More noise than signal

Street Fighter

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

First up, the treatment of Capcom’s tremendously popular, genre-defining punchy-kicky game Street Fighter. It takes a very loose cue from Super Street Fighter 2, albeit with a bunch of wildly redesigned character motivations and roles, putting them into an action adventure framework that, very much unlike the game, has an actual rudimentary plot to it. Which may or may not be a positive.

Jean-Claude Van Damme takes the mantle of Colonel Guile, leader of an Allied Nations task force entering the civil war-torn region of Shadaloo, where the forces of self-proclaimed General Bison (Raul Julia) have taken control. Leading lights amongst Guile’s forces are Cammy (Kylie Minogue), T. Hawk (Gregg Rainwate) and of course Captain Sawada (Kenya Sawada), who I’m sure you remember from… the video game adaptation of this movie adaptation of the video game? MYHEADASPLODE.

Team Evil includes Bison’s goons, Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski) and Dee Jay (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), and he’s also forcing Doctor Dhalsim (Roshan Seth) to perform brainwashing and mutation experiments on Guile’s best mate Carlos Blanka (Robert Mammone) in the hopes of creating a perfect genetic soldier, Blanka being one of the hostages taken by Bison as he demands a $20 billion ransom, which prompted Guile’s dispatch to the region.

In the middle of this are Ken (Damian Chapa) and Ryu (Byron Mann), trying and failing to swindle gunrunner Sagat (Wes Studi) and his be-clawed goon Vega (Jay Tavare) before Guile arrests them all, seemingly on a whim, but leveraged into a plot to help locate Bison and infiltrate Ryu and Ken into Bison’s inner circle.

Rounding out the character roster, we have news reporter Chun-Li (Ming-Na Wen), her cameraman and sound guy, I guess, E. Honda (Peter Tuiasosopo), and Balrog (the improbably named Grand L. Bush), with their own reasons for revenge on Bison who interject themselves into proceedings, because, well, why not. It’s not like this movie is going for subtlety.

The whole thing is of course heading for Guile and Co. to assault Bison’s base, but it takes a surprising amount of time to get there as it winds through it’s various phases of investigation and secondary confrontations, almost as though it’s trying to be a real film, albeit one with a tone that seems to get caught in the wind between comic action and action adventure.

That said, even without the whole, so-bad-it’s-funny thing, it’s plain as day that this is trying to be funny, so it’s strange that reviews back in 1994 were taking it seriously. Of course a bazooka-toting miniature Ozzie songstress Kylie is laughable. Of course you can’t take Raul Julia’s largest of all possible large hams, scenery-devouring, smidgen over the top delivery of these lines seriously. His tongue, and writer/director’s Steven E. de Souza are firmly in their respective cheeks.

That’s not to say that Die HardCommando, and The Running Man writer de Souza is completely successful in what he’s trying to do. Far from it, the intent of scenes often falling so flat it winds up being funny for entirely the wrong reasons, mixed in with some fairly mischievous scenes that do land. It is a very strange film on a number of levels, but one I kind of like.

It’s been a long time since I’ve revelled in habitually watching bad movies for ironic giggles, as life’s too short, but this was one of them back in ta day so I’m not completely sure it’s not nostalgia talking, but compared to most adaptations that take their subject matter so seriously, this is so dementedly goofy it’s tough not to warm to it. I mean, it’s terrible, but just the right sort of terrible. You’ll get much more fun out of this than Tomb Raider, for example.

If you’ve a passing interest in weird action films, this is highly recommended. Most sane people should continue to ignore it, I suppose, but those cats are boring. Live a little, watch this garbage.