62) Street Fighter (1994) Dir: Steven de Souza Date Released: December 1994 Date Seen: March 2nd, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5
It’s easy to see why writer/director Steven de Souza’s Street Fighter might have been scuttled off to a January or February release. But. What’s even more incredible than seeing that it was released on December 23rd—early Christmas present?—is that the film is actually fun.
Unfortunately, my affection for this film is an apologist’s kind of love, the kind whose defense is predicated on having grown up playing the video games that the movie is based on (though the credits credit only Street Fighter II, fans will recognize some later characters, like D.J. and Tomahawk). What I can semi-objectively offer is that while the film can be taken as a big in joke with fans, it does exactly what a Street Fighter movie should: provide a silly, light and energetic plot full of fights, cameos and flashy effects. Nostalgia be damned, it’s a goodish movie! Leave Street Fighter alone!
Still, as long as I’m admitting that I’m watching this film to satisfy the 10 year-old in me, I have to say that it’s hard to watch the film without looking at either of the two main character actors in the film retrospectively. As Col. Guile, Jean Claude Van Damme doesn’t get an opportunity to flex his famous muscles but then again, the film is yet another example of why his plea for playing at peace in JCVD (2008) seems so silly. He’s a member of the AN, a UN stand-in but when given the chance to put his arms down, he voluntarily chooses to kick ass instead. He’s got such laughably bad punny lines that if one weren’t watching the rest of the film, you might easily think that de Souza had it out for Van Damme.
In the same vein, it’s tough to suppress a groan or five when you’re watching poor, sickly Raul Julia shoot lightning out of his hands and zoom around on electro-magnetic boots. Seeing him taunt Van Damme is one thing but watching him get the snot kicked out of him knowing that he was about as sturdy as a toothpick at the time and had to wear a wire suit to fill out Bison’s signature red uniform—whose designer is specially credited in the beginning!—I had to suck in my teeth and chuckle. Then again, rewatching the film for the first time in its entirety, I can’t help but reject the old joke about the film being so bad it killed him—he gets in some good lines like when he tells Chun-Li, “For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day in your life. For me, it was Tuesday.” Honestly, that Julia stayed alive after Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1983) is the real miracle. Accentuate the positive, people.