Street Fighter (1994 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven E. de Souza|
|Written by||Steven E. de Souza|
|Based on||Street Fighter
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Distributed by||United States
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International
|Running time||102 minutes|
Street Fighter is a 1994 American action film written and directed by Steven E. de Souza. It is based loosely on the Street Fighter video games produced by Capcom, and stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Raúl Juliá, along with supporting performances by Byron Mann, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, Ming-Na and Wes Studi.
The film altered the plot of the original game and motives of the Street Fighter characters. It also significantly lightened the tone of the adaptation, inserting several comical interludes (for instance, one particular fight scene between E. Honda and Zangief pays homage to the old Godzilla films).
The film was a commercial success, making approximately three times its production costs, but was universally panned by critics. However, Raúl Juliá's performance as General M. Bison was widely praised and garnered him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Saturn Awards. Julia, who at the time was suffering from stomach cancer (as evidenced by his pale and gaunt facial complexion throughout the movie), took the role at the request of his two children. This was Julia's final posthumous theatrical performance, and he died two months before the film's release. The film is dedicated to his memory.
Two video game tie-ins based on the film were released which used digitized footage of the actors performing fight moves, similar to the presentations in Pit-Fighter and the Mortal Kombat series of games.
A multinational military force known as the Allied Nations has managed to enter the fictional South East Asian nation of Shadaloo to combat the armed forces of a drug lord turned General named M. Bison (Raul Julia), who has recently captured several dozen humanitarian workers. Via a live two-way TV broadcast, Bison demands Allied Nations regional commander, Colonel William F. Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme) secure a US$20 billion ransom in three days, or he will kill the hostages and the world will hold Guile and the Allied Nations accountable. Guile's assistant, Cammy (Kylie Minogue), is only able to partially trace Bison's signal, determining that his hideout is somewhere in the river-delta region outside Shadaloo City.
Among the captured United Nations relief workers is Carlos "Charlie" Blanka, a peacekeeper and one of Guile's closest friends. Bison orders his henchmen to take Blanka to a laboratory, where he is to be turned into a mutated soldier, the first of many, which Bison plans to use to help him conquer the world. Placed in the incubation chamber, they use horrific images to brainwash him into a mindless killing machine. Dr. Dhalsim (Roshan Seth), a captured scientist, decides to sabotage Bison's scheme by tweaking the brainwashing process to retain Blanka's humanity.
Meanwhile, in an underground fighting arena, con artists Ryu Hoshi (Byron Mann) and Ken Masters (Damian Chapa) attempt to sell fake arms to Shadaloo Tong crime syndicate's leader Viktor Sagat (Wes Studi). His plan to kill them both by having them fight his champion, Vega (Jay Tavare), is interrupted when Guile crashes into the building and takes everyone into custody for violating a curfew. When later seeing Ryu and Ken fighting Sagat's men in the prison grounds, Guile realizes that they may be able to help him find Bison, and presses Ryu and Ken into infiltrating Sagat's gang with a homing device by staging a prison-break and faking his own death. The plan hits a snag when news reporter Chun-Li Zang (Ming-Na Wen), who wants revenge against Bison for the death of her father, finds out that Guile is alive. Her partners, Sumo wrestler E. Honda (Peter "Navy" Tuiasosopo) and professional boxer Balrog (Grand L. Bush), each of whom hold a grudge against Sagat for ruining their reputations, attempt to kill Bison and Sagat with a truck bomb, which destroys much of Bison's arms cache but fails to kill the dictator. Chun-Li and her friends are captured when Ryu and Ken seemingly turn on them, to earn Bison's trust and allow Guile to track them to Bison's lair. Once in the fortress (which is built under a Cambodian temple similar to Angkor Wat), they free Balrog and Honda, and the four of them go to find Chun-Li, who is fighting a surprised Bison in his private quarters. Unfortunately, the arrival of the others interrupts Chun-Li long enough for Bison to escape and trap the five of them by sedating them with gas.
Meanwhile, the Allied Nations is able to locate Bison's headquarters from Ryu's homing device and the explosion at Bison's camp, and since Bison's air defenses are too powerful they begin planning an amphibious assault on the base. A group of peace negotiators inform Guile that the invasion is no longer authorized, since the ransom demand is about to be paid, but Guile protests what he sees as appeasement and rallies the troops to assault on his own.
As Guile, T. Hawk (Gregg Rainwater), and Cammy head up river, they use the weapons systems on their armored speedboat to blow up Bison's radar systems. Bison detects the boat and disables its cloaking system, then uses underwater mines to blow up the speedboat. However, Guile and his two companions narrowly escape the explosion and sneak into the fortress, where Guile is ambushed by a horribly mutated Blanka, who soon recognises Guile as his friend. Guile prepares to kill Blanka to end his suffering, but Dhalsim intervenes and persuades Guile not to do so. At the same time, the 72 hour time limit Bison gave for the ransom runs out, and when Bison learns that the money has not been paid, he decides to kill the hostages. After learning from Dhalsim that Bison plans to use Blanka to execute the hostages, Guile hides in Blanka's incubation chamber and attacks Bison after being hoisted right into the command center. At the same time, a huge battle ensues between the arriving Allied Nations forces and the Bison troops while Guile and Bison fight their own, personal duel. Ken attempts to leave the battle, but returns to save Ryu from an ambush, and the two of them defeat Vega and Sagat after an intense fight.
Meanwhile, Guile's battle with Bison rages on until Guile kicks Bison into a bank of hard-drives, delivering an apparently fatal electric shock to the crazed general, until an automatic revival system brings Bison back to life. Bison then reveals his ace in the hole: his uniform is powered by electromagnetism, allowing him to shoot bolts of electricity and fly across the air, giving Guile a hard time fighting against him. Consumed by megalomania, Bison declares himself a god before flying towards Guile to deal the death blow. However, Guile counters with a well-timed roundhouse kick which sends Bison crashing into his gigantic monitor wall, resulting in a huge explosion. The damage causes severe electrical disturbances which destabilize the power system of the base, but the heroes find and release the hostages just in time, and everyone evacuates.
Guile finds his way back to the lab and tries to persuade Dhalsim and Blanka to escape with him, but Blanka refuses to return to society in his condition, and Dhalsim decides to atone for his actions by keeping him company until the end. Before the explosion, Bison's computer expert, Dee Jay (Miguel A. Nunez Jr.), steals a trunk of Bison's money from Bison's quarters and escapes through a secret passage with the recovered Sagat, avoiding arrest but getting their comeuppance upon discovering the trunk is full of Bison's useless Bison Dollars. When the temple comes crashing down after an explosion, everyone thinks that Guile was killed in the destruction, but then he emerges from the smoke. After Guile converses with Chun-Li, Ryu, Ken, Cammy, Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski) (who joined them after being informed by Dee Jay that Bison was the enemy), Balrog, E-Honda, T-Hawk, and Sawada, they see the last ruins of the temple fall and take their familiar win poses from the video game as the camera freezes and fades out.
In the home video version of the film, a post-credits scene returns to the ruins of M. Bison's lair, as the main computer announces that its batteries are recharging from solar power and it begins defibrillating Bison's heart with electricity. Bison's fist suddenly smashes through the rubble, and on a computer screen the resurrected dictator selects "World Domination: Replay." When the screen fades to black (both in the theatrical, and home video release), a dedication pops up on the screen stating "For Raul - Vaya con Dios", referencing the death of Raul Julia, who died a couple of months prior to the film's release.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme as Colonel Guile
- Raúl Juliá as Bison
- Ming-Na Wen as Chun-Li
- Damian Chapa as Ken
- Kylie Minogue as Cammy
- Simon Callow as A.N. Official
- Byron Mann as Ryu
- Roshan Seth as Dhalsim
- Andrew Bryniarski as Zangief
- Grand L. Bush as Balrog
- Robert Mammone as Carlos Blanka
- Miguel A. Núñez, Jr. as Dee Jay
- Gregg Rainwater as T. Hawk
- Kenya Sawada as Captain Sawada
- Jay Tavare as Vega
- Peter Tuiasosopo as Honda
- Wes Studi as Sagat
Because Capcom was co-financier of the film, every aspect of the production required their approval. Among other points, they mandated a December 1994 release date, which required the cast and crew to maintain an aggressive filming schedule. Capcom had long envisioned Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile and asked him to be cast. After Van Damme was cast as Guile and Raúl Juliá as Bison, most of the casting budget had been spent. (Van Damme's fee alone took nearly 8 million dollars of the film's 35 million dollar budget.) This meant that the majority of other parts had to go to little-known or unknown actors. Kylie Minogue was cast as Cammy as a result of the Australian Actors' Guild wanting Steven E. de Souza to hire an Australian actor. By the time he received the request the only part not cast was that of Cammy. De Souza first learned of Minogue while reading the Australian version of People Magazine.
Charlie Picerni was hired as the stunt cordinator, he took the job with the condition that he would need ample time to train the cast. De Souza agreed, however plans were switched once it was learned the Raúl Juliá was suffering from cancer. Initially plans were to shoot Juliá's less intensive scenes first while the rest of the cast would train with Picerni, however upon seeing Juliá, de Souza realized that they could not show him in his current weakened state and was forced to switch the filming around. This led to an enviornment where the cast would be trained only right before their scenes—sometimes only hours ahead.
De Souza stated that he did not want to make a generic martial arts movie and described the film as cross between Star Wars, James Bond and a war film. In addition, he indicated that he also did not want to shoehorn in elements from the games, citing the previous year's poorly received Super Mario Bros. film as an example. De Souza said that he avoided the supernatural elements and powers from the games but would hint at their use for a sequel.
Street Fighter was filmed mostly in Queensland, Australia along the famous Gold Coast during the spring and summer months of 1994 with most of the interiors and exteriors filmed on soundstages in Brisbane. Some exterior scenes were filmed in Bangkok, Thailand which were used as the backdrop for the fictitious Shadaloo City. The Bangkok scenes were filmed first, in Spring 1994, with filming in Australia beginning that Summer.
The MPAA gave the first submitted cut of the film an R classification which was unacceptably high for Capcom, who had stated from the start that it should be a PG-13 film. After various cuts were made a G rating—according to de Souza—was given which was bumped up to PG-13 with the addition of an expletive in post production.
A soundtrack was released on December 6, 1994 by Priority Records featuring mostly rap music. The soundtrack found mild success, peaking at #135 on the Billboard 200 and #34 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Upon its release on home video in the United Kingdom, the soundtrack was given away free with every purchase of the VHS tape at branches of Tesco for a limited period. Although this was the only way for anybody in the UK to purchase the CD, "Straight to My Feet" by Hammer was still released as a single, which charted #57 in the UK.
Graeme Revell composed the film's score, an hour of which was released by Varèse Sarabande. Revell ignored previously existing music from the franchise. The music differs from Revell's more popular style, most notably with the absence of pervasive electronic elements, and is entirely orchestral. The campy style of the film is reflected in the score's parody cues. The music during the scene where Ryu faces Vega in the cage fight quotes Georges Bizet's Habanera from the opera Carmen, and a theme heard throughout the score, particularly in the track "Colonel Guile Addresses the Troops", is reminiscent of Bruce Broughton's main theme for Tombstone.
Street Fighter received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 12% on based on reviews from 25 critics. The site's consensus states: "Though it offers mild entertainment through campy one-liners and the overacting of the late Raúl Juliá, Street Fighter's nonstop action sequences are not enough to make up for a predictable, uneven storyline."
Leonard Maltin gave the film his lowest rating, writing that "even Jean-Claude Van Damme fans couldn't rationalize this bomb." Richard Harrington of The Washington Post said the film was "notable only for being the last film made by Raúl Juliá, an actor far too skilled for the demands of the evil warlord, Gen. M. Bison, but far too professional to give anything less than his best." Critic Stephen Holden of The New York Times referred to the film as "a dreary, overstuffed hodgepodge of poorly edited martial arts sequences and often unintelligible dialogue".
The film has found a small but lasting cult following which sees most of its negative points as comically surreal.
In 2009, Time listed the film on their list of top ten worst video games movies. GameTrailers ranked the film as the eighth worst video game film of all time. The film also received two nominations at the Saturn Awards: Best Fantasy Film and Best Supporting Actor (a posthumous nomination for Raúl Juliá).
The film earned $3,124,775 on its opening day. It grossed $9,508,030 on its opening weekend, ranking at #3 behind Dumb and Dumber and The Santa Clause at the box office. On its second weekend it grossed $7,178,360 and dropped down to #7. The film grossed $33,423,521 at the domestic box office and $66,000,000 at the international box office, making a total of $99,423,521 worldwide.
A one shot comic book adaptation of the film, titled Street Fighter: The Battle for Shadaloo, was published by DC Comics in 1995. The comic was drawn by Nick J. Napolitano and written by Mike McAvennie. A Japanese one-shot manga adaptation by Takayuki Sakai was also published in the June 1995 issue of CoroCoro Comics Special.
Two video games based on the film were produced. The first was a coin-operated arcade game titled Street Fighter: The Movie, produced by American developer Incredible Technologies and distributed by Capcom. The second was a home video game developed by Capcom also titled Street Fighter: The Movie, released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Despite sharing the same title, neither game is a port of the other, although they both used the same digitized footage of the film's cast posing as the characters in each game.
Many plot elements of the film, such as Blanka's identity and Dhalsim's role as a scientist, were reused in the American-produced 1995 Street Fighter animated series, a follow-up to this film which combined story aspects of the film with those in the games.
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