It should be pointed out that the person who suggested Street Fighter (1994) had requested Casablanca (1942). When I pointed out that I recently reviewed the latter, he switched to the former. This might be the only time these two movies are mentioned side-by-side. Ever. I had, of course, heard of Street Fighter by reputation. I have seen worse movies, though they shall go unnamed. Any film that is more difficult to watch than this 1994 masterpiece of awful does not deserve to be mentioned. Some of you who know me best will probably guess the one to which I am specifically referring, but please do not take that as an invitation to go find it. Like oil embargos and the Carter Administration, some things are best left in the 1970s. Instead, if you want a good laugh for all the wrong reasons, watch Street Fighter.
How do you take a nonsensical, side-scrolling person-versus-person fighting video game, and make it into a feature like film? By not doing any of what Street Fighter did. I do not know where to begin with this multifaceted gem of suck. There is mustache twirling villain named M. Bison (Raul Julia) who has designs on world domination. He hangs out in an apparently lawless place called Shadaloo, causing trouble for the local population. That is until a military force from the Allied Nations (is the United Nations copyrighted) led by Colonel Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) arrives and begins restoring order. I guess? Also upsetting the situation is local crime lord Victor Sagat (Wes Studi) and his primary henchman Vega (Jay Tavare). Seeking to make a quick, shady profit from Sagat are a pair of conmen (I think?) named Ken (Damian Chapa) and Ryu (Byron Mann). They are captured by Colonel Guile’s forces when he decides to raid Sagat’s operations, and Ken and Ryu are mistaken as in the employ of the crime boss. Covering all this as a reporter is Chun-Li (Ming-Na Wen), along with her camera man Balrog (Grand L. Bush) and technical assistant E. Honda (Peter Navy Tuiasosopo). One more character needs to be mentioned. During an earlier raid on Bison to free the hostages he is keeping as ransom, Colonel Guile’s friend Carlos Blanca (Robert Mammone) is captured. Once in custody, Blanca is turned into a laughable monster (in terms of its looks) by an imprisoned scientist named Dhalsim (Roshan Seth). Okay, so now you have most of the characters. I could also mention Cammy (Kylie Minogue) and T. Hawk (Gregg Rainwater), additional Allied Nation soldiers, or one of Bison’s personal bodyguards, Zangief (Andrew Byniarski), but they do virtually nothing other than take up space in scenes. Anyway, so here is what happens. Colonel Guile uses Ken and Ryu to get closer to Bison through his connection with Sagat. Colonel Guile sets this up by letting Ken and Ryu escape custody, along with Sagat and Vega, and fakes his death for some reason. Meanwhile, Chun-Li, who has a vendetta against Bison as well, arranges to crash the meeting between Sagat and Bison. In the process, her, Balrog, and E. Honda are all captured. But now it is Colonel Guile’s turn to intervene, leading one of the most ridiculous flotillas of boats in cinematic history upriver to Bison’s hideout. Chun-Li and company also manage to break free of their confinement, Ken and Ryu switch back to the good guys, Blanca is freed by Colonel Guile with Dhalsim’s help, and everyone fights each other. Kick, punch, explosions, blah, blah, blah. As is to be expected, there is a final showdown between Bison and Colonel Guile. Good guys win, the prisoners are all freed, and all the protagonists pose together for one last shot before a burning temple, the exterior of Bison’s base. The movie then mercifully ends.
If you picked up a thread in any of the above description of Street Fighter, then you are a smarter person than I, and I wrote it! Another aspect of this movie of which I am unsure is whether or not it is meant to be taken seriously. After all, the source material, the video game, is a bit cartoonish. In the same vein, there are such improbable features as Bison incredulously saying out loud that he cannot believe Colonel Guile refuses to acknowledge the petty dictator’s godhood, or that he wants to create a city called “Bisonopolis,” or that his main console for doing his evil overlord stuff is straight from a Street Fighter arcade game. Poor Raul Julia. Did you know he was dying of cancer as they made this movie? And he is indicative of why this film is so confusing. If it is not meant to be consumed with a straight face, why did they hire actors like Julia, or Seth, a well-respected Indian actor who has appeared in some major films? Look, I could go on and on about how I laughed myself silly at times while watching it. For example, how absurd is it to have “stealth mode” on a speed boat when it leaves a wake behind it?! In a larger sense, the film suffers from a tonal problem that is consistently inconsistent, if that makes any sense. Combine these elements, and you had me clapping when the credits began rolling, and you can pick a reason why.
There is not much else to say about Street Fighter, from a Faith perspective or any perspective. The good guys prevail, so hooray for that, I suppose. In a lot of ways, the film needs to be seen to be believed. I mean, you will not believe how awful it is, but at least then you will understand the mess that is this movie. You can call that a recommendation, if you like. If seeing terrible movies is not your thing, then avoid at all costs.