The Street Fighter games introduced a mainstream audience to the fighting videogame world, sure they may not be the most aggressive or technically impressive offerings, but they are now recognised the world over, from casual fans to hardcore devotees. From its gameplay to its characters, the early 90s especially took the world to heart. In 1994, the plot and characters of the first two games were adapted for an anticipating audience, but adjustments were made in the process in the adaptation to the big screen, in the cinematic retelling of Street Fighter.
The evil M Bison has plunged the nation of Shadaloo into a civil war, between his militia and an international coalition, led by William Guile. M Bison has captured the coalitions civilian personnel and ransomed them for 20 billion dollars. As the conflict escalates, outsiders such as a news crew and international conmen get involved in the scuffle, each with their motivation, allegiance, and skills. With the clock ticking down, it becomes a battle for the wills one that will be thought in the complexes and dens of Shadaloo, but also its streets.
Obvious to the fans is the creative translations that the story beats have undergone for the big screen. Shadaloo is a nation-state, in Southeast Asia, as opposed to a criminal cabal. Characters changed too, e.g. Dhalsim is a scientist, versus a Yogi, Chun-Li is a reporter with a personal vendetta, she is accompanied by E-Honda who now is a Hawaiian cameraman, and Balrog is on the ‘good side’ too, apparently swapped out for Zangief. It would make sense that the cast took artistic liberties with their characters as the script did. The villainous M Bison is a captured by Raul Julia in his final performance matches the character’s energy to a believable level. The British Cammy played by Australian Kylie Minogue is inspired casting, she certainly has the distinct look down. Alongside Belgian Van Damne is another intriguing fit as Commander Guile, with his characters ruthless determination and maverick tactics feeling plausible. In the short 72 hours setting of Bison’s demands the film manages to find reasons to include most characters to interact, with the game’s impressive roster, that is not a particularly easy task.
The sweeping changes to make the small plot fill an action film might put aficionados off, but the elements the filmmakers include and create should win them back. The dialogue is punchy and full of great lines and moments, that live on 25 years since its release. The little touches help the film stand out, we get a glimpse of the fictionalised language that is native to Shadaloo and the elaborately designed propaganda posters, that in some cases only appear on-screen for a few seconds but are still detailed. The even overtly looking arcade machine controls of Bison’s lair are a charming easter egg to the game’s origins.
No bones about it, the 1994 Street Fighter film a child of its time, its liberal attitude to the source material helps to make a greater splash. Big names bring their own to the bigger personalities they inhabit, and the blows of the characters moves and dialogue, are entertaining to a tee. Street Fighter does not take itself too seriously and thank goodness, as it is a delight to the young and old alike.
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