Although quite entertaining at times, Street Fighter is one of the worst films based on a video game.
Street Fighter II was probably the most popular arcade game that has ever existed. In fact, the original version of the game sold more than 60,000 cabinets, making it the best-selling arcade cabinets since Pac-Man. During the 90s, Street Fighter II caused a video game boom not only in Japan, but also in the United States. Also, when it came out, the game was really well received by critics, mainly because the included characters were really well-balanced. Although Street Fighter II had a huge roster of characters and an interesting story, the game’s best feature was probably its flawless gameplay. As a consequence, there were many updates and re-releases of the game that included new features and smoother controls.
So if we take into account how massively popular the game was during the 90s, the release of the movie may not seem that weird. Still, its story in general and some plot elements were either completely removed or slightly changed to make the film a little more appealing to avid movie-goers that may have never played the game. The result isn’t adequate at all, and even though the film has some entertaining parts, this is simply one of the worst video game movies ever released.
The story of the film is somehow very different to the one in the games. In the movie, an international military force known as the Allied Forces is trying to combat an armed group led by powerful warlord General Bison, in the fictional city of Shadaloo. The region has been under curfew for a while, as dictator Bison gained control of more than 63 nations causing social disorders. In exchange for restoring order and releasing some hostages, the tyrannical leader is demanding u$s20 billion. Commander of the Allied Nations, Colonel William F. Guile, has traced Bison’s signal and is willing to do anything in his power to capture the warlord.
As you may expect, most characters from the video game were included in the film, though most have really weird roles in the film. For instance, Chun-Li is a journalist and a spy, Honda is a cameraman and a former wrestler, Charlie and Blanka are the same person, Dhalsim is a mere doctor and so on. The inclusion of such ridiculously large cast is incoherent and the fact that there are so many roles simply feels absurd. Moreover, every single character who appears in the movie feels woefully contradictory, especially as some of them are extremely underdeveloped, like T. Hawk. Another interesting inconsistency is that most actors have strong accents, so for instance Guile, who is supposed to be American, has a strong Belgian accent.
It should be noted that while most characters’ backstories were completely changed, most of them were given a clear personality and motivation. Still, most dialogues are ridiculous and eventually, when every single character gets into costume you’ll see how ludicrous and preposterous a video game movie can be. Costume design is terrible and you’re likely to find better versions of these costumes at some comic conventions. In addition, a couple of characters are just unrecognizable, such as Blanka who looks just appalling.
At the same time, and as in most movies based on games, there are a couple of allusions to the video game. For example, when Balrog and Honda close a barrel you can clearly see the word Capcom written in its lid. Another reference is made when Bison attacks Guile’s boat, since the evil warlord controls the missile with a machine that looks exactly like an arcade cabinet and when the missile finally hits its target Bison screams: Game… over! I don’t think most fans will appreciate bizarre and embarrassing dialogues like this one.
Something that stands out and not in a very good way is the humor. Most jokes are simply hit or miss and even though some people may enjoy some of the funny references (like Honda imitating Godzilla when he fights Zangief,) others will simply hate them. Furthermore, the film has some special effects and most of them are terrible. Many years have passed since the movie came out, but I really doubt that these effects were considered groundbreaking even then. The cast also has some really weird choices, though this is a little more understandable, as some of the actors were really popular at the time. A clear example of this is the inclusion of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue.
I find it really interesting that for a movie called “Street Fighter” there’s rarely any fighting at all and considering that the movie was created with such a specific audience in mind, there’s barely anything worthwhile for anybody who has never heard of Street Fighter before. But despite all of its problems, this is still a movie that manages to be entertaining and enjoyable from time to time. Street Fighter never reaches that level of “it’s so bad, it’s good,” but if you like terrible films, this is definitely one of those movies you should watch. In the end though, the film represents a flat and mediocre kind of entertainment and nothing can change that.