I actually like Street Fighter: The Movie. Perhaps like is too stronger word, but I definitely don’t mind it. I will start this debate of sorts with the films strongest, and potentially weakest point; Steven E. de Souza. This man wrote and directed this film, I imagine a lot of readers are asking who the hell is Steven E. de Souza? Well let me answer your question with multiple questions, Have you seen Die Hard? Have you seen Die Hard 2? Have you seen Beverly Hills Cop III? Well that chump wrote those films, quite simply good action films, he also wrote Judge Dredd but no ones perfect. Perhaps him directing Street Fighter was a mistake, but the writing isn’t all bad, there are a couple of plot points which are excellent, namely around Bison. Him turning around in his boudoir later in the film and looking longingly at his self portrait, something reminiscent of John Wayne Gacey’s painting is oddly depressing moment, only ruined be the set, costumes and soundtrack.
When we do these “Films based on games articles” the easiest way to measure quality in my eyes is a straight comparison to the game. This film has 16 characters from Street Fighter II, and it’s various incarnations, some that don’t even count in the game world let alone the film, but they’re there, T.Hawk and all.
Liberties have been taken, E.Honda is now Hawaiian for some reason, and he’s working with Chun Li and Balrog on a news crew, but much like with the Super Mario Brothers The Movie article, what back story is there to work with in these films? Sure there’s whatever was scrawled on the side of the arcade machine or in the game’s booklet, but that isn’t always coherent information, especially from Capcom or a fighting game.
The story line of the film is simple, Bison is a douche and Guile wants to kill him and save his best friend who somehow later becomes Blanka during a science mishap. Chun Li wants to kill Bison because he razed her village to the ground. Ryu and Ken, well to be honest they’re the equivalent of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in this movie, lots of one liners and “Uh-oh” moments as the walk into rooms full of armed guards. The rest of the characters are just there, nothing special but they do make an appearance.
One thing I cannot forgive this film for is ruining Zangief, my personal go to character on Street Fighter II, they turned him into even more of a bumbling idiot that any other character. He also has a rather surreal Godzilla-esque fight in a cardboard city towards the end of the film, I have no comment to make on this, I just feel like it should be known.
Character’s special moves are all present, being a real world film though does mean that the fireballs and electricity attacks take a back seat, but equivalents are brought in to re-create or re-imagine them for realism.
Acting wise Jean Claude Van-Damme is present with his huge lump addled forehead. His accent is questionable, but then we’ve never heard Guile talk so perhaps he does have a Belgian tang to his American accent. Actor-wise there’s only really two other people worth mentioning, the first is Kylie Minogue. An Australian playing an English character, she hams up her role and doesn’t exactly do much fighting, but she does look a little bit like Cammy so we’ll let her off….The final actor worth mentioning is the one person in this film who seemed to make their character their own without destroying all that has gone before or come after, Raul Julia as M.Bison. And after all, not to guilt trip people, but this was Raul Julia’s last film. There is an unsettling after credits scene where Bison’s hand punches up from his make shift grave, but none the less, Raul died and this was his final gift to the world of cinema.
My final point should be the easiest argument I can make as to why this film isn’t all that bad, especially not as bad as people make out, try watching The Legend Of Chun Li. That is painfully worse, and when you hold them side by side you’ll see that Street Fighter: The Movie is just camp, it’s not harmful or an abomination, it’s just painfully camp in a butch genre.