“No, absolutely not!” - This phrase will comfortably answer two distinct questions right off the bat so that the review can commence and they are -
1. Is this a good film?
2. Am I going to be kind?
The film centres around a dictatorship in the fictional land of Shadaloo by evil dictator M.Bison who is the final boss in the Street Fighter II game. Bison and his team of evil doers who are made up of select characters from the game and swarms of nameless grunts are causing havoc in the country by taking hostages, doing shady deals and generally trying to be bastards like all good baddies should. Trying to foil Bison is Colonel William Guile and his team, also made up of characters from the game and that's about it as far as story goes.
This would be the best word to describe this absolute train wreck of a film. Just to clear things up, I adore low budget 80's and 90's action/martial arts films. They have a quality that is so pathetic and funny yet is backed up with tremendous action and fight sequences and the reason they are like this is because they are trying to be serious. Street Fighter has none of this charm! The film was not made to be good, it was not made to stand the test of time or reach for any awards or even please fans, it was simply a quick cash making effort with the name of an immensely popular game. The cry of “but it was made for kids though” races through me like a bad STD on a slow night. Kids are and never were stupid when it came to their passions and they know when they are being taken for dipshits by adults.
To start with the film looks dreadful! A scattered assortment of tents, boxes and scabby buildings make up the wobbly sets giving the whole film a cheap, muddy and grubby look that just doesn't work and bears no resemblance in either look or feel to the game. King Of The Kickboxers probably had a fraction of the budget of this film and looks ten times better with genuine Thai locations and vastly superior fights. The costumes look like they were all made the night before by the cast's mothers and aside from all looking far too new, they don't fit very well and would be better suited to a high school pantomime.
The script is laughable, chock full of crap one liners, crowbarred in to attempt to get the 8 year olds in the audience to laugh and probably failing miserably. One would expect a lot more from the man who penned the screenplay for such classic films as Die Hard, Commando, The Running Man and 48 hrs and while there are 'occasional' moments of smile inducing phrases it's lost in a sea of banality and piss poor delivery. Then comes the changes.......the many changes! Street Fighter II should have been what the game was, an Enter The Dragon style tournament which, while not being original in any way, would have more than kept the feel of the game rather than the crappy dictator style story. Ryu is now an American, Guile is now Belgian, Sagat is Native American, Honda is Hawaiian, Dhalsim a Doctor and mid way through we are faced with a malnourished Blanka in a bad body paint job who seems in desperate need of some Rogaine. Vega does look pretty accurate I will admit but doesn't actually do much within the film itself. The budget for the film looks like it went straight into the cast's pay cheque with Wham-Bam-Van Damme's name plastered on posters with the intent to draw in punters based off his rather excellent back catalogue of films. The rest of the cast are made up from porridge bland unknowns and supporting actors of bigger films with only Kylie Minogue having any real star power besides Van Damme.
It's really hard to like Street Fighter, even as a bit of fun because it's such a poorly tacked together piece of filmmaking that simply doesn't care about whether it is a quality product or not but is it really all THAT bad?
No, not by a long shot. There are far worse films than Street Fighter out there and yes it does have it's good points, the main one being the absolutely wonderful Raul Julia. Not one single fuck is given by this glorious man as to what kind of crap he is appearing in and he attacks every line of his dialogue with gleefully over the top theatrics and is not only a joy to watch but looks like he is having immense fun doing it. Seeing Kylie Minogue is never (ever) a bad thing either and to be fair she's not altogether miscast as Cammy although her role is a touch minimal. A good moment in an interrogation scene with Honda stands out and the merging of Guile's friend Charlie (who was briefly mentioned only by name in the game) and Blanka is rather a clever one and the final frame of the film is a rather nice tribute to the game itself but unfortunately these good points are but sprinkles of sugar on a rather sizeable turd cake and comes no-where near saving the film in any way.
If however you crave Street Fighter II specific action on screen then I highly recommend the superb Street Fighter II: Assassin’s Fist mini series which is a tremendously serious and dramatic take on the lore of Street Fighter II and is happily not aimed at kids one bit. Also highly worth checking out is the Street Fighter II anime film (also released in 1994) which pulls no punches and is almost infinitely superior to this garbage in every way including fight scenes, story and accuracy.
Striding forth from his lair at Castle Stareskull one morning, Prototron decided to not reign down terror on the villagers, but instead go back inside, crack open a beer and load up Streets Of Rage 2. One hundred years later, he's still there. A avid music maker (of TERROR!) and retro gamer, he can be found whooping any and all heroes at all manner of SNK-based challenges.