fact that Boll is already known for his sub-par adaptations of video games and you’ve got a truly bad movie on your hands.


6. House Of The Dead


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Speaking of Mr Boll, House of the Dead was actually the first video game movie directed by the director. And it’s this movie that sparked a series of terrible video game adaptations by the director himself down the line.


There isn’t much to talk about the movie in all honesty. It’s a cheap, unoriginal zombie-killing fest based on Sega’s classic zombie light gun game. Oh, and the movie also manages to remove any fun, tension, and enjoyment from the games in its translation to the silver screen.


7. Alone In The Dark


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Take two (pun intended). Uwe Boll’s sophomore effort loosely based on the old PC horror game was unsurprisingly not great.


Like all his other movies, Alone in the Dark is boring, poorly-acted, and difficult to watch. The story has something to do with ancient civilizations and demons and yadda… but it’s not worth caring about.


Routinely referred to as one of the worst movies made, the movie takes place mostly in a series of dimly lit environments. And it also features people occasionally firing guns at demons you can’t really see.


8. Super Mario Bros.


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Of course, we couldn’t end our list of bad video game movies without the inclusion of Super Mario Bros. As one of the first major motion picture based on a video game, Super Mario Bros. set the precedent for all of them being terrible.


If you’ve never actually subjected yourself to the torture that is 1993’s Super Mario Bros., we do recommend taking the time to actually watch it. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad, that it’s fascinating to watch. Imagine what the directors, screenwriters, editors, etc. were thinking.  


As for the movie itself, the titular brothers are played by Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, neither of whom are Italian. You wouldn’t want these plumbers in your kitchen.


Both get transported to an alternate universe where humans evolved from dinosaurs instead of primates. And this dystopian world is led by Bowser, played by Dennis Hopper.


It the plot sounds terrible and not an accurate representation of the games, that’s because it is. Seeing two guys whose only resemblance Mario and Luigi is the red and green clothes they wear isn’t a particularly fun time. Oh, and of course, the movie bombed, hard.


(Dis)Honourable Mentions


Our small selection couldn’t possibly cover every terrible adaptation that has graced our cinema over the years. In this case, here are some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut.


  • DOOM (2005)
  • Wing Commander (1999)
  • Max Payne (2008)
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
  • Need For Speed (2014)
  • Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time (2010)
  • Postal (2007)
  • Warcraft (2016)
  • Assassin’s Creed (2016)
  • Hitman (2007)


And the list just goes on and on and on…


Final Word


And there we have it, eight terrible movies based on video games. Hopefully, the soon-to-be-released Detective Pikachu will buck the trend. And if not, we’ll have to look forward to the Sonic The Hedgehog movie coming out later this year. *Shudders*


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