Back in 1991, the arcade game Street Fighter II was probably the biggest thing going in video games. I remember taking $5 every couple days up to my local arcade “The Red Baron” and pounding every single quarter into that machine, trying to figure out and master the special moves for each character. The one character that really drew my attention was Guile, the American Special Ops soldier who had a mean blonde flattop haircut (I had a flattop too, so I thought this was super rad). I’m sure my daily $5 addiction helped fuel the millions upon millions of dollars that both the arcade games and each iteration of the console version of the game put on Capcom’s (the company that made SFII) bottom line. And in 1994, it eventually convinced them that their game was popular enough cross over from nerdy obsession (like mine), to big budget Hollywood live action movie called Street Fighter. Unfortunately, they probably made arguably one of the worst movies based on a video game that the world would ever see.
The movie features Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile, and this time he’s Colonel William F. Guile, the leader of the Allied Nations forces. It’s his mission to stop General M. Bison (Raul Julia, in his final role before he died), who is holding the nation of Shadaloo under his iron fist. Bison has also taken some Allied Nations workers hostage and is asking for $20 million in exchange for freeing the hostages. Guile recruits Ken and Ryu, and along with Kammie (Kylie Minogue) and T. Hawk, he plans on leading a force to defeat not only M. Bison, but also Sagat and Vega too! Don’t forget Chun-Li (Ming-Na) though, she’s going to try to help Guile, along with her cameramen E. Honda and Balrog! Let the games begin!
First off, I can’t believe that Capcom actually had a part in putting this film together. If you don’t know anything about the game, all the introduction of all the different characters will probably confuse the hell out of you. Assuming that you do know something about the game, the characters are so loosely based on their virtual counterparts that you’ll probably recognize them, but be disappointed that they don’t act anything like they should and their back stories are totally different. In fact, Blanka is created from someone in Guile’s past, he’s not even based on the character from the game! Street Fighter: The Movie is disappointing to just about everyone for these reasons.
For being an action movie, this has some of the worst action I’ve seen in recent memory. Besides Vega’s introduction, there’s about an hour’s lull until any other substantial action happens on screen. This is supposed to be a movie based on a game about fighting… A fighting game where each character in the game has a special ability, whether it’s throwing fireballs or diving headfirst into their opponents. None of that is even in this movie, except for Bison’s electromagnetic boots that show up in the last 15 minutes. Also, this is a Van Damme film, so you can expect 5 or 6 different angles of the same kick. Unfortunately, the action you do get to see is so mediocre and chopped up, by the time it finally gets going, I just wanted the movie to be over.
Street Fighter had a lot to work with, and it appears that it had a pretty decent budget, considering all the different actors they were able to get to work on it. A lot of them you might not know by name, but you’ll recognize them when you see them. It’s sad that Capcom had so much they could have done, but instead went with a lame story and only one fight between the main good guy and anyone else. Street Fighter: The Movie was an hour and 40 minutes of my life that unfortunately I won’t be getting back. The heavy handed lesson that the ending tries to push on the audience surely doesn’t help it’s cause. Street Fighter: The Movie earns 1.5 Ronald McDonald mutants out of 5.