During the early 90’s I spent most of my time playing Street Fighter 2 in the arcade. I probably should’ve been off somewhere thinking about girls or trying to get good grades, but I mostly just played that damned video game. Street Fighter 2 was something of an enigma because nobody ever played Street Fighter 1, and yet Street Fighter 2 was a huge success. SF2 was so big in fact that instead of releasing a Street Fighter 3, the game company Capcom just kept churning out variations on Street Fighter 2 such as Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Street Fighter 2, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, and Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition. By the time that an actual Street Fighter 3 DID come out, nobody gave a shit because they were sick and tired of playing countless retreads of Part 2.
After the Mortal Kombat movie was a big hit, Street Fighter was put into production and even though it was based on Street Fighter 2, they just called it Street Fighter. A lot of people bitched and moaned that Ryu and Ken were not the main characters and that Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) hogged the spotlight. It didn’t really matter to me because I always played as Guile anyway. I could really fuck shit up with his Flash Kick and Sonic Boom. The flick ended up being a big flop and we never got to see an actual Street Fighter 2 movie. (There is another Street Fighter film in production, although it’s not even called Street Fighter 2. Idiots.)
The plot has the evil dictator M. Bison capturing a bunch of hostages and Col. Guile tries to rescue them. Meanwhile characters that only bear a passing resemblance to their video game counterparts show up and stand around and don’t fight each other very often.
While some of the characters look like their original incarnations (like Wes Studi as Sagat) most of them don’t look or act like they did in the video game. In the game, Chun Li was a peasant girl; here she’s a news reporter. In the game, Ken and Ryu were karate students; here they are whiny, back-stabbing arms dealers. In the game, Dhalsim was an Indian mystic; here he’s a meek scientist. In the game, M. Bison was a brawny badass; here he’s... Raul Julia.
The biggest stumbling block about the flick is that it’s hopelessly cheesy, silly and cartoony. It makes the video game look realistic in comparison. Having said that; the best part of the movie is Blanka; the green skinned monster that Bison creates. The filmmakers deftly combined Guile’s story and Blanka’s (in the game, Guile was looking for his POW pal named Charlie and Blanka’s real name was “Carlos”) and if writer/director Steven E. de Souza showed a little bit more ingenuity in the screenwriting department, Street Fighter may have been worthwhile. Still, it’s better than say, the Super Mario Brothers movie.
Another big problem is that middle section of the film is almost completely devoid of fighting. And then when the characters finally DO fight, it’s not in the street, it’s in Bison’s lair. So why was this thing called Street Fighter then? None of the fighting is really memorable and the showdowns between beloved characters from the game are pretty much a letdown as they almost always end abruptly. The final fight between Bison and Guile is the only decent one in the bunch; if only to crack up at Raul Julia’s “skill” as a brawler. Guile did get to do his Flash Kick a few times, so I really can’t complain about it too much. Just don’t get me started on the scene when Bison starts shooting electricity out of his hands like the goddamned Emperor.
At any rate, you can get some laughs by watching Van Damme butcher the English language. His rousing speech to the troops is especially hilarious. “Whoo whants to go hohm and whoo whants to go with MEE!”