Tentacle-Free Anime: "Street Fighter II" (1994) Review
Growing up, I was really into fighting games, and one of my all time favorites was the Street Fighter series. Well, just like how video games are better played with friends, I figured I'd bring back fellow Trash Mutant Ninja Ross to talk the anime adaptation of one of the greatest fighting games of all time!
KAZEKUN: With this spectacular team up edition of Tentacle-Free Anime, we got Street Fighter. Not just any old Street Fighter, though. One of the greatest, if not the greatest adaptation of the game franchise. I love this movie, I know it's far from perfect, but as far as gaming adaptations go this does a pretty dang good job in my opinion.
I'm lookin' at you, American live-action Street Fighter film.
NR: It loses points for not having Kylie Minogue as Cammy.
The scene you're talking about, however, is the first part of the movie where we find out just how bad the voice acting is. While it's bad enough that nobody seems to have the correct accent, the acting is just genuinely bad. Terrible, in fact. The worst offender in terms of voice acting has to be be Guile, though. How is it that Van Damme played the part better?
K: I'll give you that. The voice acting is certainly dated, sadly. The 90s and early 00s were the best time to be a voice actor with no talent. Agencies loved you, as long as it meant getting the product out there. But while the acting is dated, as we come to find out later there's a magnificent level of detail in fighting styles.
Although, when we get the flashback of Ken and Ryu training and their sensei talks to them, all I could think about was that this poor man doesn't actually get added as a character until after the game on which the movie is based. He has no name in the movie, but for those reading this their sensei is named Gouken.
I thought Guile was handled pretty well in the film. On the VA, no not at all, but his character was just fine. The Air Force with Interpol working together? Seems logical to me. That's why the two characters were brought together.
Still, I've never seen Guile him as the main character of Street Fighter. Sure he has a vendetta against Bison but so do most of the characters. So to have him as the main character in the live-action movie always seemed silly to me. Here he gets the right amount of involvement his character needs to still be a big deal to the story. But not be THE main character.
NR: I have to agree that I never saw Guile as a main character. When playing the video games, he always seemed pretty bland. He was never the coolest fighter. But I don't think Guile was handled that well. I don't think there was any real character development there. I thought it was all a bit rushed and a bit unreal.
K: Yeah, I firmly agree it was rushed.
NR: Mostly due to the fact that we had two stories running simultaneously; Ryu on his travels, doing what he does and Guile and Chun-Li trying to take down Bison and his Shadow Law.
K: My insistence that he was handled well comes from the fact that at least we get a thought out story for him. And this whole movie could've been nothing more than just pitiful fan-service with a rushed together plot. As silly as it is, they did put thought into how everyone could be involved without completely mucking it up. Was it perfect? No. It's still incredibly impressive though. 1994, and the creators on this movie had more sense than most major franchise re-booters today.
Speaking of other characters with a solid character arc, I thought Ken had a pretty good one as well. If at the very least his relationship was shown to be a very real one in just a few scenes than most forced romances throughout an entire movie these days.
NR: You liked Ken in this movie? Really?
K: Yes. Yes I did.
NR: I honestly thought he was incredibly irritating and whiney. But I've always had a thing against Ken. Ken isn't even a cool fighting name. Blanka is a cool fighting name. Ryu. Dhalsim. Fighting names are important.
K: True, and I've always found it funny that we even have a character named Ken considering we have moves in the games called "Hadou-KEN" and "Shoryu-KEN" but that's why they modelled the character to look cool. Breathe cool. He's just cool man, and his full name being "Ken Masters" is the essence of cool.
NR: Not if you add "Bates" to his last name. Sorry. I'm better than that.
K: This is Trash Mutant. None of us are. #kidding
I think the biggest problem with Ken is that because they trained together, he and Ryu have the same fighting style and moves. And because Ryu is the main character that kind of leaves Ken out to dry unless some fan just really likes him.
NR: Am I right in thinking that part of Bison's master plan was building terminators as part of the "Pee Project"? Or did I hear him wrong?
K: To be perfectly honest with you I don't remember what the project's name was, so we're gonna go with the Pee Project.
NR: I'm sure he said Pee Project.
K: I would say Pee Project then, because why not? Bison... was one of the weaker aspects of the story. But there's not a lot to do there unless the movie creators specifically wanted to go against the Bison of the games. He's always been a 2-D bad guy, and I don't think that'll ever change. I personally prefer Akuma as the villain, but you win some you lose some. Speaking of Akuma just real quick, did you see his cameo in India? Did you know if Akuma isn't the main villain he then cameos in every SF animated project? He's the original Street Fighter meme.
NR: I didn't catch his cameo, actually! Is this where Dhalsim and E.Honda are fighting? When Dhalsim senses Ryu's "energy" or whatever? If I remember right, this scene was entirely to humanise Ryu when he gives a young girl money to replace her milk when he accidentally spills it.
I had no idea that Akuma features in every Street Fighter animated movie like that. That's a pretty cool touch. I did think the milk scene was a bit heavy-handed, though.
But I do agree that Akuma would have made a better villain. Unless Raul Julia played Bison. Perhaps if they just pasted his face in there.
K: Yes that was the scene. He's just chillin in the back like he's to strum a guitar for money.I also didn't think it was too heavy-handed. Haha. Because it was to humanize Ryu and show that he is the complete opposite of Bison.
NR: One of the most important scenes is when Chun-Li fights Vega. It's especially important to Guile. What did you think of the scene?
K: Okay. So the Vega & Chun-Li scene is my favorite in this movie. And not because of the infamous shower scene that comes before. I like both Vega and Chun-Li, not only was it just an awesome fight, but i completely agree with you on the importance to the scene. It's the catalyst for the rest of the events of the movie to snowball.
It gets Bison & Guile into action. Unfortunately we never get a follow-up to what happens to Vega. It also shows us that these battles are for keeps. Chun-Li gets messed the hell up.
NR: It was important, but I think it over sexualised Chun-Li just a little bit. Nearly every frame seemed to show off her underwear. She did a lot of a high kicks.
But this scene did lead up to my favourite part of the whole movie: Guile is standing by Chun-Li, promising to take down Bison. As he does so, he actually flexes his muscles for absolutely no reason. You can't beat that scene.
K: I can defend this sexualization for Chun-Li on a realistic level though. Sure, we didn't NEED a scene where Chun-Li is in the shower, or one where we're gonna get a lot of panty shots, but since we got one, what’s the merit of that scene in context of her being a lady? - Well, a lot of ladies, if they're home alone, if they're comfortable enough, will just hang out in their underwear cause why not? So instead of forcing the animation to censor her underwear, they just went with it.
NR: I don't think there's any intention to show "realism" by including over the top shower scenes and underwear shots...
K: On the subject of Vega and Bison, I just want to point out this piece of trivia simply because I think it's really funny. In the beginning when we see the government going over some street fighter characters we see Balrog (black boxer), Vega and Sagat. In the "name" plate of their bio, for Balrog we get "M. Bison" and Vega we get "Balrog." This isn't a translation error, but a direct translation to their Japanese names.
Balrog is M. Bison in Japan (because of Mike Tyson), Bison is Vega in Japan, and Vega is Balrog. America switched their names because they were afraid of a lawsuit by Tyson, as well they didn't think "Vega" sounded like a big baddie name.
Sorry, onward with the show!
Overall the story I thought was pretty strong for what it was. It shouldn't have force-fed all the characters it did, but it at least had more thought put into than most adaptations of games. Everyone in a way had a "purpose" for being in the film. The clichés WERE definitely strong, but not too much that it was over saturated with them. In my opinion. - Bison' involving Ken in the plot by taking over his mind seemed like a late development idea. And don't even get me started on that final image of Ryu about to fight Bison driving a truck.
NR: The story could have been worse, I'll give you that.
I don't think Ken should have been involved at all, though. He's Chuck Norris to Ryu's Bruce Lee! Kind of pointless and bland, especially when put next to better characters.
You could definitely tell the movie is from the 1990s. Especially with the soundtrack, which feels like it was ripped from every 90's movie ever.
To be fair to it, the animation wasn't too bad. Plenty of skill was involved in some of the fight scenes, but it stillhad the “cheap 90’s cartoon” vibe.
K: Hahaha, another thing we differ on, it seems. True, hard rock was definitely the theme of the '90s. But I thought it fit with the movie well. I will say though that the music is an American insert, I don't recall what the music is like in the original Japanese version, but the music is different in Japan.
The animation was pretty good, for what it was. Not the greatest animation, but those fight scenes were pretty well animated. The very worst frame in the movie animation wise is Cammy's snail tongue when she's captured by security. I don't understand why the dedicated several frames to that tongue. But the animation is just pretty standard, not exactly of the elite. You could tell there was a clear budget.
The direction too could've been much better. Again, I’ll say they put more thought into this film than others, but it felt like the director wanted to have more screen time to each character than we got. And that would've been very bad.
NR: The directing was a bit sloppy, I think. Rushed and slapped together without too much thought.
K: I don't think we're going to agree on this film. Haha But before we got to final scores, I wanna know what your affection to Street Fighter is?
It's my favorite fighting game series. So that's probably why I'm sort of biased to this movie. When I've seen 'almost' every adaptation of the games I find this one to be the better one of all of them. Most kids grew up loving Tekken more, and for me it was Street Fighter. What about you?
NR: Street Fighter was always the fighting game I played the most, followed by Tekken. I like Street Fighter well enough, but I was never really a fighting game fan.
I actually much preferred Killer Instinct, over all the fighting games I have played. You could play as a raptor AND a werewolf. And a skeleton. And a robot. That game had some cool fighters
K: I've heard of that game, never played it though. If it wasn't SF, I was a Mortal Kombat fiend. But that already sounds like an amazing line-up of fighters. Remind me to hunt that down.
I don't think it's any surprise here for final score, though.
K: Final Score: 3.5 Hadouken Attacks out of 5
NR: 1 Raul Julia out of 5
K: Fair enough. We'll definitely have to do this again sometime, even if we didn't agree this time around. Thanks for being on Ninja Ross! It was great having you.
HADOUKEN! Have you seen "Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie"? How did you like it?