Remember in Street Fighter II, when Guile dodged missiles in a stealth boat while talking like Jean-Claude Van Damme? Nor do I… How about when Ryu and Ken were smuggling guns into Asia… No, I don’t seem to remember that in the original Street Fighter either… Welcome to the world of the Street Fighter movie, where barely anything resembles the game it’s based on, but what the hell, let’s make the film anyway! Sounds a lot like the other two films I’ve reviewed in the this series so far, actually… *sigh*, let’s take a look!
In the Southeast Asian nation of Shadaloo, civil war has erupted between the forces of drug lord-turned General M. Bison and the Allied Nations led by Colonel William F. Guile. Bison has captured several A.N. relief workers, and via a live two-way radio broadcast, demands Guile secure a US$20 billion ransom in three days. Guile refuses and vows to track Bison down and place him on trial for his crimes…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
M. Bison has the time of his life while making fun of Sagat for only having one eye… Git.
It has to be said that amongst its poor acting and weirdly uncoordinated and tame fight scenes, Raul Julia’s M. Bison is a good laugh throughout. A proper campy supervillain from a bad 70s cartoon, he wishes to take over the world and have everyone buy things with Bison dollars and all that jazz. He spends most of his time on a floating platform (with arcade cabinet sticks and buttons on!) talking about how great he is and cackling at the thought of killing innocents… it’s very close to literally being nothing like the original game character, but hey-ho, it was at least a highlight!
Most of the characters look literally nothing like their game counterparts, while some, especially Vega, look spot on. I mean, they often don’t act or have any story connections with the characters from the game, but still… they look the part!
Much like Super Mario Bros at the start of this marathon, I saw Street Fighter in the cinema and liked it, but unlike Mario Bros., I later watched it on TV and saw it for what it really was: not very good…
Van Damme… Van Damme-ing it up good.
Also much like Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter has absolutely ZERO respect for the original source material. For one thing, there isn’t any tournament or much street fighting, instead is focuses on Belgian Jean-Claude Van Damme’s heroic American soldier Guile, seconded by Australian actress/singer Kylie Minogue as British soldier Cammy, fighting a literal guns and tanks war with M. Bison’s Shadaloo. Chun-Li is a reporter, E. Honda is her camera man, Ryu and Ken are gun-runners who go up against more successful smuggler and criminal leader Sagat, Dhalsim is now a scientist, and Blanka now has the backstory of other Street Fighter character Charlie, for some reason! Plenty of other characters from Street Fighter II also appear as barely anything resembling themselves, with the aforementioned exception of Vega (and possibly their Zangief, apart from being a loyal soldier under Bison anyway…)
Even ignoring how far away from the what little story there was, the acting across the board is pretty poor. I mean, you know what you’re getting with Van Damme (at least he didn’t try to put on a crap American accent, I guess…) but the rest of the cast was not up to acting, and most weren’t up to fighting! The fight scenes are proper 90s TV bad, with cut-aways, specific camera angles and other methods of actually hiding any real violence, which given this was a warzone full of fighters, is a little weird. I don’t particularly hate the campy tone, it made me smirk sometimes, but there wasn’t enough … anything else to keep me entertained.
There was a definite 70s TV Hulk vibe about Blanka in the movie…
There were a few scenes that stood out as particularly poor though. There is a great cage fighting scene set up between Ryu and Vega that is just about the begin before Guile crashes through the wall in a tank and arrests everybody. It was literally like “this bit is just like the game, isn’t it? … Boom! Too bad! Tanks and guns baby!”. Later, Chun-Li and friends have an idea to send a truck full of explosives towards a tent Bison is staying in to blow him up, but decide to send him a video message waving to him as they send the truck very slowly towards the tent, giving Bison enough time to pull back the side of the tent, see the truck in the distance, and leave long before it explodes. Man that was stupid of them…
Then there is a scene just before Guile, Cammy and the very thin and unthreatening movie version of T-Hawk leave towards Bison’s base in a special stealth boat (that immediately starts firing missiles on Bison’s radio posts, revealing its position…) he is visited by a super-stereotypical nerdy politician type who announces the world government is going to give in to Bison’s demands, but only ends up getting told no and then comically gets wet when the boat takes off… It was far too silly, even for the status quo the film had created for itself and took me back to the early 90s kids film feel of … ugh, Double Dragon. If the whole film was that light-hearted it wouldn’t have been a problem, but it hadn’t been, it had been trying to take itself more seriously… much to my great amusement!
It’s also sad that they shied away from the more fantastic elements of the games. No hadoken fireballs, no sonic booms, nothing. It was all punches, kicks and military weaponry… well, ignoring Bison gaining the ability to levitate himself towards the end of his fight with Guile, for some reason.
The best screenshot I could find of the weird end scene of the film, where everyone mimics the win pose of their computer game counterparts as it freeze-frames. It’s just… weird. Hilarious! But weird.
Street Fighter isn’t the worst, and in fact I enjoyed it in that funny bad movie way. Unlike Mario Bros. and Double Dragon, Street Fighter was fun to laugh along with (or mostly at), instead of being really annoying to watch. I mean it literally shreds the source material in favour of a Van Damme-centric war movie, so don’t get me wrong it’s a very poor adaptation, but I can’t bring myself to score it the same as the past two films. Enjoy it for what it is, and for Bison!