Paul Phoenix (Tekken)

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Paul Phoenix
Tekken character
Paul Phoenix (T7).png
Paul Phoenix in Tekken 7
First gameTekken (1994)[1]
Created bySeiichi Ishii
Voiced by
Fighting styleJudo[2]
OriginUnited States

Paul Phoenix (Japanese: ポール・フェニックス, Hepburn: Pōru Fenikkusu) is a player character from the Tekken fighting game franchise by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Making his debut in the original Tekken in 1994, he is one of four characters (the others being Yoshimitsu, Heihachi Mishima, and Nina Williams) to appear in every installment of the main series.

Paul is a short-tempered biker and judo practitioner who repeatedly enters the series' King of Iron Fist tournaments in hopes of winning the prize money and to prove he is the world's best fighter, all while developing a rivalry with the anthropomorphized fighting bear Kuma. He has received mixed critical responses for his personality and his signature hi-top fade hairstyle and has been considered a joke character following his later Tekken series appearances.


In video games[edit]

Paul Phoenix is a hotheaded American biker and martial artist who regularly enters the King of Iron Fist fighting tournaments to prove he is "the toughest fighter in the universe" while hoping to use the prize money to pay off his debts, yet he falls short of victory each time due to various circumstances.[1] In the first Tekken, Paul is eliminated late in the competition by Kazuya Mishima after an hours-long fight. He battles his way to the final round in Tekken 2, only to end up having to forfeit after getting stuck in traffic and therefore unable to make the match on time.[3] Paul goes undefeated throughout the tournament in Tekken 3, but after defeating Heihachi Mishima and Ogre, he abruptly leaves the competition under the impression that he has won, when he had one last opponent in Ogre's alter ego, True Ogre.[4] As a result, by Tekken 4, Paul's dojo has gone out of business due to lack of students and he ends up a homeless alcoholic.[4] He again enters the tournament in an attempt to get his life back together.

During the first two competitions, Paul had fought and defeated Kuma, a large brown bear trained in combat by Heihachi.[5] After the animal dies of old age, Heihachi trains a replacement, also named Kuma, who beats Paul in the fourth tournament.[5] Paul adopts a new training regimen and gets his revenge against Kuma in Tekken 5,[1] but the match leaves Paul too exhausted to continue in the competition and he is forced to drop out.[2] Again departing the tournament penniless and already burdened by his increasing debt, he wastes no time in entering the sixth tournament in Tekken 6 in hopes of finally easing his financial troubles.[6] This time, he believes assembling a team would increase his chances of victory, and so he joins forces with old friend Marshall Law and boxer Steve Fox.

Paul is selectable in noncanonical spinoff Tekken games such as Tekken Tag Tournament, Tekken Card Challenge, Tekken Advance, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and Tekken Revolution, in addition to the crossover fighting game Street Fighter X Tekken. He is an unlockable character in the 2005 beat-'em-up multiplayer game Urban Reign.[7]

Design and gameplay[edit]

Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada revealed that Paul was inspired by Japanese manga,[8] specifically a character from the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series.[9] Paul is canonically 25 years old at the time of his 1994 Tekken debut.[10] His default costume throughout the series is a red sleeveless judogi and black padded gloves,[11] sporting a scorpion tattoo on his right arm.[2] Paul is given a new look for Tekken 7, with his red gi replaced with casual costumes featuring red, white, and blue themes.[12][13] A downloadable costume for Paul in Street Fighter X Tekken resembles Street Fighter character Rufus.[14]

Paul's fighting style is officially classified as "judo".[2] GameSpy considered Paul "one of the most devastating characters" in Tekken 6, with "one of the best low attacks" and a "powerful wall game".[15] Neidel Crisan of wrote of Paul in Street Fighter X Tekken that he had "a fairly straight forward character with solid combos that may not be flashy, but do a ton of damage,"[16] but Tristan Damen of VentureBeat claimed that "Paul Phoenix, a powerhouse in his native series, is neutered by his inability to fling fireballs."[17]

In other media and merchandise[edit]

Paul makes a cameo appearance in Tekken: The Motion Picture as one of the tournament competitors, and is seen carrying an unconscious Michelle Chang out of the exploding Mishima resort near the conclusion, while he has no dialogue. He additionally had main and minor roles in several Tekken comic book series published between 1997 and 2017.[18][19]

In 1998, Epoch Co. released an action figure of Paul in a black leather outfit as part of their Tekken 3 collection, which was packaged with a display stand and an extra set of interchangeable hands.[20]


Paul got his start in Tekken as the Ken to Kazuya's Ryu, but things didn't stay that way for Paul, as more and more he became a joke character. Sometimes he's begging his old friend Law for money, sometimes he beats the first form of the final boss and leaves before the second appears, and other times he's fighting a bear. A motorcyclist with an impressive head of hair, Paul Phoenix might be silly, but he at least is determined (or too dumb to know when he's beat).

—Henry Gilbert, GamesRadar, 2012[21]

Paul has received mixed critical reviews for his gameplay, characterization, and distinctive hairstyle. Matt Swider of Gaming Target ranked him the tenth-best Tekken character in 2006.[22] In his 2012 preview of Street Fighter X Tekken, Nate Ming of Crunchyroll described Paul and Marshall Law as "get-rich-quick schemers".[23] Kevin Wong of Complex ranked Paul third among his twenty best Tekken characters in 2013.[10] Wesley Yin-Poole of Eurogamer wrote that Paul was his preferred character to play in the original PlayStation port of Tekken 3 due to his design and hard-hitting punch,[24] while Gavin Jasper of Den of Geek wrote in 2016 that Paul was deserving of being the central character in an eighth Tekken installment.[25] In an official fan poll held by Namco in 2012, Paul was the third-most requested Tekken character for inclusion in Tekken X Street Fighter, receiving 15.83% (13,975) of 88,280 votes.[26]

Rich Knight of Complex ranked Paul's "ridiculous" Tekken 5 ending second in his 2012 list of the series' fifteen "craziest" moments.[27] ranked it 127th in their 2013 selection of the top 200 fighting game endings, while comparing him to Street Fighter joke character Dan Hibiki.[28] While Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist actor Joey Ansah called Paul his favorite Tekken character in a 2014 interview, he was critical of Paul's role in later series installments as "a fucking joke."[29]

Print advertising for Tekken 2 featured the slogan: "Paul Phoenix is about to face 23 fighters. Who's the first person he should kill? His barber."[30] In 2010, Michael Grimm of GamesRadar expressed his desire for a matchup between Paul and Street Fighter character Guile for the then-unreleased Street Fighter X Tekken, citing "their awful hair."[31] Tom Goulter of GamesRadar described it as "Street Fighter's Ken [having] stuck his finger in an electrical socket."[32] Alex Langley of Arcade Sushi rated it among the "10 Greatest Video Game Character Hairdos" in 2013.[33] Liana Kerzner of rated it fourth in her selection of the "Top 8 Video Game Hairstyles" that same year: "Paul takes the title of King of the Stupid Hair, even if he can never quite win a fighting tournament."[34] ShortList included Paul in a feature titled "The Rules of Video Game Hairstyles": "How he manages to maintain such a cliff-like structure is beyond our grooming knowledge. Oceans of hair spray?"[35]


  1. ^ a b c "Paul Phoenix – IGN". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on May 24, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "Tekken 6: Paul Phoenix". Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  3. ^ Cureton, Ben (1998). "Tekken 3 Manual". Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Hamlin, Mike (2002). "Tekken 4 Paul for PlayStation 2". GameFAQs. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Kuma (Tekken)". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Patterson, Shane (February 13, 2009). "The warriors of Tekken 6: Page 2". GamesRadar. Future Publishing. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Castro, Juan (August 19, 2005). "Tekken Characters in Urban Reign". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  8. ^ Katsuhiro Harada (February 21, 2014). "Is Paul Phoenix based on Chuck Norris?". Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Edge Staff (February 24, 2015). "Tekken: The Making Of..." GamesRadar. Future Publishing. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "3. Paul Phoenix—The 20 Best Tekken Video Game Characters of All Time". Complex. September 3, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "Paul Phoenix (Tekken)". Fighters' Generation. October 1, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Seeto, Damian (February 5, 2016). "New Default Costumes Revealed In Tekken 7: Fated Retribution; Graphics Further Improved". Attack of the Fanboy. Modern Media Group. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  13. ^ Walker, Ian (February 4, 2016). "Tekken 7 Fated Retribution Screens Reveal Updated Designs for Paul, Hwoarang, Steve, Devil Jin, and Alisa". Shoryuken. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  14. ^ Fletcher, JC (March 4, 2012). "Street Fighter X Tekken characters raid each other's wardrobes in DLC". AOL Inc. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  15. ^ "Tekken 6—pep—Walkthrough & Guide—Page 42". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. January 15, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  16. ^ Crisan, Neidel (2012). "Street Fighter X Tekken Preview for PS3, 360, Vita". Archived from the original on 2012-12-06. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Damen, Tristan (January 15, 2013). "The High Horse Audit 2012, Part 2: The most disappointing game of 2012". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  18. ^ "Paul Phoenix Comics". Comic Vine. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  19. ^ Jasper, Gavin (November 28, 2007). "Fighting Game Comics Round-Up: Featuring Raul Julia, Wolf Hawkfield and Paul Phoenix!". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "Action Figure Gallery". Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  21. ^ Gilbert, Henry (October 23, 2012). "Street Fighter X Tekken roster: Meet all 55 characters". GamesRadar. Future Publishing. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  22. ^ Swider, Matt (July 25, 2006). "Tekken: A Look Back". Gaming Target. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  23. ^ Ming, Nate (January 18, 2012). "Vicious 'Street Fighter X Tekken' Screens Featuring Newcomers Paul, Vega, and More!". Crunchyroll. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  24. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (September 30, 2015). "PS1 at 20: Tekken and a devastating counter in a Dulwich living room". Gamer Network. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  25. ^ Jasper, Gavin (June 19, 2016). "Tekken: The Strange History of the Mishima Family". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  26. ^ "Tekken vs Street Fighter". 2012. Archived from the original on August 13, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  27. ^ Knight, Rich (October 12, 2012). "Tekken's 15 Craziest Moments". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  28. ^ Jasper, Gavin (May 25, 2013). "The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings: Part Four". Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  29. ^ Jasper, Gavin; Ansah, Joey (May 23, 2014). "Interview with Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist's Joey Ansah". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  30. ^ "Advertisement". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. pp. 4–5.
  31. ^ Grimm, Michael (August 3, 2010). "12 matchups we want to see in Street Fighter". GamesRadar. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  32. ^ Goulter, Tom (September 4, 2012). "Tekken Tag Tournament 2 roster: Meet all 55 characters". GamesRadar. Future Publishing. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  33. ^ Langley, Alex (July 29, 2013). "10 Greatest Video Game Character Hairdos". Arcade Sushi. Townsquare Media. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  34. ^ Morrison, Marc; Kerzner, Liana (August 27, 2013). "The 8 Ball 8.27.13: Top 8 Video Game Hair Styles". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  35. ^ "The rules of video game hairstyles". Retrieved December 16, 2016.