Street Fighter (1994) Review

Back in the 90′s, there were few games as important as Street Fighter. Everyone played it and your skills at the game directly translated to your worth as a person.

Street Fighter II Perfect
This is the single most important accomplishment of the Ryu player’s life

Since the game was so popular, it came as no surprise that a Hollywood film was in the works. I mean, it worked for Mario Bros, right? (No, it really didn’t.) No, the surprise came with the casting…

You see, one of the Street Fighter characters was Guile, the all-American badass. And who better to play an American than Jean Claude Van Damme. Wait, what?

I understand that there are Americans with all kinds of accents. Hell, given the right circumstances, JCVD could easily sound Cajun. The problem is, Street Fighter II was partly famous for giving voices to the characters. And Guile sure as hell didn’t sound like Jean Claude Van Damme. I suppose in the 90′s that JCVD was still a marketable enough star to deserve this stunt casting. But here in the second decade of the 2000′s, it just seems silly.

Not all the cast is bad. Ming-Na (better known as the non-Christina Aguilera voice of Mulan) is decent as Chun-Li and Kylie Minogue actually makes a damn good Cammy. But the movie fully and truly belongs to Raul Julia.

When Raul Julia took the part of M. Bison, he knew he was dying of stomach cancer. As a gift to his grandchildren, he let them pick his last role and he went all the hell out to make it a good performance. It’s a terrible movie, but every second that Raul Julia is on screen is pure poetry.

Raul Julia
“Of course!”

Bison also gets the single best line in the movie, and one of the best villain moments in all of film. Chun-Li tells Bison all about how she’s after him for revenge, about how he killed her father and that she knows he’s truly a coward. Then they have the following exchange:

Chun Li: You and your bullies were driven back by farmers with pitchforks! My father saved his village at the cost of his own life. You had him shot as you ran away! A hero… at a thousand paces.
Bison: I’m sorry. I don’t remember any of it.
Chun Li: You don’t remember?
Bison: For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.

That’s an amazing taunt. I love it.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is garbage. The story makes no sense whatsoever. It’s not like the games had that complicated of a story: A bunch of people from around the world fight in a tournament. Why couldn’t they go with that? Did they think that it wasn’t enough plot for a whole movie? Well it worked for Van Damme in Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and The Quest. Really, The Quest was a hell of a lot more of a Street Fighter movie than Street Fighter was.

The different Street Fighter II characters were awkwardly shoe-horned into the film. The Sumo wrestler E Honda and boxer Balrog are now part of a news crew! Cammy, Blanka, and T Hawk are now all part of the Allied Nations military! Dhalsim is an aging scientist! Why the hell even use the Street Fighter license if you’re just going to shit all over it?

Street Fighter II box
Well, it works better than Charmin Basic

Final verdict: It’s a terribly shitty movie, but Raul Julia makes it all worth watching. Also, they made Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. I hope someone got spine-kicked for that one.

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