|Street Fighter character|
|First game||Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991)|
|Designed by||Akira "Akiman" Yasuda (Street Fighter II)|
|Motion capture||Ming-Na Wen (The Movie games)|
|Portrayed by||Jackie Chan (City Hunter) |
Ming-Na Wen (Street Fighter)
Kristin Kreuk (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li)
|Birthplace||China/British Hong Kong|
|Fighting style||Chinese Kempo (中国拳法 Chūgoku Kenpō, "Chinese martial arts")|
|Weapon||None in fighting matches (expert with firearms)|
Chun-Li (春麗, also チュン・リー Chun Rī, simplified Chinese: 春丽; traditional Chinese: 春麗; pinyin: Chūn Lì) is a character in Capcom's Street Fighter series. The first female fighter of any fighting game franchise, she made her first appearance in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in 1991. In the series, she is an expert martial artist and Interpol officer who restlessly seeks revenge for the death of her father at the hands of the nefarious M. Bison, leader of the Shadaloo crime syndicate.
Since her debut, Chun-Li has become a mainstay of the franchise and one of its most popular figures, appearing in nearly all subsequent installments of the series and several Capcom spinoff games, in addition to featuring prominently in Street Fighter-related media such as two feature films, multiple anime and comic book productions, and other official series merchandise. She has earned much positive fan and critical reception for factors such as her backstory, athleticism, and in-game playability, in addition to being considered a trailblazer for female characters in fighting titles and in general video gaming.
Concept and creation
Akira Nishitani recounted, "Previously there were no women in fighting games. In Chun Li's case, I wanted a woman in the game. I determined what her fighting abilities would be. Then China just came up as a possible homeland." In response to fans that were disappointed with Chun-Li's absence from Street Fighter III, Capcom added her to Third Strike. Nevertheless, the developers themselves also wanted to add her. Additionally, Capcom stated they found multiple difficulties in adding her to the cast. Her main designer, Akira “Akiman” Yasuda, was busy with other assignments so she was designed by other members from the staff. Chun-Li was originally meant to be added to Second Impact.
In video games
Chun-Li is presented as a woman with a strong sense of justice, and her motives for fighting crime range from avenging the death of her father (her desire to do so by revenge was the reason why she lost to a perfect victory in SFA2) to protecting innocents (she had finally learned to accept and deal with her losses). She especially cares for kids, showing repulse for the use of brainwashed young girls in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and the kidnap of a girl in Street Fighter III: Third Strike. In the latter game, she decides she will teach her fighting style and philosophy to kids. Chun-Li is an expert martial arts practitioner. She started training in several styles of Chinese kempo ("Chinese martial arts") at the age of 5, especially tai chi chuan, which she would later complement with sanda (combat wushu) and fighting styles from all around the world, such as taekwondo, full contact karate, judo and capoeira. Related to her police job, she is also a very skilled firearm user, her game profiles stating that she has at least once achieved a sixth place in an international shooting competition. Chun-Li has also been noted in-universe for her fluent English, investigating skills, penetrating eyes, beauty and acting talent for deception.
Chun-Li was introduced in 1991 in the original Street Fighter II as the franchise's first playable female character, an undercover Interpol agent seeking to avenge the death of her father at the hands of M. Bison and his criminal organization. Upon Bison's defeat, she fulfills her revenge and decides to return to her life as an ordinary girl; Super Street Fighter II allows players to choose this ending or another in which she remains a police officer. The Street Fighter Alpha prequel series built upon her backstory, while Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike shows her retired and teaching martial arts to young children, only to be forced to return to law enforcement after one of her students is abducted by Urien. Chun-Li returns in Street Fighter IV, where her in-game narrative shows her at crossroads in her life, eventually returning to both street fighting and law enforcement. She also makes an appearance in Street Fighter V; in her prologue story, Chun-Li recalls how she learned of her father's death. In Street Fighter EX, a non-canonical spinoff series produced by Street Fighter II creator Akira Nishitani, Chun-Li is a police officer investigating Shadaloo in search of her missing father.
She has also made appearances in many other Capcom-produced fighting games, including all titles of the long-running series Marvel vs. Capcom (ever since X-Men vs. Street Fighter, including Shadow Lady, a dark version of Chun-Li that underwent harsh experiments on Bison's orders and was transformed into a brainwashed cyborg) and Capcom vs. SNK (as a rival to Fatal Fury character Mai Shiranui), and in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars and Street Fighter X Tekken. She and Ryu are the only Street Fighter characters to appear in every Capcom crossover title, including the SNK vs. Capcom fighting game series by SNK and the tactical role-playing games Namco × Capcom, Project X Zone and Project X Zone 2 by Namco, as well as Street Fighter X Mega Man where they serve as boss fights for the Blue Bomber. Often, Chun-Li is either continuing her existing story from Street Fighter II or seeking to arrest the other characters in the game that she sees as suspicious.
In addition Chun Li appears in the versus puzzle games Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix and Street Fighter: Puzzle Spirits, as well as in the pachinko slot game Chun-Li Ni Makase China!, the first game that featured her in a starring role. She also makes cameo appearances in Final Fight 2, Breath of Fire and Mega Man 9, as well as in Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams (an alternate costume for Ohatsu) and in Sony's LittleBigPlanet (a DLC for Sackgirl).
In the Street Fighter II sub-series and most of her later appearances, Chun-Li wears a blue qipao, an early-20th-century Chinese dress, with golden accents, puffy sleeves, and a white waistband. In the first version of Street Fighter II, Chun-Li was originally depicted wearing a red qipao instead of blue. The dress is modified to allow a far wider range of movement than a generic qipao. Her ensemble also includes a pair of white combat boots and brown tights/stockings. She wears her hair in "ox horns", with silk brocades and ribbons in her hair. Another familiar part of her ensemble are the large spiked bracelets she wears on her wrists. In the Street Fighter Alpha games (set during the time period before Street Fighter II), Chun-Li wears a Chinese acrobatic outfit consisting of an embroidered vest, a unitard, and sneakers, wearing her ox horns unadorned, but kept in place with yellow ribbons. In Street Fighter IV, Chun-Li's alternate outfit consists of black tabard with gold accents at the bottom, while her ox horns are unadorned, just like in her Alpha appearance, only this time it is held by red ropes with golden balls at the tip. This outfit is completed with red shoes, gold earrings and black and gold bracelets.
Chun-Li is known for her very muscular legs, while depictions of the rest of her body are more variable. (Her various bios given that suggest a slender body are very inconsistent with her game appearances)
In the Street Fighter Alpha games, where she wore a sleeveless, tight outfit, her arms and upper body were visibly much stronger than those of any other female character in the franchise, but many artists choose to depict her as petite and slim, in official and unofficial artworks alike, drawing only her legs strong due to her emphasis on kicking moves. In the animated movie which contained the infamous shower scene where she was naked she is drawn as very slender.
Chun-Li was designed with an exceptionally strong physique because she was the sole woman among a roster of powerful male characters in Street Fighter II. To overcome this perceived imbalance, she was devised as a character who had mastered Chinese kenpo and really pushed her body to the limit so that she could compete with such a cast of large and imposing men.
Chun-Li's gameplay style changes notably from game to game, with Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike marking a strong depart from previous incarnations and featuring a high number of revamped moves. Later games have looked to balance between her Street Fighter II and Third Strike styles. She started as a weak and fast close-range fighter compared to the bigger male characters from Street Fighter II with the best aerial ability in the game, but she steadily gained an array of different moves through the games, such as a projectile attack or an anti-air defensive move, which steered her towards a more balanced type with an emphasis on poking and control of neutral game thanks to a rich set of non-special moves of relatively long range.
Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 feature Chun-Li's original outfit from Street Fighter II as an alternate version of the character with alternate special abilities and Super Combos. Her appearances in the Marvel vs. Capcom series are reminiscent of her early gameplay, featuring her as one of the fastest characters in the games, taking advantage of the faster gameplay of the games as well as game mechanics such as multiple jumps and air dashes; her X-Factor power-up in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features an increment in speed.
Chun-Li's normal moves are balanced among punches and kicks, but most of her special moves are kicks. Her most recognizable special moves remain the Hyakuretsu Kyaku, a series of quick kicks from a one-legged stance (usually referred to as Lightning Legs/Kicks in English), and the Spinning Bird Kick, where she spins while upside down in a front split kicking all around her. Chun-Li can also use the Kiko-Ken, a ranged energy projectile similar to Ryu's Hadouken, and a concentrated static energy burst known as the Kiko-Sho. The development team for Street Fighter EX attempted to bring Chun-Li back to her roots as an agility-oriented character by, among other things, restoring her Spinning Bird Kick and removing the fireball attack she acquired in Street Fighter II Turbo.
Scores of various Chun-Li figures were produced by various manufacturers. Artworks of her were also featured on an officially licensed animated Nubytech/UDON joypad for the PlayStation 2, and a Mad Catz wireless joypad for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Chun-Li was a central character in the 1994 Street Fighter film, and was played by Ming-Na. She was given a surname ("Chun-Li Zang") and posed as a television reporter working in Shadaloo in her personal quest to track down and kill Bison, who had murdered her father during a peasant uprising. Her relationship with Guile is acrimonious from the start, as he bluntly rejects her interview request before seizing her microphone to exchange words with Bison on the air, then chides Chun-Li for his own inability to trace a signal broadcast by Bison. Chun-Li allies herself with E. Honda and Balrog, who work as her news crew and whose reputations were ruined by Bison's mafia connections, and later forms an initially uneasy alliance with Ryu and Ken working with Guile in attempting to locate Bison's secret fortress. After Guile's "death" during a staged prison break, Chun-Li uses a homing device to trace him to, and then infiltrate, the Allied Nations' headquarters, where she is shocked to discover that he is still alive. However, Guile refuses to brook her reasoning behind her actions, as he does not want her vendetta against Bison interfering with his own. He orders Cammy and T. Hawk to take Chun-Li into custody but she manages to escape. She, Balrog, and Honda, all posing as traveling carnival performers, later work with Ken and Ryu on an assassination attempt against Bison and Sagat with an explosives-filled truck, which detonates Bison's weapons caches instead, before they are all captured and taken to Bison's fortress. Chun-Li is held prisoner in Bison's private chambers (during which she is seen in an approximation to her traditional game costume, wearing a sleeveless red Chinese dress and with her hair made in ox horns, but not covered in brocades), and after she relays the story of her father's murder, Bison mocks her and her fighting skills in response, which provokes Chun-Li into attacking him, having planned all along for an opportunity to personally attack Bison. She actually gains the upper hand before becoming distracted by her comrades coming to her rescue, allowing Bison to escape before subduing them with knock-out gas. When Guile and the Allied Nations launch an invasion on Bison's fortress during the film's climax, she and Balrog help Ryu and Ken free Bison's hostages, and after Bison's forces are defeated, Guile promises her an exclusive interview, but only, he adds in jest, if she shows up in her costume.
As the titular character in the 2009 film Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, she was played by Kristin Kreuk, her last name was changed to "Xiang". Her father was named Huang Xiang. While she was depicted as Chinese-American, her goal of avenging her father remained unchanged. The film was released in Japanese theaters as a double bill with a Studio 4°C-produced anime short that starred fellow Street Fighter character Sakura Kasugano and played after the movie.
Chun-Li was played by a cross-dressing Jackie Chan in the 1993 live-action adaptation of City Hunter during the Street Fighter II spoof scene. Chun-Li will appear in the second season of Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist titled Street Fighter: World Warrior in a significant role.
Chun-Li is a central character in the 1994 anime film Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, voiced by Miki Fujitani in the original Japanese version and by Lia Sargent (credited as Mary Briscoe) in the English dub. She is investigating M. Bison's Shadowlaw organization suspected of murdering several diplomats, and requests to work with Guile; he initially balks at this as he wants to pursue Bison himself, but later they become inseparable. In a famous instance of fan service, an explicit scene showed Chun-Li showering in her apartment as a Shadowlaw assassin, Vega, arrives to kill her. The shower scene has been censored to varying degrees in versions of the English dub. After a brutal fight, Vega is kicked through a wall and sent plummeting several stories to the ground, but Chun-Li succumbs to her injuries and slips into a coma. She remains hospitalized for the rest of the movie, as a distraught Guile promises her that he will make Bison pay. Following Bison's defeat, Chun-Li pulls a prank on Guile by making it appear as if she has died while he was away.
Chun-Li is a regular character in the 1996 Street Fighter animated series, and was voiced by Donna Yamamoto. The character reprises her film role as a reporter while she again seeks to avenge her father's death at the hands of Bison, which is shown in flashback in the second episode, "The Strongest Woman in the World".
In the 1997–1998 anime series Street Fighter II V, Chun-Li is introduced as the fifteen-year-old daughter of Inspector Dorai, a Hong Kong police chief who has also schooled her in the martial arts. She is voiced by Chisa Yokoyama in the original Japanese version, while Lia Sargent reprises her role in the English dub. While attempting to bring down a drug smuggling operation in the country, she works with Interpol to investigate a mysterious organization known as Shadowlaw. Chun-Li serves as the tour guide for Ryu and Ken when they pay a visit to work on their training; Ken is smitten with her and later buys her lavish gifts, including an engagement ring. Despite being underage, they enter a club in a dangerous part of town that hosts an underground fighting ring so Ryu and Ken can prove themselves as street fighters. After Ryu soundly defeats several opponents, the trio are marked for death by the ringleader as a result, and while on the run they encounter and battle various street gangs before being rescued by Chun-Li's father. Traveling with Ryu and Ken to Spain, Chun-Li is stalked by an obsessive Vega, who presents her with a severed bull's ear, intercepts her outside her hotel, sneaks into her room to observe her in her sleep, then invites her to a masquerade ball that is actually a setup to get Ken to fight him in a cage match. The whole time, Chun-Li is under the influence of Vega's love potion, but it wears off when Vega is defeated. Bison then accosts Chun-Li and she realizes that he is the leader of Shadowlaw, who, unbeknownst to her, had also hired Cammy to garrote Chun-Li's father, an attack he barely survives. Chun-Li plays her largest role in the five-part finale, when she and Ryu are kidnapped and brainwashed by Bison via microchips embedded in their foreheads, and like in the 1994 film, she acquires her signature outfit (albeit grayish-blue with white accents and slightly modified) while Bison's captive. The chip puts her into an overly aggressive state, which she displays by snapping an opponent's neck in combat, and she later manages to overpower Guile in battle before Ryu and Ken, during their victorious final fight against Bison, succeed in destroying the equipment triggering the chips (in addition to reducing the Shadowlaw base to ruins), returning Chun-Li to normal.
Chun-Li also appears in the 1999 anime OVA Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, as an Interpol agent who investigates a mad scientist called Sadler who works for Shadaloo. She believes the trail can lead her to her father, who at the time, was missing and presumed alive. She assists Ryu and Ken in finding a kidnapped boy named Shun who claims to be Ryu's younger brother. While tracking Sadler, she accompanies Ryu to where Akuma lives and witnesses as Ryu is almost overcome by the Dark Hadou. She accompanies Ryu, Ken, Birdie, Dan, Guy, Dhalsim, Sodom and Rolento to Sadler's hideout, where she sneaks into the facility with Ryu and Ken. She and Ken rescue the other fighters and end up in a tussle with Sadler's android enforcer, Rosanov, who beats them severely. Ryu ultimately manages to destroy both Rosanov and Sadler, though Shun dies in the process after making peace with Ryu. In the aftermath, Chun-Li returns to Interpol. In the original Japanese version, she is voiced by Yumi Toma, and again by Lia Sargent in the English dub.
In the season 6 (2010) Halloween special of the cartoon series American Dad!, Toshi's older sister Akiko goes trick-or-treating as Chun-Li. Chun-Li made a cameo appearance in the animated film Wreck-It Ralph alongside several fellow Street Fighter characters.
In the 1990s Street Fighter II manga by Masaomi Kanzaki, Chun-Li remains in her established role of an Interpol agent investigating Bison, yet frequently expresses her desire to earn Ryu's praise as a genuine fighter. As the story progresses, Chun-Li participates in a tournament arranged by Shadaloo, eventually coming up against Vega, portrayed here as her father's killer. She defeats him but is so exhausted that she pulls out from the tournament and her injuries prevent her from doing much when Ryu and Bison confront one another, except call off an air strike by Interpol.
Chun-Li also appears in Masahiko Nakahira's 1996-1997 manga Street Fighter: Sakura Ganbaru!, in which she participates in a police raid to an illegal underground fighting circle, saving Sakura from human traffickers who operated in the place. Later on, she follows the trails that lead her to an assassin which turns out to be Gen, from whom she suffers an utter defeat. She is last seen in Russia, parting ways with Sakura and Dan, with Cammy under her care. In the manga adaptations of Street Fighter Alpha, Chun-Li is again an agent of the Interpol. She encounters Ryu, who has fallen from grace and had hired himself out as a bodyguard to drug smugglers, and winds up befriending him and Birdie as well as Ken, also rescuing Cammy from being captured by Sodom. Shadaloo is once again responsible for the death of her father, though the exact identity of the killer is not revealed.
In Malibu Comics' short-lived Street Fighter series, Chun-Li is depicted as having known Ryu and Ken since her late teens, as well as having a romantic interest in Ryu, though both make their first appearances therein fighting each other after he sneaks up on her from behind. She criticizes his overly devout dedication to his training that has seen him distance himself from Ken for a long time, while he tires of hearing her desire of revenge against Bison and is aghast at her announcement that she has started working with Interpol. The main storyline did not focus on Chun-Li nor Ryu, but rather the aftermath of Sagat's murder of Ken, which itself was never resolved as the comic was canceled at Capcom's request after only three issues.
When UDON picked up the comic book license for the Street Fighter franchise for American markets, Chun-Li again became a central character, involved in the hunt for Bison and Shadaloo. However, in the comic, the killer of Chun-Li's father is Cammy, prior to her being freed from Bison's control. Chun-Li battles Cammy when they meet face to face for the first time and ultimately forgives Cammy and turns her sights on Bison himself; she later meets Cammy for the second time and formally wins against her. Eventually, she receives an invitation from Shadaloo to enter a tournament being held by Bison. The comic appears to be mixing elements of the various games together and Chun-Li's mode of dress changes several times throughout the UDON comics, from the outfits worn in Street Fighter Alpha to her more traditional qipao from Street Fighter II.
In 2008, UDON also released a four-issue special miniseries Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li, which focuses on a younger Chun-Li and one of her first assignments for the Hong Kong police; in it, Chun-Li is working with her partner Po-lin, a young policewoman who has a very personal score to settle with Shadaloo. Notably, one of the cases in which Chun-Li gets involved in the miniseries is the murder of Go Hibiki, Dan's father, by Sagat's hands.
Chun-Li was one of several Street Fighter characters to be featured in Archie Comics' Worlds Unite event, which saw several Capcom and Sega franchises crossover in the Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, Mega Man, and Sonic Boom comic lines.
British band Arctic Monkeys released an instrumental titled "Chun Li's Spinning Bird Kick" as a B-side on their single "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor". The song was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards.
American drag queen Alaska Thunderfuck, best known for being the winner of the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, released her song "The T" (2016) with the lyrics "Turn the page, Turn the page, Chun-Li, streets of rage, smashed some pumpkins, Rat in a cage, let's pay women an equal wage".
Chun-Li is widely regarded as one of the most popular characters in the series, deemed the "first lady of video games." In 2002, she was voted number one in Capcom's own poll of top 85 characters for the 15th anniversary of Street Fighter. She was ranked third in IGN's 2009 list of top Street Fighter characters. GameDaily ranked her as number one on their 2009 list of top Street Fighter characters of all time, praising her character evolution and for balanced gameplay. The same site ranked her as second in their 2008 list of top Capcom characters of all time and as the favorite character from the Street Fighter series. UGO ranked her as third on their 2010 list of top Street Fighter characters, adding that as "the first female fighting game character", Chun-Li "was one of few female characters in the early '90s not cast in a role of damsel in distress, but instead showed that female characters could fight just as same as their male counterparts," and therefore paving the way for others such as Blaze Fielding, Sonya Blade, Nina Williams, Mai Shiranui, Sophitia, Sarah Bryant and Orchid. Her return in Street Fighter III: Third Strike has been called as the main and best addition to the game by IGN and GamePro. Nevertheless, she has been noted to be one of the most powerful characters in the game, alongside Ken and Yun. In 2013, Complex placed her at their top of list of video game characters that deserve a spin-off, noting her as "arguably the most popular female video character ever created."
Chun-Li often appears in the top list type articles for the fighting game genre, all video games, and even in general fiction. In Game Informer's 2009 list of top ten best fighting game characters Chun-Li was seventh. In 2013, Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich listed Chun-Li as one of 15 "kick-ass" women in video games, asserting that she is "[p]roof that ladies could quite literally kick ass as well as the dudes", WatchMojo.com placed her on the top of their 2014 ranking of top female fighting game characters and called her a very symbol of the genre. She was awarded the title of the "Hottest Babe of 1992" by Electronic Gaming Monthly, tying with Blaze from Streets of Rage and has since been included on similar lists over the years.  
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