To promote The King of Fighters (KOF), a popular game franchise that it recently acquired the licence to, Tencent looked to the game’s cultural homeland of Japan.
A short film called ‘Absurd Reality’ presents three scenarios of people rising up to take on their oppressors. Developed by Goodzilla Shanghai, it was shot entirely in Japan, directed by Show Yanagisawa (of ‘Gravity Cat’ fame) and produced by Dictionary Films in Tokyo. Post-production was by Cutters Tokyo.
Tencent is currently relaunching the game for mobile worldwide. It first came out in 1994 as an arcade game under SNK, with the most recent version appearing in 2016.
Peter Grasse, who worked as executive producer on the film but has since left Dictionary to pursue his own venture, noted that the game was an important part of Japan’s modern cultural heritage.
Grasse said it was commendable that Tencent did not simply try to “fake Japan in China”. He said that Tencent and its agency Goodzilla took a very “hands-off” approach and essentially left Yanagisawa to his own devices. He added that the film had been shot under physically challenging conditions, “in the middle of a typhoon”.
Campaign’s view: The film is visually arresting and atmospheric, as befits a legacy game that ranks alongside the likes of arcade favourites Street Fighter and Tekken. The use of live action helps modernise something that people have come to associate with exaggerated anime aesthetics. Tencent no doubt recognises the importance of paying respect to a property that is a source of pride for Asia and still has a considerable following, and the film benefited from the creativity of a highly accomplished director and Japan's generally high production values.