Masters of their respective crafts.
Masters of their respective crafts.
Of course they have to do this when I’m at one of the brokest points in my life. Two years ago I would have pledged $500. Had to settle for just the digital copy.
Oh well. It’s real. I’m happy.
Now with not just ONE sequel that will never be made, but THREE!
Here’s to another 10 years of being strung along!
“Roll it up! I’ll give you a good idea where you can put it!”
Happy Holidays you jagoffs
Every time one of these stories about NSA wiretapping comes across the news these days, this automatically pops into my head
Gotta get something off my chest here right quick.
I’m not one to stand on formalities, but I die a little inside every time I see a forum thread titled “Yay or Nay?”
In this circumstance – when paired with “nay” – the correct usage is ALWAYS “yea”. Not “yay”. “Yay” is exclusively for celebration. I don’t care how much of the Myspaz/Twatter generation does it. I don’t care that language evolves through use and changes constantly. This one aspect of it shouldn’t, because it looks fucking ridiculous.
Granted “yea” is archaic and this is pretty much the only modern, relevant use of it left (unless you’re putting on an early modern English accent for some reason). But language is the greater part of culture, so could we maybe please not keep actively reducing culture to this level :
Street Fighter: The Movie has been out for almost 20 years now. When it first came out, even as a kid who thought Street Fighter was THE COOOOOOOLEST at the time, to my friends and I this thing was an object of scorn and derision. It was ridiculous and cheesy even to its target audience in 1994.
So … since it was a joke from the jump, I’ve never actually seen it. But now, in 2013, the stars finally aligned … because it happened to be on TV when I was in a very loafy mood.
There was some reason to be optimistic. Van Damme movies from the late 80s-early 90s are one of my guilty pleasures, after all. Raul Julia is charming and charismatic in everything he was ever in. It was written and directed by the guy who wrote Die Hard and Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. It has that colorful vibe of moderately entertaining 90s cheese like Demolition Man and Judge Dredd. This might not be all bad, right?
The big structural change here from game-to-movie is that instead of an Enter The Dragon-esque tournament, Bison’s private army is wreaking havoc in Shadaloo, which is now apparently a SE Asian nation instead of Bison’s crime syndicate. Guile tags in as the primary character; the story centers around his United Nations military unit’s attempts to shut Bison down.
Let’s see what we’re working with here:
Jean Claude Van-Damme as Col. William Guile
The Frenchie plays the American, who supplants the Japanese as the main character. Van Damme had an established pedigree of mush-mouthed delivery, posey kicks and gratuitous splits prior to this; you know what you’re getting here. To his credit he does seem to embrace the ridiculousness of the whole concept, and plays the character with an entertaining give-no-fucks sort of attitude.
Raul Julia as M. Bison
This role was beneath Julia. He and everyone else involved knew it. On top of that, he was battling advanced stomach cancer at the time of filming. He had every reason to pull a Laurence Olivier with this project and I don’t think anyone on Earth would have blamed him. Instead, like Van Damme, he embraces the cheese, except x10. His hammily enthusiastic performance is the central energy that makes the movie work … on whatever level it actually works. Spiff pleather dictator outfit too. Love the hat.
Ming Na-Wen as Chun-Li
Ming Na-Wen is the other “name that was probably too big for a movie like this” in this film. Granted, in 1994 she wasn’t AS big a name, she hadn’t done Mulan and all that yet, but she had just done the Joy Luck Club the year before, so it’s at least a little weird. As it turns out, however, it’s a great casting. She takes the role seriously, actually acts, and even better actually looks the part! It looks like she maybe even put a little arm and leg muscle on specifically for this role. Nice costuming work here too – note the understated spiked bracelets.
Byron Mann as Ryu / Damian Chapa as Ken
Two guys from pretty much out of nowhere, with only a handful of minor TV and action movie roles prior to this. In this Street Fighter universe, Ryu and Ken are petty hustlers who try to sell a bunch of Nerf Blasters to Sagat or something. Eventually they get embroiled in some plot to lead Guile’s forces to Bison’s hidden base, and take on a more meaty role in the story toward the end. I give both a solid Meh, though it’s not anything the actors are doing in particular. Neither one really looks the part at all, they’re given a reduced role in the story with not a whole lot of interest happening to them, and there’s nothing remarkable about their acting.
Kylie Minogue as Cammy
Those of you in your early-20’s-ish or younger may not know who this is. If you’ve ever been in a gym even once in your life for five minutes, however, you are familiar with her musical career. She’s actually Australian, but whatevs. She never had much of an acting career, but she’s really one of the more solid members of the cast here. She’s Guile’s right-hand woman and initially it looks like she’s going to be relegated to a bit part, but towards the end she starts kicking just rich amounts of ass and basically kills all of Bison’s henchmen by herself.
In fact, she does such a nice job, let’s take another look –
Wes Studi as Sagat and Jay Tavare as Vega
Look, you’re going to have a hard enough time just finding a tall enough, muscular enough physical specimen who is middle-aged and looks like Sagat, much less finding one with the acting chops to handle a substantial speaking role. Wes Studi doesn’t have the physique but otherwise gets the look. They give him a little backstory as being a former fighting champion who is now retired and primarily a gun dealer, so he’s not burdened with much fighting. Jay Tavare as Vega is a solid casting. He has the physique, he looks … well, more Native American than Spanish but close enough to pass, he handles his fight scenes pretty well. They also restrict him to only one line of dialogue in the whole thing – “wur wur we” – so that’s not a problem either. Vega doesn’t really need to talk when you think about it.
Pretty sure these two also have something going on and Vega is the bottom. Which is totally fine.
Grand L. Bush as Balrog and Peter Tuisasopo as E. Honda
Initially these two guys are the camera crew in Chun Li’s journalist/ninja operation and look like they’re going to be reduced to non-combatant bit roles as well, but they get heavily involved in the action in the big melee at the end. Balrog shifts from heel in the games to face in the movie here, and Honda is a Pacific Islander of some sort instead of Japanese.
Unclear if Peter is related to the Tuisasopo that was Mante Te’o’s girlfriend for a while.
Andrew Bryniarski as Zangief
Bodybuilder that looks the part and even gets a decent accent going. Fairly minor role though.
Roshan Seth as Dhalsim
Everyone seems to think this is Ben Kingsley. This is not Ben Kingsley.
I guess the stretchy yoga effects were cost-prohibitive, as Dhalsim is reduced to a non-combatant scientist working under duress for Bison in this one. He does whack a dude with a fire hydrant or something at some point though.
Miguel A. Nunez as Dee Jay
This is the second-weakest casting; the character is kind of here just to be here. He’s a Bison lieutenant, but he never fights. He does end up being one of my favorite characters, though. More on that later.
Robert Mammone as Blanka
… And this is the weakest character by far. This is actually two characters weirdly rolled into one; he starts out as Charlie Nash, captured by Bison’s forces at the very beginning, and is then mutated as part of a “super soldier” project into Blanka. The movie sets this up like it’s going to be some major plot hinge / eventual showdown between Guile and Blanka, but then it just kind of fizzles out pointlessly towards the end. Probably for the best as he looks really, really goofy.
Gregg Rainwater as T. Hawk
Welp. Maybe I spoke too soon. “T. Hawk” is pretty bad too, but it’s hard to care because he’s barely in the movie. He pops up with Guile and Cammy as they make their initial run on Bison’s base late in the movie, then you really don’t see him again. Judging by his last name I assume the guy really is of legit and significant Native America descent, but in this movie he looks like one of those white dudes who is 1/16th Cherokee on one side of his family or something, and uses that as an excuse to wear headbands and necklaces.
More Kylie Minogue in this shot because Moar Kylie Minogue
Fei Long does not exist in this movie. Nor does Akuma.
So the movie takes place in a world where not only does the U.N. have an army, but army commanders cut wrestling promos at each other on the news. I kinda want to live in this world tbh.
We quickly move to the sub-plot about Ryu and Ken selling Sagat a bunch of Nerf Ballzookas. He sentences them to fight Vega in the arena for the amusement of his gambling patronge. Before we can even get a ROUND 1! FIGHT!, however, Guile crashes through the wall and arrests the entire joint. Apparently we’re in the parallel universe where the U.N. un-Nazied the world and now has incredible international extrajudicial powers.
Guile’s cunning plan is to let Sagat and his crew escape, making it look like Ryu and Ken masterminded the whole thing and killed him in the getaway, thus getting them into Sagat’s good graces, who then leads them to Bison’s secret base. The Chun Li Ninja News Team is also running around in the middle of this. Chun Li hucks a tracking device on the fleeing Sagat truck so they can all get embroiled in this situation too. You would think maybe surveilling Sagat over time instead of crashing into his bar with a Humvee at the last possible minute would have been a better alternate strategy for finding Bison, but I’m not Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Actually, at this point, the movie entirely stops trying to make sense, so I’m not even going to bother trying either. Ryu, Ken, Chun, E. Honda and Barlog end up imprisoned at Bison’s base. Bison delegates his subordinates to beat info out of E. and B. while retiring to his quarters for a leisurely rape of Chun Li. In one of the legitimately weirdest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie, Bison casually slips into something more comfortable and puts on Barry White music in an attempt to seduce Chunners, all while she rather casually recounts the story of her father’s murder and her burning quest to kill Bison for the last 20 years.
Bison’s “seduce first, but if that fails, there’s always the raping” strategy backfires on him when Chun Li snaps her finger cuffs and proceeds to whoop his ass all over the place. The rest of the crew shows up, but Bison escapes into the tubes from This Island Earth and gasses them all back into captivity.
Meanwhile Guile revives from the dead in plain view of everyone, kind of a dick move considering Ryu and Ken were still in enemy territory and he had no idea at this point what their status was, but whatevs … some U.N. bureaucrat shows up and tries to jam up his party with things like “orders” and “international law”, but Guile first questions his testicular fortitude:
Then gives a rousing speech to the troops:
Before taking his private Cobra Triangle gunboat directly to Bison’s conveniently riverside base.
From here it’s just your standard all-out assault on the base, culminating in everyone escaping from it as it collapses around them, and Guile and Bison having their one-on-one showdown. If Bison couldn’t handle Chun Li he certainly isn’t gonna do anything with Leo the Lionheart.
America, Fuck Yeah.
Unfortunately, while Guile is giving orders, some ridiculously complex life support system hidden in Bison’s pleather not only revives him, but gives him Iron Man powers somehow. He flies around the room doing janky Psycho Crushers for a while before Guile finally kicks him in the face to end the movie.
So as previously mentioned, this was written and directed by Stephen E. de Souza, who wrote the first Die Hard. I love that movie, I watch it once a year at Xmas. So I had at least some small amount of hope going in. If you listen to the DVD commentary, however … it turns out de Souza apparently wrote the script in one night. Now, obviously they went back for at least some revision given that 15 of the 16 playable characters of the Super SF2 era show up, and a wealth of little details from costumes to obscure moves find their way into the movie. But still. The fact that the guy is openly bragging about writing the script in one night says volumes about the level of regard this project was held in and the effort that went into it.
The second major problem is that the vast majority of the cast can’t actually fight. They have neither a martial arts background nor action movie fight choreography experience. So this leads to a first 3/4 of the movie with very little action, and a final 1/4 filled mostly with clumsy gunplay and a handful of fight scenes full of quick jump-cuts and extreme close-ups to hide the fact that stunt doubles are doing most of the moves.
I don’t think Capcom’s heavy hand in the production should be discounted either. Apparently, they insisted that all the characters from the Super SF2 roster (except Fei Long apparently, due to the fact that he was basically Bruce Lee) be in the movie. That’s why you get the clumsy shoehorning of otherwise pointless characters like T. Hawk and Dee Jay. Despite being a total non-combatant and nothing like the source material (aside from being Jamaican), however, I like Dee Jay simply because he provides a couple of the movie’s best genuine moments of levity. As Bison’s base is crumbing and he’s delivering one of his grandiose speeches to no one in particular, Dee Jay just gives him this look like “Uh whatevs nigga” and casually wanders out behind his back. He ends up deciding to steal Bison’s personal money stash on the way out, and as the base is collapsing around him he has a great throwaway line about “I should have stayed at Microsoft!” or something like that. Hey, you gotta appreciate the small things in a stinkbomb like this.
Capcom also tried to really force this previously unseen Captain Sawada character into the production, apparently as they insisted on a Japanese action star having a visible role. Their choice was actor Kenya Sawada, who had the look and skills to actually make a better Ryu, but … erm … to be as polite as possible, he struggles with English. Every scene he’s in seems weird, gratuitous and poorly cobbled in. His heavy-handed inclusion also does lead to one of the movies geniunely intentionally funny moments, however.
Street Fighter is inarguably a mess. It was made hastily, Capcom clumsily diddled in the production when they had no movie experience, and the lack of emphasis on one-on-one fighting for a goddamn Street Fighter movie is unforgivable. It does a few small things right, however, and more importantly it does most things wrong in the right way; that is to say, still entertaining, whether intentional or not. It’s not the painfully boring plod that an Ed Wood or most of your Uwe Boll movies are.
It’s probably not worth paying money for, but it is worth seeing for one other reason if no other; to pour a virtual 40 out on the curb for Raul Julia. As seen toward the end of the video linked just above, Julia’s main reason for doing this movie was that his kids/grandkids were so excited about it when he was offered the part. He may roll his eyes at some of the terrible dialogue, but he throws himself into the part with zest; perhaps knowing it was his last role, perhaps knowing it might be his kids last memory of him.
* snif *
… Excuse me … dusty feels in here all the sudden