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Martial Arts Game Sifu is Being Resurrected Into a Movie

How would one adapt a roguelike like this into a film?

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Cover art for Sloclap's Sifu.
Image: Sloclap

Those who plays video games may recall a game from earlier this year (or, if you have a Nintendo Switch, a month ago) by the name of Sifu. Developed by Sloclap of Absolver fame, the roguelike simultaneously garnered solid reviews for its combat and criticism for how it incorporated Chinese culture and languages. Now things are about to come full circle, as the game inspired by Chinese martial arts films is about to become a martial arts film of its own.

Originally reported by Deadline earlier in the week, John Wick writer Derek Kolstad is using his production company Story Kitchen, which reportedly won the rights after a “competitive pursuit.” Kolstad will also be penning the script, and continues his fairly recent streak of adapting games: recall that he’s working on shows for Splinter Cell and Dungeons & Dragons, in addition to a movie for Streets of Rage. Another noteworthy addition on the producer’s side is Jeff Ludwig, who’s also producing the AMC adaptation of Remedy’s Alan Wake.

Sifu becoming a movie would be notable on its own, both because of its martial arts combat being a perfect fit for film, and the glut of games being tapped to become shows or films. But its gameplay mechanics offer a neat little hook, and something potentially interesting to hang a movie around: when the player character dies, they’re magically resurrected where they last perished. But upon resurrection, the character also ages several years, at which point their power grows in proportionate to how much damage they can take; when they die after reaching a certain age threshold, they’re completely dead and have to start the run over.

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It’s an interesting dynamic in terms of gameplay, but raises some questions about how to properly bring that across in a film itself. Granted, we’re still a few years off from it being a reality, so it’s possible that a sweet spot will be hit between honoring the game’s roguelike roots and not messing with the kung fu action flow that’s come to define Kolstad’s movies. And hopefully they actually have some Chinese people involved in the film’s production while they’re at it.


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