Sunday, June 21, 2009

Street Fighter

I like a lot of bad movies. I don't even mean that in an ironic "ho ho, the poor quality of this movie amuses me!" sort of way. I just have low standards, and if a movie is at least able to hold my attention for its duration, I'm usually willing to be pretty forgiving about whatever flaws it might have. I would never have attempted to watch so many movies based on a video games if I didn't have a pretty high tolerance -- some might even say an affinity -- for crap. With that said, Street Fighter is terrible, and I've been putting off writing this revue because I felt I'd already wasted too much of my life on it. So this is going to be a bit of a quickie.

This movie sat on my head and beefed. I couldn't tell you what the plot is, except that it involves M. Bison being dictator of a fictional country that looks like Thailand, and he's got some hostages, and a bunch of people named after characters from the video game Street Fighter II kill him and rescue the hostages. I guess that's pretty much it, actually, so just imagine that padded out to 102 minutes.

Along the way, you'll see all your favorite characters, like E. Honda, the Japanese sumo wrestler fat guy in a Hawaiian shirt; Dhalsim, the stretchy-limbed yoga master scientist; Chun Li, the undercover Interpol agent from whose mighty legs no one can escape TV news reporter; and Guile, the all-American Air Force colonel Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Highlights include Raul Julia's over-the-top performance as M. Bison, a sequence with a "stealth boat" that can turn invisible (as long as you ignore the hundred-foot wake trailing behind it), Jean-Claude Van Damme saying "I'm cunting on you," Zangief acting stupid, and Chun Li in handcuffs. Lowlights include pretty much everything else.

Perhaps I would be more receptive to this movie had I not recently seen the far superior animated movie based on the same source material, but probably not by much. It's just a really dull movie. To its credit, it has some pretty good production design and cinematography. One perplexing thing is that for a movie called Street Fighter, there's very little actual street fighting, or even martial arts of any kind. More often the action sequences are ridiculous stealth boats and military guys getting tossed over railings. I wouldn't really expect that that's what people would go to a Street Fighter movie to see.

I feel like if you're making a movie out of a video game that doesn't really lend itself to being made into a movie (i.e. most games), there are a couple of approaches you could take. You can be really faithful to the game, pandering to its fans and satisfying them but likely alienating everyone else, or you can just try to tell a good story that's only loosely based on the game, which is probably more likely to result in a good movie but may piss off the very people you were hoping the license would attract. This movie is somewhere in between: it takes a lot of liberties with the source material, in the service of a crappy, boring story. What's the point, I ask you?

But according to Wikipedia, this monstrosity actually grossed 99 million dollars and was considered a commercial hit, proving once again that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Next time:
a brief palate-cleansing non-video-game-movie interlude:
The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai

followed by

Mortal Kombat

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