The early 90s was a great time for video games, 16-Bit consoles like Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were dominating the home market while arcades were still going strong, around this time, the fighting game genre was at full swing, and the two major players that kickstarted this craze were Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
Both of these games caught players' attentions for different reasons; Street Fighter II for its speed and gameplay, and Mortal Kombat for its large amount of blood and gore.
The games became extremely popular, that they were put everywhere; comic books, action figures, etc. Eventually, film executives started seeing potential in these two fighting games, and thus, they were adapted into live-action movies, one good, the other bad. Let's begin in chronological order by starting off with the bad one of the two; Street Fighter.
Upon it's release, Street Fighter was swamped with negative reviews by critics, and managed to disappoint hardcore fans of the video game, it also didn't fare much better financially (despite it doing better worldwide). Why exactly did this movie fail? Let's find out.
The plot is extremely standard, Colonel William F. Guile (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) leads a group of fighters to rescue dozens of relief workers held hostage by the power hungry dictator General M. Bison (played by Raul Julia), who is holding the hostages for a ransom of $20 billion that must be delivered in 3 days, or else he will kill the hostages.
The first major issue with the film was essentially staying away from the video game, and focusing on Guile, when in the video games, the main protagonists were Ryu and Ken, whom in the film, have been rewritten as a pair of con men, a large part of this is because Guile is played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, whom has a thick Belgian accent, and is supposedly playing the all-American fighter from the video game, Van Damme has given better performances (especially in Timecop and JCVD), and doesn't even attempt to hide the accent. Most of the dialogue he's given is pretty stupid anyways.
Throughout the film, we see a lot of the other characters from the video game, and literally every one of them have been changed around as well; Dhalsim is a scientist, Chun-Li is a news reporter, Balrog is a good guy and Chun-Li's cameraman as opposed to being one of Bison's followers like in the games, the list just goes on.
Besides Van Damme, most of the other actors are also miscast, the worst choice being the guy who plays Ken, who looks more like Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat. The best actor in the film is Raul Julia as M. Bison, whose performance is so over-the-top that it's theatrical. Sadly, this would be the last film he ever made as Raul passed away several weeks before the film's release.
When going into a film like this, one might wonder how are the fight scenes. Well, to tell you the truth, for a movie called Street Fighter, there's barely any kind of street fighting going on, and when they do get to it, the fight scenes are badly choreographed, and feel rushed, it's obvious most of the actors don't know how to fight (except for Van Damme).
The film also tries to be campy and humorous, in some aspects, it works, but other times, the campiness is a bit cringe worthy and can turn you off easily unless if you enjoy camp humor a la the 60s Batman show.
If this movie wasn't bad enough, it spawned a god-awful animated series, and a video game literally titled Street Fighter: The Movie...so that's basically a game based on a movie based on a game...the game sucked anyways.
While not the worst video game movie ever made, and it does offer some hilarious moments (both unintentionally and intentionally), and a stellar performance from Raul Julia, Street Fighter fails due to its deviation from the game, a by-the-numbers plotline, poor casting, and poorly done fight scenes. Overall, this is a film Street Fighter fans can do without.
To be continued in part 2