Hey, Street Fighter fans. Do you want to know how much respect the filmmakers of the Street Fighter movie have for your franchise? You know Guile? Yeah, him. The all-American army guy. The one who literally has a tattoo of the American flag on his arm? He’s portrayed by Jean-Claude Van Damme in this movie. You know how Van Damme doesn’t even sound the least bit American? Well, he continues to not sound the least bit American in the movie. That’s right. Your all-American hero is Belgian, despite still being “American” and keeping the flag tattoo.
Guile is the de-facto lead, I suppose, although there are a ton of characters in this film and you’ll likely only be able to keep track of them if you’re a big Street Fighter fan prior to seeing the movie. The villain is M. Bison (Raúl Juliá), who has a Saturday morning cartoon villain plot to take over the world and create his own society. It’s up to Guile, Chun Li (Ming-Na Wen), Ken (Damian Chapa), Cammy (Kylie Minogue), Ryu (Byron Mann), and some others to stop him. And they do it with martial arts!
Well, kind of. There’s actually far less actual fighting in the movie than you’d expect given that it’s based on a fighting video game where literally the only gameplay involves punching and kicking various opponents until one of you loses. In the movie, they punch and kick their way to get to Bison and defeat him before he can take over the world, or whatever. Honestly, the plot is so silly that you wonder if actual human adults wrote it.
It was actually written by the film’s director, Steven E. de Souza. To be fair, at least before I completely rip him, he was basing it on a video game whose plot can be summed up in a couple of sentences and nobody really cares about the plot of fighting games anyway. But, then, one has to wonder why he didn’t create something original and great instead of something stolen from the plot of a half-hour cartoon. The best that could be done is a laughable “take over the world” story?
Will Street Fighter fans be pleased? I don’t know. I’m not one. I know that Guile is horribly misrepresented and that they also amalgamated the characters Charlie and Blanka, having Charlie transformed into Blanka through Bison’s evil experiments to make the best soldier ever. I wager fans will be pleased with Raúl Juliá’s performance as M. Bison, as it’s about the only thing in Street Fighter that isn’t horrendously bad. This movie isn’t worth your time at all, and in all honesty isn’t worth my time to be reviewing. Yes, it really is that bad.
Not even the action can save it. The fights aren’t in any way exciting enough to justify the awfulness that fills in the gaps between them. It’s filled with bad martial arts, mostly. Much like I can forgive almost any flaw in a horror movie if it’s scary, I can forgive a lot in action movies if the action is exciting. But Street Fighter‘s action just isn’t. The video game is fun because you have a personal stake in it; the movie isn’t because the characters are so bland, and the action so boring, that it’s impossible to care about anything that’s happening.
If you were hoping that good acting would save his film, um, why would you think that at all? Jean-Claude Van Damme will only rarely be accused of putting on a good performance, and even if he did here, nobody would care because of his miscasting. Ming-Na Wen, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, Byron Mann, and the majority of the cast, really, are bad and do not do any good work in this film. About the only “good” performance is Raúl Juliá, who gave it his all to be a menacing villain.
It’s stupid, it’s boring, it doesn’t have anywhere enough action — or any good action — and it has a plot ripped straight from the Saturday morning cartoons. Will it please Street Fighter fans? Well, let’s just put it this way: Guile is played by a Belgian and does nothing to disguise this fact. That about sums up the laziness and poor decision making that went into creating the Street Fighter movie. This is bad and a waste of time from start to finish. Just go play the game.