Street Fighter (1994 film)
Street Fighter is a 1994 Japanese-American action film written and directed by Steven E. de Souza, based on the Street Fighter video game series, produced by Capcom. It stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raúl Juliá, along with supporting performances by Byron Mann, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, Ming-Na Wen and Wes Studi.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven E. de Souza|
|Screenplay by||Steven E. de Souza|
|Based on||Street Fighter|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
Loosely following the plot of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, the film focuses on the efforts of Colonel Guile (Van Damme) to bring down General M. Bison (Juliá), the military dictator and drug kingpin of Shadaloo City who aspires to conquer the world with an army of genetic supersoldiers, while enlisting the aid of street fighters Ryu (Mann) and Ken (Chapa) to infiltrate Bison's empire and help destroy it from within.
The film was a commercial success, with a worldwide box office gross approximately three times its production costs, and its home video releases and television broadcasts were also profitable, with the film earning Capcom a return of ¥15.5 billion ($165 million) from the box office and home media, but the film itself was not well-received by critics or fans of the games for its campy tones, use of characters and unfaithfulness to the source material. Raúl Juliá's performance as M. Bison, however, was widely praised and garnered him a posthumous nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Saturn Awards, while the film was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. The film was also Julia's final theatrical performance, as he died of a stroke two months before the film's release; the film is dedicated to his memory.
An intended reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, was released in 2009 to critical and commercial failure, while a much more positively-received British television series focusing on Ryu and Ken, Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist, was released in 2014.
In the Southeast Asian nation of Shadaloo, civil war has erupted between the forces of drug lord-turned General M. Bison and the Allied Nations led by Colonel William F. Guile. Bison has captured several A.N. relief workers, and via a live two-way radio broadcast, demands Guile secure a US$20 billion ransom in three days. Guile refuses and vows to track Bison down and place him on trial for his crimes, but his assistant, Sergeant Cammy, is only partially able to pinpoint Bison's location to the river-delta region outside the city. One hostage is Guile's friend Sergeant Carlos "Charlie" Blanka, who Bison orders taken to his lab for his captive doctor and scientist, Dhalsim, to turn into the first of his supersoldiers. Though Charlie is severely disfigured by the procedure, Dhalsim secretly alters his cerebral programming to maintain Charlie's humanity.
American con artists Ryu Hoshi and Ken Masters attempt to swindle arms dealer Viktor Sagat by providing him with fake weaponry. Sagat sees through the ruse and has Ryu fight his cage champion, Vega, but Guile bursts in and arrests everyone present for violating a curfew. In the prison grounds, Guile witnesses Ryu and Ken fighting Sagat's men, and recruits them to help him find Bison in exchange for their freedom, since Sagat is Bison's arms supplier. They are given a homing device and win Sagat's trust by staging a prison escape and faking Guile's death. However, news reporter Chun-Li, whose father was killed by Bison, and her crew, former sumo wrestler E. Honda and boxer Balrog, who are out for revenge against Sagat for ruining their careers, stumble across the plan, and over Guile's objections, attempt to assassinate the two warlords at a party. To maintain Bison's trust, Ryu and Ken stop the assassination and reveal the conspirators to Bison.
Returning to his base, Bison inducts Ryu and Ken into his organization and orders Honda and Balrog imprisoned and Chun-Li taken to his quarters. Ryu and Ken break Balrog and Honda out of confinement and rush to confront Bison, who is fighting Chun-Li, but Bison escapes and releases sleeping gas, sedating them all. Guile plans his assault on Bison's base. He is impeded by the Deputy Secretary of the A.N., who informs Guile that the decision has been made to pay Bison the ransom, but Guile and his loyal troops nevertheless proceed with the mission. At the base, Dhalsim is found out by a security guard; during the ensuing fight, Charlie is released, and he kills the guard to protect Dhalsim. Guile arrives and sneaks into the lab, where he encounters Charlie. Guile prepares to shoot Charlie to end his suffering, but Dhalsim stops him. Bison prepares to kill the hostages by unleashing Charlie on them, but Guile emerges and engages Bison's guards until the remaining A.N. forces arrive. After Bison makes it clear that he will not surrender peacefully, Guile orders his allies to rescue the hostages and engages Bison in a personal duel. As Guile and Bison fight, Ryu and Ken defeat Sagat and Vega. Bison's computer expert Dee Jay flees through a secret passage, joined by Sagat, while Bison's bodyguard, Zangief, engages Honda in a fight until learning from Dee Jay that Bison was the true enemy, and sides with Ryu and Ken to save the hostages.
Guile gains the upper hand against Bison and kicks him into a bank of hard drives, electrocuting him. A revival system restores Bison and he reveals that his suit is powered by electromagnetism, enabling him to fly and fire electricity. Bison takes control of the fight, beating Guile viciously, and moves to deal the death blow, but Guile counters by kicking Bison into his monitor wall, finishing him off and overloading the base's energy field. The hostages are rescued, but Guile stays behind to convince Dhalsim and Charlie to return with him. They refuse, with Dhalsim wishing to atone for his part in mutating Charlie. Guile flees the exploding base and reunites with his comrades.
In a post-credits scene, Bison is revived once again amidst his ruined command center to try his hand at world conquest one more time.
- 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 "Charlie" 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
The film's production budget was ¥4 billion ($35 million), with Capcom alone financing most of the budget. 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. DeSouza says he wrote the initial draft of the script overnight, being made aware that Capcom executives were in Los Angeles on short notice and because he himself was a fan of the game.
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 of the film's $35-million 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 from her cover photo on a "World's 30 Most Beautiful People" edition of Who magazine. Japanese actor Kenya Sawada appeared in the film as a part of a promotional contract with Capcom.
The cast's physical training was handled by Hollywood trainer and world karate champion Benny Urquidez. Charlie Picerni was hired as the stunt coordinator; 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 environment 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 second and third quarters 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 the second quarter of 1994, with filming in Australia beginning after three weeks in Bangkok. DeSouza envisioned the attack on Bison's hide-out to include helicopters but was unable to do so due to the political instability in the neighbouring Myanmar, which is why the AN troops attack via boats instead.
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.
In a post-credits scene, Bison's computer is reactivated from solar power and the revival system restores Bison again. His fist smashes through the rubble and a computer screen is shown selecting "World Domination: Replay". This scene was omitted from the theatrical release "out of deference to Raul Julia".
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 had opened in New York and Los Angeles on December 23, 1994.
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.
The film was released on the VHS format in 1995, initially for video rental stores. In the United States, the film sold more than 250,000 rental tapes in 1995. The film was also broadcast on cable television, and later released on DVD and digital streaming. The film's home video releases and television broadcasts have been profitable for Capcom, which earned a return of ¥15.5 billion ($165 million) from the film's box office and home media revenue.
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". Writing for Variety, Emanuel Levy stated that the film "suffers from the same problems that impaired “Super Mario Bros.”: It’s noisy, overblown and effects-laden and lacks sustained action or engaging characters." Levy commented on Julia, referring to it as "his weakest performances, accentuating each and every syllable as if he were reciting a Shakespearean role of grand emotional range. It’s too bad, for this is the accomplished actor’s last film, and it is dedicated to him."
Leslie Felperin of Sight & Sound described Kylie Minogue as Cammy "hilarious miscasting as a military wench with Heidi plaits. The merest glimpse of her holding a bazooka and looking mean is enough to induce giggles in the most dour of viewers."
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale. It holds an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 37 critic reviews, with the consensus reading, "Though it offers mild entertainment through campy one-liners and the overacting of the late Raul Julia, Street Fighter's nonstop action sequences are not enough to make up for a predictable, uneven storyline."
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 Science Fiction Film and Best Supporting Actor (a posthumous nomination for Raúl Juliá).
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. Capcom also announced that an "enhanced port" was being created for the Sega 32X by their newly formed USA research and development department. This version was never released.
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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