Hello again my dear island guest! While you may very vividly remember the day my content graced your life for the first time… for me it was wednesday. That’s right I have crowned myself General of my own island so I can wear capes and stuff! I am still attempting to review all Video game movies ever made.. and what made me experience this change is none other than the amazing Street Fighter 1994!
Double Lariat to the Lore!
Street Fighter (1994) is a movie written and directed by Steven E Souza. It stars Raul Julia, Jean Claude van Damme, Ming-Na and Kylie Minogue as it’s most well known actors. It holds a score of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 10% critic approval rating and a 20% fan approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Which is waaaay too low! Considering that Postal gets a 60% approval on RT this is so much better. Don’t get me wrong.. it’s not good.. but we are talking video game movies here! This is easily top 10. In this movie Guile is sent to deal with Bison in a..let’s call it non canonical approach to this story we are treated to what almost feels more like an 80’s set action movie than a martial arts movie. It reminded me of a buddy cop movie more than anything with an all american hero! The only problem is.. this all American hero can not speak American all that well. In a strange mishmash of scenes we get a very interesting cheesy movie that is much more fun to watch than it has any right to be. Nothing really works together and in a way that is what makes it so amazing. While the legend of Chun-Li (which I will unfortunately review soon) takes it’s lore fairly loosely… this one.. feels like it has been written by just having a few words written on a paper sheet with a picture of a handful of characters.
Guile arrives in a place called Shadaloo which now is a country instead of an evil organisation run by Bison. Here Bison wants to build the great nation of Bisononia and it’s main capital, Bisonopolis. For this he has a bunch of evil plans which for now involves capturing the innocent people of Shadaloo and asking for a 20 billion dollar ransom. Poster boy of the Allied Nations Guile arrives there to stop him. When his best friend Charlie Nash… I mean Charlie/Carlos Blanka gets captured by Bison and slowly turned into a green skinned war machine, by the likes of Dr Dhalsim, the stakes are on. Meanwhile reporter Chun Li Zhang with her camera man. E Honda and her sound guy Balrog have a hidden vendetta against the tyrant as well. Which puts them right in the middle between the Allied Nations forces and Bison. Then there is Sagat, who is the mob boss of Shadaloo! After he gets scammed by con artists Ryu and Ken he ends up in jail with them along with his priced cage fighter Vega. Guile discovers who Ryu and Ken are and decides to enlist their con artists’ skills to win Sagats trust. Sagat will be an arms dealer to Bison leading into his hidden base location. Then they can all get their revenge and free the hostages including Charlie. Cammy and T.Hawk are also there! Oh and Deejay is the second in command for Bison!
So as you can see there are a few slight changes to the story! The only thing this has in common with Street Fighter is a few names, some looks here and there and an easter egg like a movie looking..sort of similar to something people use in games. There are no super powers though. Bison can wield the power of Electromagnetism trough having Electromagnets in his gear but other than that we just get punches or pocket knives. No Hadoken, no Sonic Boom. It feels more like Beverly Hills cop on steroids with the balance of comedy and action swapped. This movie walks a bit of a comedy to action balance from the 00’s marvel movies. With a character occasionally spouting a funny line. Mostly Zangief! Who in this movie is sooo dumb that he causes a few chuckles because he doesn’t fit in this universe at all. It reminded me of Brendan Frasiers Mummy movies a bit. The tone of the world is so disjointed it feels as if we got several directors and no one really knows how the Street Fighter characters work. For example Chun Li turns into a Ninja at one point and Bison uses aquatic mines by playing on a Street Fighter Arcade Control Stick! It’s not Street Fighter but it sure is fascinating!
Sure you can’t …act
The most glaring flaw in this movie is that nobody seems to be able to act. There is promise in a few of them but no one seems to play in the same movie. Ming-Na plays a very gloomy serious Chun-Li that is your average 2000’s broody super hero. E. Honda and Balrog and Ken and Ryu play almost buddy cop like pairs including the classic motivations of one being more righteous than the others. Cammy seems to just be there to look pretty and as a pairing for Guile.. but there is no romance there and in the end he might date Chun Li?! Guile is your standard 90’s action movie. With one-liners in the line of the greats. Stalone , Arnie, and of course JCvD himself. Zangief seems to come straight out of a slapstick comedy as if he is like a Scooby Doo character. Sagat and Vega meanwhile go a bit with the Jojo’s Bizarre adventure menacing style with a bit more 90’s cheese. Basically they are Bond-Villains. Dhalsim and Blanka go for the morally grey tormented style and play this movie a bit “Power Ranger” esque mixed with some classic Mary Shelly Frankenstein type acting. Then we have Raul Julia.. who plays Bison..who leans so heavily into overacting that he seems like a comic book character or maybe even anime. I can see this Bison having Tea Parties with Dio.
Bison steals this movie! He is by FAR my favourite character and it gives this movie so much flavour. He is not playing the Bison from Video games but rather his own thing. In fact M. Bison is not the real name of the Shadoloo commander anyway. In Japan M. Bison is known as Vega and Vega is known as Balrog. Balrog the boxer is there called M. Bison as a pun on M Tyson. Yet the western world thought that would give problems in the legal department so they swapped the names around. Why they did not just change the name of the boxer I do not know but something similar happens with M Bison in this movie. On paper Julia portrays all aspects of Bison’s behaviour, as the ruthless, megalomaniac insane ruler he is. However these words get swapped around. Where game Bison is mostly Ruthless, movie Bison is more of a madman. Then his ruthlessness takes second place but being very different in its depiction as game Bison was well. This Bison is a showman! Setting up a whole thing where Chun Li tells her story and then scoffing. “For you the day Bison graced your village, with an unforgettable event, for me it was tuesday! That is cruel indeed.. but other Bison would just snap your neck for looking at him funny! We got a character that looks the same, and has the same name.. but it’s a different beast all together.. A much more flavoursome and awesome beast than that in the games! I wish this Bison was cannon! He is much more intimidating. I truly see a madman on my screen!
Unfortunately the same can not be said about Jean Claude van Damme’s depiction of Guile. His acting is very bad and barely understandable. The movie does well to steer into comedy as it plays into many actors’ strengths. It fits the goofy tone of the movie. Cammy and Guile however do not really have comedic timing as actors. Minogue has a cute line in the end and little enough dialogue for it to not be too abrasive but when it comes to Jean.. he does not have the talent or at least the timing for comedy. As a result he doesn’t come off as strong. When Guile defies the Allied Nations and their call to pay Bison.. he gives this inspirational speech about being heroes.. but it somehow feels like it is also meant to be funny.. with that guy watching. Guile isn’t funny! When he threatens a group of Bison soldiers with a tiny knife, he gives his blade this look as if he did something great but he can’t really do it right.
He has a few one liners but they happen too late! When the victim is already dead or during a loud explosion in the background. They aren’t even that memorable! So he can’t fully help it maybe! There might be direction involved here but he is by far the worst character in the movie! He really brings it down a few notches.. unfortunately he is the main character so he gets a lot of screentime. He makes the least amount of sense as a character as well.. Why would the army hype up a single soldier who fights along on the front?!
Putting the Haha in Hadoken
I really enjoy this movie, I watched it once I was really sick as a kid and I found it pretty horrible but ever since I started to appreciate the “so bad that it’s good” thing .. I love this movie. It isn’t THAT bad even it is just so camp and B-movie level that it is so good to watch. Physics in fights makes no sense. Someone flies straight back from a Roundhouse kick for example or a punch makes someone spin around so they have to resort to a move that sort of looks like that in the video game. It all seems so incredibly funny to me. For example Bison gassed his own bedroom, he has a panic room built in his weapons display to keep him safe.. but the windows of that quarter are open.. as in.. it’s one of those gridwork doors so all the air and thus the gas would flow out. Everyone blindry runs into that small little room as well. No one standing guard or going ahead to find an exit or whatever.. everything is so scripted by movie logic that it becomes a delightful guilty pleasure to watch.
Raul Julia, rest in peace, as Bison causes so much of that guilty pleasure. The way he goes crazy on those Street Fighter controls .. while we only see four mines explode is already super funny, as in he pressed the button 30 times but only four explosions happen. Yet the fact that we see a lot more mines than buttons make it so much funnier. There is no way this real and the suspense of disbelief is completely gone! Yet you see a man getting consumed by this part having fun and going absolutely nuts with it. I laughed when Dr Dhalsim got bald for no reason whatsoever but just so they can end with a bald indian and a fire ball.There is so much wrong with this movie but that is what makes it so amazing at the same time. Had we gotten the classical Bison this movie would have been utter trash but it’s not! Julia saves this movie by bending it’s tone almost single handedly to something that makes this work. You could be pissed that Ryu is a con artist.. but then this Bison is like.. “Look at me.. we are an exaggerated cartoon and your like.. I guess that is pretty funny, and this too.. oh and the fact that they mixed Charlie Nash and Blanka ha! Way to get Guile involved with lore but also with the actual Street Fighter roster.
Zangief had me chuckling out loud for the dumbest jokes. For example there is a scene where he sees something bad happening on the security screen and he says “quickly , change the channel” . It’s a classic joke but it felt so out of place and not in line with what happened before that I just laughed out loud. The chaotic tone for this movie is so great for that. That moment Chun Li turns into a ninja in a really lame set up.. where the camera causes the idea of stealth but a normal person would have had the perception! I had way too much fun for that. It does so many things wrong. E Honda gets tortured at one point and he acts like it doesn’t hurt but then it is revealed that actually it did.. by showing the rounds and they look so tiny and badlu framed that once again I laughed out loud. That happens a lot in this movie, the gun scene at Sagats hideout is another great one that had me snickering. Their stealth boat had me in stitches! So heck.. this movie sucks.. but in such a good way!
Now I could easily mark it down and say the fighting sucks, guile sucks, there is no rhyme or reason to the logic of this world. There is no consistent tone, not all comedy lands and so much more. If I objectively would count the good things I might indeed end with a score like most people give it on Rotten Tomatoes, but in the end I was entertained. I had fun.. not in the way the movie was going but I had fun all the same. I can’t say I had that much fun with Bloodrayne.. I had fun writing about it.. and thinking of bad things to say.. but this movie just kept me entertained. I don’t care that things aren’t right because they are entertaining. We often make to much assumptions expecting something to be “like the video game” or “ should not contain plot holes” but if it is fun to watch who cares? I can see some actors having fun, I can see silliness and a chaos that is not in a lot of movies and because of that I qualify my viewing experience in the good half.
But where to put it?! It lacks the total lack of the rules that Mario did, it also lacks a good soundtrack and it lacks a captivating lead. It has an amazing antagonist.. but so was Dennis Hopper. Bison is better than king Koopa but not by that much! However where you to take King Koopa out of Mario I think you could still have a fun movie but if you take Raul Julia’s Bison away from this movie it would fall flat quite fast. Where I’d call Mario’s viewing experience very good, this one is still a bit below that so it’s time to pull out your Pina Colada again because this movie sure packs some kick! I had a good time with it and would watch it again.. so to me this movie is ranked:
Some of the action scenes in this movie were legitimately funny! I liked the E Honda versus Zangief Fight, Chun Li versus Bison had me laugh out loud and somehow I was happy everyone except for like three?! Characters survived. For some reason the only warrior that doesn’t appear in the movie at all is Fei Long! Instead we get Captain Sawada played by Kenya Sawada as Capcom tried to push him as their mascotte! Fabio was considered for the role of Vega! Have you ever seen this movie?! Did you recognise the characters? Let me know in the comments?!