VIDEO GAME WEEK: Street Fighter (1994)

Street Fighter features many of the characters from the game and some of them hit the mark. Many of them don’t. And for years, I wrote the film off. I wondered, why did they pick Raul Julia to play M. Bison? After finally watching it, I now know that no one else could have played him.

How much do you really love the game? Then you’ll probably hate how idiotic Ken and Ryu are. You’ll probably dislike that E. Honda isn’t Japanese. And you’ll have trouble with the fact that Dhalsim is a scientist and that Charlie and Blanka have been turned into the same character.

But if you can get away from that, you pretty much get a live action cartoon. There’s a great scene where E. Honda and Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski, Leatherface in the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) have a fight while Godzilla sound effects play. Kylie Minogue is great as Cammy, even if her costumes are a little more modest than the video game. Wes Studi makes a fine Sagat. And the fights are really fun.

Best of all, Julia really makes M. Bison sing. There’s a great scene of him trying to seduce Chun Li in his chambers and he has a portrait done of him by John Wayne Gacy. And he brings a Shakespearean gravitas to a role that a lesser actor would not work hard on at all. The fact that he was suffering from stomach cancer (he died two months before the movie was released) is amazing when you see how much he put into his performance.

Street Fighter was the first movie that Steven de Souza directed. Up to then, he’d been better known as a writer, working on films as diverse as 48 HoursThe Return of Captain InvincibleCommandoThe Running ManBad DreamsDie HardDie Hard 2 and Hudson Hawk. He was beholden to a really rough schedule while working on the film, as Capcom had a hard and fast date that he had to hit. That said — he succeeds in making a silly take on the franchise. There’s even a Goofy falling sound effect made by one of the enemy soldiers!

Instead of the poster for this film, I decided to share the image that ends the film. It made me laugh out loud and here’s hoping you’ll find it as entertaining as I do.

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