Street Fighter was a major Box Office disaster in 1994 killing almost what career Jean-Claude van Damme had. It was one of those movies that showed us that a good video game does not guarantee a good movie. It’s up there with other “gems” like Super Mario Brothers, Double Dragon and tons of movies directed by Uwe Boll. Only the last couple of years have movies based on video games become better. Still, the first Citizen Kane still has to be made but the Tomb Raider movies, Silent Hill, the Resident Evil franchise and the first Mortal Kombat proof that not every spin off is a complete disaster.
So some executive must have decided to dust of the Street Fighter franchise and give it another try. Maybe it’ll work this time!
It doesn’t. Come on people, what were you thinking? This is a franchise about over the top characters (Blanka!) beating the shit out of each other on the streets. Hence the title. Why not ehm… make a movie about over the top characters beating the shit out of each other on the streets? I don’t know, it’s just a suggestion. Look at Mortal Kombat. It worked for that movie. But no, again they come up with a story about Shadaloo, the crime organization run by Bison, which terrorizes neighborhoods and has devious plans. Sure they’re on a less grand scale than in the previous Street Fighter movie but it’s still the same.
The movie tries too hard to give a character like Chun-li, mostly known for her spinning bird kick, an elaborate back-story. Not something we’re waiting for. For those of you who are interested in it, in short it’s this. Chun-li’s dad was kidnapped by Bison because he had connections Shadaloo could use. Chun-Li hasn’t seen him for 15 years and became a talented piano player until she received a mysterious scroll. She goes on a mission to find her father using her super-duper fighting skills. Well not so super-duper actually because in the center of the movie she gets trained by a guy named Gen.
Now you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned all those fan favorite characters yet. Basically because they aren’t here. No Guile, Ken, Ryu, Zangief or Dhalsim. You probably guessed that Blanka would be out of the picture but they really left a lot pf people out. Now I’m only a Street Fighter II player from back in the day so I don’t know every character that was released of the last 15 years but it felt to me like they really left a lot of characters out. They wouldn’t have if they set up a tournament-plot or something like that.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li has a lot action sequences, fortunately as these movies don’t revolve about plots. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak knows how to stage good action scenes as we have witnessed in movies like Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 The Grave. This time the scenes fail to leave an impression. Come to think of it: the man’s previous movie was Doom. Another video game adaptation and not a very good one either. Andrzej, stick to urban action movies. You are so much better at them apparently.
To me the best Street Fighter adaptation is still Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. That movie does do more justice to the source material than both live action films. Maybe the 2-dimensional source material excels in a 2-dimensional movie. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li might be live action, it’s pretty 1-dimensional.