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Yes that’s right folks! The Film Dump is 2 years old today!. Back on April 25th I published my first film review on this here blog. For some reason on April 24th I decided to listen to friends of mine that had told me to write film reviews seeing as I apparently knew so much about films. A put my words where my internet is type bet I guess. Wasn’t money where my mouth is because I had (and still have) no money to speak of. Anyway, that night I watched Mortal Kombat… for some reason… and came to the conclusion that I had enough to say about that film to write possibly the worst written review ever created. A while back I went over the few of my earliest reviews to “fix” them. Spelling and grammar being my main priorities as one Paul Acevedo of Windows Phone Central and Co-Optimus would love emailing me about my grammatical errors. Cunt. So… It’s two years later and I spent the last week trying to decide what film should be my 2 year anniversary review. Why the feck did I choose Street Fighter?
See, I figured reviewing Street Fighter would be some sort of poetic or something, seeing as Mortal Kombat was the first film I covered on here. In reality that’s about as poetic as N-Dubz and just as pointless. Regardless, Street Fighter felt like the right film to see. In my Mortal Kombat review I spoke of how my friends and I had paid a guy to get us tickets to see the 15 certificate film when we were 13. No such memories of sneaking into Street Fighter. This was a nice, safe, 12 certificate which even we knew at the time meant it was gonna be a pretty tame martial arts flick. What we didn’t realise was that tame was the only part of that sentence that actually proved to be true as Street Fighter is neither pretty nor is it a martial arts flick. Oh sure, some people throw a few kicks and punches, but there’s nothing martial about these arts. The film of Street Fighter… the martial arts based fighting game… can barely be said to feature martial arts. I’ll explain the issues with the film’s action sequences later, but for now I’ll present the film’s plot. See if it reminds you of Street Fighter.
M Bison (Raul Julia), the leader of the evil Shadaloo army has been taking his war across the globe. So far so good. Colonel Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) if a man from Brussels with an US flag tattoo on his arm leading a international misunderstanding of the United Nations in a war against Bison. OK, going a little off track but at least Guile is military. Chun Li (Ming Na Wen) is a new reporter along with boxer-cum-cameraman Balrog (The sexily named Grand L. Bush) and Sumo Wrestler-cum-audio visual technician… I guess…. E. Honda (Peter Navy Tuiasosopo)… Jesus Christ film. Where was I? Oh yeah, Chun Li news reporter. She’s trying to find Bison by using news reporting… What was wrong with her being an Interpol agent like in the games? She could have been a liaison character that had a legit link to Guile’s made up army. Ugh. She wants to kill Bison, OK? At least that part is right. Ken (Damian Chapa) & Ryu (Byron Mann) are thieves who specialise in stealing from other thieves.. What? Their latest target being an arms dealer called Sagat (Wes Studi)… That’s it… I’ve ran out of sighs. I cannot even recap this bullshite without sighing.
More entertaining and true to Street Fighter than the whole of this film.
I’ve not even got onto what they did with the rest of the game’s near entirely iconic range of characters. Hint: It’s not accurate at all. So Guile is out to stop Bison who has a bunch of hostages and wants the A.N (that’s Allied Nations folks!) to hand over $20 Billion in exchange for their lives. Bold plan. Why does he want $20 Billion? I’d guess to fund his super soldier army he wishes to create, except he seems to already have unlimited wealth and resources… so yeah. I guess he just wants more money. Ken & Ryu get roped into helping lead Guile and his men to Bison’s Shadaloo base, which they have failed to locate on an island surrounded by radar towers in the in the middle of totally not Thailand. Chun Li is also in pursuit, asks for Guile to let her help him, which he refuses, which seems to not hinder her progress cos in the very next scene she’s doing a dance for Bison at his private party.
That there is one example of this film’s absolute lack of actual story logic. Firstly, when did nations start negotiating with terrorists over a group of relief workers? Yes it would be sad that they’ve been captured but what’s more sad would be financing the development of an army of super soldiers that could potentially kill millions. Chun Li needs Guile’s help but then in the next scene has gotten right in front of Bison despite having the same method of tracking the location of Ken & Ryu to his lair. She tells Ken & Ryu that she knows what they’re up to and then is angry when, to save themselves from being caught in a crossfire of bullets, they reveal that Chun Li and her gang were spies all along… by pointing out a video set up by Chunners to grab the attention of Bison and his gang whilst a giant truck full of explosives hurtles towards them. So, just so we’re straight, she distrusts Ken & Ryu for revealing her ruse even though she actually revealed it with her video that was blaring out a big smug old taunt at Bison. Ken & Ryu even have to insist that they are on the same side as her gang later despite them knowing they are from the start. I haven’t even gone into the fact that the gunfire that was about to go off was because subordinate to Bison, Sagat, was arguing and insulting the value of Bison’s Bison Dollars and then 1 scene later is best friends with Bison again. Oh, and the Chinese Chun Li infiltrates a military base dressed as a ninja because fuck it, she’s Asian right? That’s good enough.
So what about the way the film treats other characters from the game series then? How’s about in the most random fashion possible? We’ve already established that no-one cared enough to make sure the main cast resembled their pixelated counterparts anyway so who cares what the rest of the cast are like. With the exceptions of Cammy (Kylie Minogue, yes, THAT Kylie Minogue) being in an army, this time Guile’s, and Vega (Jay Tavare) being a member of Sagat’s gang the rest of the characters bare little resemblance to their origins beyond either looks or accent. Yes, Blanka (Robert Mammone) is a green beast, but he’s a beast created in a test tube by scientist Dhalsim (Roshan Seth) to be the first of Bison’s super soldiers. Yes, scientist Dhalsim. Pretty much the entire opposite of the yoga master we all know. But hey, he’s Indian right? And at the end he’s inexplicably bald too. That’ll do (Little pig), That’ll do. Meanwhile T Hawk (Gregg Rainwater) is a member of Guile’s army also.. yeah. Laid back Jamaican Dee Jay (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.) and former bear wrestler Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski) are in the evil Shadaloo army. Literally the film’s creators have just randomly placed any character they didn’t know what to do with into random spots. I’ll take this moment to also mention that Guile’s army is compromised of the finest collection of chinless wonders this side of the Premier League.
The ineptitude doesn’t end there though. The entire film is shot and edited like someone who had only ever seen action scenes on 90s TV. Short takes, poor locational awareness and missing transitional shots are just a few of the problems this films presentation has. There’s moments where characters will be mid move in one shot, in a different position entirely in the next so they can deliver one punch and then back to the original position after the next cut. Simple shots that could have been filmed on set are skipped as if they’re just hoping you won’t notice that Guile just teleported from under Bison’s floating platform to being stood upon it. Barring a few moments of coloured lighting the entire film is shot with flat lighting. It’s like they literally said to the lighting crew “I dunno, just put light in that direction. As long as everything is visible what do I care?). This laziness severely effects every fight sequence. The shooting, editing and lack of anything resembling choreography makes each of these sequences fall horribly flat.
It’s at this point I would like to tell you who wrote and directed this garbage. Street Fighter was written and directed by a man who, at one point in the late 80s to early 90s was on the verge of being a big name. He had had a string of successful action films in the forms of Commando, The Running Man, 48hrs and the near untouchable Die Hard. The man responsible for this terror upon what we call film is one Steven E. de Souza. Here’s a man who, at one point, knew exactly what was needed to make an enjoyably dumb action film, yet at the same time was capable of crafting a great work like Die Hard an it’s less great but still above average sequel. This is the man who dared to make a musical about a superhero that fought Nazis in The Return of Captain Invincible. But then you look at his successes and you start to see other names in the creative process. Other names like John McTiernan and Walter Hill (in the case of 48hrs). And then you see his later works such as the failed Cadillacs and Dinosaurs TV Series. The Flintstones movie, Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life, Judge feckin’ Dredd and, possibly worst of all… Gotta Catch Santa. That’s all without mentioning his involvement in Knock Off and K-9000. This is a film that had, at it’s core, a man that lacks the refinement that should have come with experience. Which means that the moment he started gaining credibility and began becoming a stronger force in a production the quality just dropped. And here he is presenting a film based on Street Fighter that has no street fights and not a single martial arts tournament. Even Mortal Kombat and Tekken got that right and they’re barely passable.
I need to wrap this review up because I’m edging towards 2000 words and it’s getting late. So I’ll spend the following paragraph on pure praise. Praise for one man. One legend. A man that went into this film knowing it was his last, did so at the request of his children and made sure that, even if you don’t remember Tuesday, you will remember the performance of on Raul Rafeal Julia y Arceley. Here he gives what is possibly the film’s only saving grace. The performance of a lifetime. Raul, who at the time was visibly weakened and dying from the illness creeping through his entire body. He went into this film knowing what a turd it was going to be and used every ounce of strength he had hamming the hell out of the script and delivering, in my honest to God opinion, one of the greatest lines ever delivered on film. There is a scene midway through the film where Chun Li is telling Bison the story of how he came to her village 20 years before and was fought off by a small group of farmers by her father who was killed as Bison escaped. After pouring her heart out Bison says this…
That, my friends is an incredible line uttered to perfection by a man who was determined to make the absolute best with what he had. Whilst every other actor in the film clearly couldn’t give two shits Raul Julia gave all the shits. Every line he delivers is done with scenery chewing insanity and stage stealing. It’s not the sort of performance that wins Oscars, but it is the sort of performance you remember because of just how amazing it is to behold. The fact you can see that he is visibly weakened at this point in his life merely adds to the legacy he has as one of the greats of cinema.
In closing, do not see this film for any reason other then to behold Raul Julia’s greatness because he proves that even something as horrible and poorly made as Street Fighter can have one, glorious saving grace.