Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
January 20, 2022
Trouble is brewing in Shadaloo. The tiny nation has been taken over by the despotic General M. Bison (Raul Julia), who is holding around 60 international hostages for a ransom of $20 billion – money he will use to develop an army of super-soldiers. mutants, and further his plans for world domination. Seemingly, all that stands in his way are the declining military forces of the Allied Nations, led by Colonel Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who has made it his personal mission to defeat Bison.
Based on the huge arcade hit Street Fighter II, there are, of course, a dozen other named characters who needed to be pressed to appeal to the game’s young fans, sell action figures, and flesh out the movie’s ending storyline. Chun Li (Ming Na-Wen), TV news anchor and secret super spy, also has a personal vendetta to resolve with M. Bison, who murdered her father when he attacked their village. Ken and Ryu are two-fingered gun smugglers who infiltrate Sagat’s criminal organization. Charlie Blanka is Guile’s military best friend who becomes the unwitting guinea pig for Bison’s super-soldier experiment, granting him superhuman strength, green skin, and an unruly orange mane. Really, the whole gang is there: Zangief, Balrog, Vega, Cammy, E. Honda and even Dhalsim. They don’t have tonne to do, but hey, they’re there.
street fighter (1994) was almost entirely financed by Capcom, the company behind the game, and produced by Ed Pressman, whose illustrious credits included a surprisingly similar film based on a toy, masters of the universe (1987). It came at the height of Van Damme’s box office power, immediately after its success timecop, and the Belgian’s fees took up nearly a quarter of the film’s $35 million budget. The rest was shot at breakneck speed, first in Thailand – where shoddy facilities and political unrest led them to remove most of their footage – then on sound stages in Australia, so the film could sticking to its Christmas 1994 release date. As a result, the film’s budget seems stretched – the villains wear camo military uniforms that look like something you’d buy at a Cabela’s, and the sets – in particular, Bison’s sinister lab – look like something you’d see in one of the many Power Rangers knockoffs from the mid-90s.
Always, street fighter has charm, especially for viewers who can accept that this is a children’s movie and not hold their breath for too much Van Damme action. The highlight of the film is easily the 1000% committed performance of Raul Julia, who was very ill at the time but didn’t stop him from playing his bad guy role to the fullest. (Like masters of the universeThe memorable Skeletor, Frank Langella, Julia signed on to the film because his kids were big fans of the source material.) Not once did you get the sense he thought the material was beneath him , not even when rigged on a wire and flying slowly and awkwardly towards Van Damme with his fists outstretched.
Mill Creek’s Blu-ray Steelbook edition of the film is great – there are far better Van Damme films that don’t have bonus material a tenth as robust as what you’ll find here. Many archival features can still be found here, including deleted scenes and a Making Of mini-doc, as well as the unedited info spread that opens the film, but new attractions include all-new Ballyhoo interviews. Pictures with writer-director Steven DeSouza, Ed Pressman, Ming-Na Wen, actor Damian Chapa and composer Graeme Revell, a look at JCVD’s Universal years with action film expert david j. moore, and a look at Street Fighter video games by pop culture historian Oliver Harper. Let’s hope that whoever finally snatches the rights to publish a blood sport 4K UHD puts half the love in this version as it does in this one.
street fighterIt’s not a perfect movie, or even a half-perfect movie, but it’s a lot of fun and will definitely appeal to anyone who was young enough to be part of its target audience in the early 90s. This Blu-ray is awesome and is sure to please fans of the film.