Gamer Koala

The Absolute Worst Movies Based on Video Games

When great games come out and garner dedicated fans, sell tons of units, and bask in the glory of critical acclaim, Hollywood executives take notice. After all, they must think, why should the video game industry Hoover up all that cash when we could slap together a movie version and join in on the suckage?

Suckage, indeed. Let’s get into the worst of the worst. These are the lowest critically rated movies that tried to cash in on the success of a video game franchise. Note that we didn’t say “flops.” Some of these actually did manage to draw in audiences.

Lastly, we’re not including any sequels here, which are commonly even worse films. But they’re often not covered by mainstream media. So, for this list, only the hopeful franchise starters count.

10. Super Mario Bros. (1993) – 29%

Super Mario Bros. movie poster from 1993
Buena Vista Pictures

The first attempt at bringing Super Mario Bros. to the big screen didn’t quite make the same splash as the animated 2023 film starring Chris Pratt and Jack Black. But Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo were up for the task, and they are hardly the worst thing about the 1993 movie.

Directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel (co-creators of Max Headroom), the movie is an origin story for the most famous plumber brothers. But really, the film served as an all-you-can-eat buffet for Dennis Hopper as “King Kooopa”, who chews through scenery with much aplomb. While SMB 1993 isn’t a great film, there is enough charm here to make it worth a watch.

What critics said:

“It will baffle kids, bore adolescents, and depress adults.” – Stephen Garrett, Time Out

“This film’s two directors and three screenwriters have clearly tried hard to breathe life into their nonstory, to the point where the film’s intensity seems more crazy than cynical.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

9. Doom (2005) – 18%

Doom poster from 2005
Universal Pictures

Okay, we’ve got Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl “Judge Dredd” Urban, and Rosamund “Moiraine Sedai” Pike starring in an action sci-fi flick loaded with guns and explosions… What could possibly go wrong? Well, by this point, you already know the answer to that.

Helmed by cinematographer turned director Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave), the movie version of the extremely successful Doom video game series is a classic example of “a movie that no one asked for.” And for some reason, they decided that using a first-person point-of-view, like the video game, would somehow attract fans. Instead, it attracted headaches.

What critics said:

“If gaming is about playing, why would a gamer want to watch movies like this?” – Maitland McDonagh, Time Out

“Charmless and brainless.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

8. Double Dragon (1994) – 12%

Double Dragon poster from 1994
Gramercy Pictures

Still riding high off Terminator 2 (1991), Robert Patrick picked up another villainous role with Double Dragon. Unfortunately, there was no James Cameron magic this time around. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic California where brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee must protect a mystical dragon medallion from the evil Koga Shuko (Patrick).

Directed by James Yukich (with virtually no other film credits), the movie version of Double Dragon took some of the wacky character design from the games a little too much to heart. Sprinkle in some fart jokes, terrible one-liners, and cheesy action scenes, and now you have a stew cooking. Mind you, it’s not a good stew, but it’s mostly edible.

What critics said:

“Even kids won’t get much of a kick out of this high-energy, low-IQ futuristic slugfest.” – Brian Lowry, Variety

“The grim view of the future is nothing new, the special effects involve poorly used matte paintings and pyrotechnics, and the actors do far too many double-takes.” – Brant Bingamon, Austin Chronicle

7. Street Fighter (1994) – 11%

Street Fighter poster from 1994
Universal Pictures

The first half of the ’90s was something for a video game to movie adaptations. Hollywood saw money on the table as video games became more and more popular, so everyone seemed to be getting into the fray. Street Fighter, unfortunately, suffered the same fate as many of the other attempts.

The Muscles from Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, took the lead in this film, playing Colonel William Guile, who leads a strike force to rescue hostages from the evil General Bison (Raul Julia). He gets help from some of the other fighters in the game, like Chun-Li, played by Ming-Na Wen.

It was the directorial debut by Die Hard writer Steven E. de Souza and it did him no favors expanding his career options. Van Damme was the real draw to the movie, and his athleticism almost makes the movie entertaining… But it’s almost worth watching for Raul Julia’s hammy (and sadly, final) performance as Bison.

What critics said:

“While de Souza’s arrested development makes him a likely suspect to adapt a video game for movies, the result (like The Super Mario Brothers movie before it) is an empty exercise in hyper-stimulation. Or, to put it bluntly, a complete waste of time.” – Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times

“Far less captivating than the videogame that inspired it.” – Emanuel Levy, Variety

6. Wing Commander (1999) – 10%

Wing Commander poster from 1999
20th Century Fox

On a personal note, I was really rooting for this movie to be great. I was a Star Wars fan my whole life, and the Wing Commander games were my favorite space combat games ever… even before Mark Hamill stepped in to play the lead character in low-resolution, full-motion video glory.

Presumably, director Chris Roberts (who created the games) was encouraged to step into the Hollywood director role after completing a few Wing Commander games and directing the FMV cinematics. Unfortunately, none of what made the cut scenes bearable in the games translated into the film. Freddie Prinze Jr and Matthew Lillard appear to be having a good time, but hardly anything about this movie is notable. Except maybe the terrible Kilrathi make-up effects.

Roberts did not direct any future films, but he is busy working on his long-awaited space simulator game called Star Citizen. After watching Wing Commander, it’s probably for the best.

What critics said:

“Excruciatingly earnest yet convictionless.” – Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader

“These actors, alas, are at the service of a submoronic script and special effects that look like a video game writ large.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times

5. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007) – 4%

In The Name of the King poster from 2007
20th Century Fox

Loosely based on the Dungeon Siege RPG series of games, In the Name of the King is our first Uwe Boll movie on the list. It’s essentially a rescue/revenge flick, with Jason Statham (not fitting into a medieval fantasy setting at all) aiming to rescue his kidnapped wife (Claire Forlani) and avenge their murdered son.

Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Field of Dreams) takes on the role of the villainous Gallian, who seeks to overthrow Burt Reynolds from the throne. You read that right. Burt Reynolds plays King Konreid. These odd miscastings don’t do the dreadful script any favors, and the production quality is laughable.

What critics said:

“It’s as if someone had thrown a whole lot of money at Ed Wood and let him go wild, minus the angora.” – Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

“Only Uwe Boll would assume that the moviegoing public craved a trashy Lord of the Rings rip-off starring Burt Reynolds and Matthew Lillard, and only he could then manage to make such a potentially riotous endeavor so humorless.” – Nick Schager, Slant Magazine

4. BloodRayne (2005) – 4%

BloodRayne poster from 2005
Boll KG Productions

Uwe Boll again! This time, he’s dragged Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3), Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Schindler’s List), and Michelle Rodriguez (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Avatar) into the shlock.

In BloodRayne, the human-vampire hybrid title character (Loken) plots to destroy her father’s vampire kingdom (Kingsley). She is joined by several vampire hunters led by Michael Madsen, who take up her cause.

Boll went on to make two follow-ups without Loken, and we wouldn’t recommend any of them.

What critics said:

“Who is Uwe Boll and why does he hate moviegoers so? The German hack, the one-man Blitzkrieg of Bad, is the worst filmmaker in the movies today.” – Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

“There isn’t much more of a story. In fact, there isn’t any story. Luckily, Loken is there to provide something to stare at, vacantly.” – John Anderson, Newsday

3. House of the Dead (2003) – 3%

House of the Dead poster from 2003
Artisan Entertainment

Guess who’s back with another legendary stinker? If you answered Uwe Boll, give yourself a gold star. Starting with this movie, Boll went on a tear in the first decade of the 2000s, adapting video games to films at an impressive rate. But unfortunately, number of movies he helmed is the only impressive thing we can say about it.

House of the Dead was written as a prequel to the game rather than a direct adaptation of it. That’s neat. It also had the honor of being Boll’s first movie to be released theatrically as well as his first video game adaptation. I’m sure expectations were high! And I have no idea why he was allowed to repeat this cycle so many times.

The cast is almost entirely unknowns except perhaps Clint Howard, the brother of director Ron Howard, whose unique looks have landed him quite a few character roles. The terrible script, bad acting, low production quality, and ineffective scares make House of the Dead a chore to watch.

What critics said:

“There isn’t a thing of artistic value in this film.” – Chris Stuckmann,

“Boll directs the film as indiscriminately as his characters fire their weapons.” – Adam Nayman, eye WEEKLY

2. Alone in the Dark (2005) – 1%

Alone in the Dark poster from 2005
Lions Gate Films

This is getting ridiculous. Uwe Boll is back with his absolutely worst-rated video game adaptation. Alone in the Dark featured a recognizable cast with Christian Slater, Tara Reid, and Steven Dorff, but B-level actors alone were not enough to save this film.

The movie features some incredibly awful dialogue trying its worst to prop up an incredibly awful story. The incredibly awful special effects fall flat. There are no scares here, and you will find yourself wishing you were actually alone in the dark instead of watching this film.

What critics said:

“It’s just the most inept filmmaking you can catch in theatres right now, or probably all year long.” – Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

“A violent and incomprehensible piece of gibberish.” – Rex Reed, Observer

1. Tekken (2009) – 0%

Tekken movie poster from 2009
Anchor Bay Entertainment

There probably aren’t many movies out there that achieve the feat of “not a single good review.” Tekken is one of them. Though, to be fair, the movie was simply passed on by most top critics and review sites.

Helmed by Dwight Little (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home), Tekken attempted to recreate the success of the 3D button-master fighting game. Unlike the Mortal Kombat movies, Tekken did not lean into any mystical elements and instead took a more sci-fi approach.

What critics said:

“Tekken is, at least, the ultimate proof that copying the aesthetics of the videogame for a live action movie doesn’t always work.” – Sebastian Zavala Kahn, Más Gamers

“The fight-sequences — dreamlike and almost-spiritual in the original game — are relegated to UFC-style octagons, shot like shaky-cam snuff and soundtracked by Insane Clown Posse-wannabees. It’d be headache inducing if it weren’t so damn boring.” – Simon Miraudo, Quickflix