Even if Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation has its problems, this film is worthy of the Street Fighter name, offering an entertaining series of fights between the beloved characters.
Although there have been some horrid film adaptations based on Street Fighter (most notably Street Fighter and the Legend of Chun-Li,) Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie was a terrific movie that had the difficult task of bringing the fighting game series to the big screen. Even if Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation has its problems, this film is worthy of the Street Fighter name, offering an entertaining series of fights between the beloved characters.
For the uninitiated, Street Fighter Alpha is a spinoff series from Street Fighter. Most of the classic characters you remember from II are still here (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li,) but there are some colorful new ones as well. At the time of the game’s release, Alpha represented a breath of fresh air for the genre for its colorful new characters, vibrant stages and fresh new look. Luckily, most of those elements translate well into a movie.
Movies based on fighting games tend to suffer from the same problem though: they introduce so many characters in such a short time that it feels overwhelming and sadly, Alpha: The Animation is no exception to that unwritten rule. In the first ten minutes of the film, Alpha shows Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sakura, Rose and Akuma. Due to its breakneck pace, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to newcomers who have barely heard of the game.
But what about the story? As it turns out, Ryu has a younger brother in Brazil and the child travels all the way to Japan to meet the accomplished martial artist. But Ryu is possessed by the Dark Hadou which make him behave erratically, since he turns into a completely different person. At the same time, there’s a street fighting competition taking place in Kabuki where some of the best martial artists in the world will compete. After the underground tournament ends, Ryu’s new found brother is kidnapped and sent to an asylum and he and all his friends will go and try to get him back.
By the time all the street fighters make an appearance at the same time, I couldn’t help but feeling that this was pure fan service and nothing else. It was just introducing characters for the sake of it, since their inclusion doesn’t add anything meaningful to the story. Even if having all the characters fight as part of a tournament is one of the laziest ways of making a movie based on a fighting game, at least the fights look good enough. They are well choreographed and the characters move naturally and use their trademark attacks from the Alpha series. Finally, the story’s unfocused and confusing at times. I don’t feel like this is a movie where one event naturally leads to the next.
Overall, Street Fighter the Animation is a step backwards from II, but it has enough fresh elements to at least recommend it to fans of series. There are some problems: the action lacks intensity, the animation is erratic, the story doesn’t move forward in a fluid manner and characters are bland and one-dimensional, but this is still a film that I would recommend to fans.