|In Short:||Muscles from Brussels gets served by Bad Guy. Muscles serves him back. It’s on.|
|Recommended:||Will Cashin: “Should you see this film or not?” Ken: “Is that multiple choice?” Will Cashin: (audible groan).|
|BISON:||You have made me a very happy man.|
|GUILE:||And next, I'll make you a dead one.|
Video game movies are truly woeful (Note to self: I really must stop reviewing horrible movies for Geek Speak. Can we do like, I don't know, 1950's Italian-American gangster themed movies next month? Or even time-travel movies? Come on editors; let me loose! [We'll consider it. - Ed.]). The fact that there are more 'worst video game movie' lists out there on the Internet than there are 'best video game movie' lists should be of little surprise to anybody. There are so many 'how did this get funding' movies out there (BloodRayne, Far Cry, Wing Commander, Doom) and so many more that don't even make it to a general release. To put it in context, consider the best rated video game movies, Resident Evil and DOA: Dead or Alive. That's right; DOA is seen as a good movie.
I agree with most out there that Street Fighter is also a pretty pathetic film, which was doomed to failure from the beginning, being based on a video game. Which is an odd thing to say since it was one of the first international video game movies, preceded only by Super Mario Bros. (which I'm sure one of my learned colleagues is trying to convince you right now that it is actually a good film; it's really not [Is so! – Ed.]), and the universally derided Double Dragon (how you got out of that career-killer, Scott Wolf, I have no idea). So on Street Fighter's release, it had a certain unknown quality about it, which gave it some latitude to work with. If the aforementioned Double Dragon hadn't come out a month before, perhaps it would have had a lot more. What would a movie full of your favorite video game characters be like? Certainly, based on its decent box office return, many wanted to know.
First, to the things it does well; very little time is wasted on the story. Again, it's a video game, who cares for the storyline? The plot for the entire movie is pretty much outlined in the first two minutes, with a not so subtle 'news report' that tells us everything we need to know. Bad guy Bison (the cursed Raul Julia, more on this later), in South East Asia with world domination plans, has kidnapped some peacekeepers, including the friend of Guile (Muscles from Brussels) and holds them for ransom. Guile swears to kick his butt. Bison says bring it on. There, that's it. Bravo. No time wasted. More time for fight scenes. Yay.
Nor is there much time wasted introducing every bloody character. Okay, there are a few exceptions, including a long diatribe from Chun-Li (Cashin favorite, Ming-Na), about how Bison killed her father, but even this led to one of the best lines of the movie:
Bison: For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me... it was Tuesday.
For the most part, all the extra characters are 'there' and you just go along with it. That said, if the movie had introduced every character the movie would have run longer than all three Lord of the Rings movies combined. Because, boy oh boy, did they manage to fit a lot of characters in. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it perhaps guaranteed that this was never going to be a film known for a plot that made sense.
Also, tip of my hat to the producers for not making Ken and Ryu the main characters in the film, a place they find themselves in the game. I guess you can judge this one on when the Muscles from Brussels was added to the cast, as no-one cast as Ryu would have held a high-kick candle to Muscles if he had been cast as Ken. You have to remember that this is the mid-1990's, the golden years of Muscles from Brussels, a period that started, arguably, with Bloodsport, and ended, undoubtedly, with Double Team (ugh, I hope you fired your agent after that one... Dennis Rodman? Really?), at which point he found himself back on the straight-to-video list, soon to become the straight-to-DVD list along with other 90's burnouts like Wesley Snipes and Steven Seagal. Casting Brussels as Guile fitted better with the storyline, which showed that, at least early on, the producers had thought about how they intended to fit all the characters into the film coherently, and the United Nations soldier angle (sorry UN, I mean 'Allied Nations') worked well.
So with a somewhat plausible story and okay cast in place, the producers now turned to writing the dialogue. Five minutes in, they got bored, and so instead went with whatever drivel they could find inside their 1950's two-cent comics they had lying around as reading material in the men’s. If they had used these pages to wipe themselves instead of as inspiration then perhaps the world would be a better place. But alas, we have these beauties from Guile;
Sagat: "Are you with me or against me?"
Ken: "Is that multiple choice?"
And then there are the absolutely ridiculous ways characters manage to find themselves dressed as they are in the video game by the end of the movie. Bison has a costume picked out for his newly acquired captive Chun Li; Ken and Ryu get changed into red and white 'Bison uniform' (ah, no-one else is wearing them); Dhalsim's clothes and hair (whoa?) burn off in the fire inside his lab, helped along with a good old gene-altering chemical spill (but still no time for an elongated arm punch? Come on, in the game that was all I was good at). Even the other two Allied Nations soldiers Cammy (sweet, sweet Kylie Minogue) and T-Hawk find time between running gun battles to get changed (but for some reason Cammy/Kylie keeps her pants on... denied!!!). And where the hell did Bison find boxing gloves?
But really, the person who lost the most in this movie was definitely the unbelievably unlucky Raul Julia. Geez, what a way to go. You can really see Raul putting every effort he has into every line, despite surely knowing that this was not going to be one of his best movies. His Bisonopolis speech is certainly one of his finest on film. But there is only so much you can do with dialogue on par with that you find in See Spot Run. A sad thought that this was his last film; he deserved a better sending off. Instead of being remembered as a Tony, Golden Globe and Academy award-nominated Broadway and film actor, he is remembered as a flying megalomaniac shooting lighting out of his gloves and as Gomez Addams.
So, would you expect to find Street Fighter on one of the many 'worst video game movie' lists or one of the 'best video game movie' lists? Or both? Well, sad to say, it will probably be found on the worst, but I say it belongs on the best, albeit down near the bottom end, and only because good video game movies are few and far between.
Actually that's not quite true either; that statement implies that there has actually been 'a few'.
-- William Cashin