Street Fighter: The Movie
Donkey: Our journey began as all things, indeed even the world itself, must begin: with Jean Claude Van Damme. But with a cinematic body of work like his, what Van Damme movie were we to start with? It was like being faced with a veritable buffet of dong-punching excellence and trying to figure out where to start. But after spending a mere two hours repeatedly playing the same level of the NES classic turd sandwich, Ninja Gaiden 3, we achieved a height of tedium that few could experience without swearing that they had entered the seventh circle of hell and the answer became clear. As it is widely acknowledged throughout humankind’s recorded knowledge, there are extremely few movies that involve the phrase “based on a videogame” that are not utter bullshit. There was no better place to start. And as faltering in the face of this dark territory was not an option, we knew that our resolve on this virgin voyage would only be strengthened by the ray of hope that was Van Damme (hereby referred to as “JCVD”, “Johnny Splits”, or simply “Sweetness”).
Milobar: I’ve met whores that are less willing to spread their legs than JCVD is.
Donkey: Goddamn right. And I’ve got it on good authority that even the hairs on Van Damme’s scrotum can do the splits on command. He would be the only shepherd who could guide this humble flock through the darkness and into the sunshine of Infinite Awesomeness. And lead he did, friends. Lead he did.
Donkey: Street Fighter: The Movie is loosely based on the smash hit videogame Street Fighter II. And we do stress the term “loosely”, as it wouldn’t really be surprising to discover that the movie was equally based on a hooker-fueled meth binge, or a bout of explosive diarrhea brought on by licking the floor of a Cambodian slaughterhouse. The first warning sign of the quality that we were about to endure was the fact that a movie based on a fighting tournament does not feature a tournament anywhere in the plot. It’s not even close. They might as well have taken the characters from the game and had them reenact The Terminator, Short Circuit 2, or Terms of Endearment. It would have been just as goddamn relevant.
Milobar: Don’t forget, this isn’t just a movie based on a video game. It’s a movie based on a video game that was also the basis for another video game. Street Fighter: The Game: The Movie: The Game is one of the greatest experiences the human species has ever known.
Donkey: Wholeheartedly agreed. You just haven’t lived until you’ve nailed Captain Sawada in the junk while doing the splits as a digitized JCVD. And while we’re on the subject, why is Sawada even in the game? Did his two lines and zero fighting scenes in the movie actually impress someone other than his grandmother? I’d rather fight with a horribly digitized version of the film’s caterer.
Street Fighter: The Movie features JCVD playing the role of Colonel Guile, and an assortment of other actors who are sadly not JCVD rounding out the rest of the cast.
Milobar: My personal favorite is the Hawaiian actor who, looking as non-Japanese as possible was absolutely born to play E. Honda.
Donkey: It makes about as much sense as a Belgian with a thick French accent playing an American. But the most notable of this lot is Raul Julia playing General Bison…
Milobar: …whose death, after watching this movie, appears more and more to be a desperate suicidal call for help.
Donkey: He is the brutal yet happy-go-lucky dictator of the magical land called Shadaloo. There’s no need to look for it on any map, as the movie figures that since it’s clear that white people don’t live there, nobody will know or care if it really exists or not (a quick test to prove the point: without looking, explain where Argentina is on the globe…yeah, exactly). Bison is embroiled in a civil war and what appears to be an extended tickle fight with the AN, or Allied Nations, which would be the equivalent of the UN if the UN were run by the Village People.
Milobar: As opposed to being run by My Chemical Romance, as it currently appears to be.
Donkey: But just as it appears that the AN forces, lead by Colonel Guile, have turned the tide of the war in their favor, Bison makes the brash and horribly predictable decision to kidnap AN aid workers and the AN soldiers protecting them so that he can demand 20 billion dollars in hard currency or Starbucks gift cards.
Milobar: An interesting aside: this movie came out in 1994, when I was 15 years old and had never set foot in a Starbucks in my life. In fact, I don’t think I even knew what a Starbucks was, other than a shitty character from a shitty TV show about shitty robots chasing shitty humans across a shitty universe.
Donkey: We are children of the 80s, after all. Come to think of it, why wasn’t there a Battlestar Galactica NES videogame back in the day? I would have totally played that, especially if the game started with a level where Apollo had to leap across a series of platforms to retrieve his bellbottoms after a wild night of disco dancing and robot dog love.
Since Bison has raised the stakes of this intestinal cramp inducing poker game, it is up to Guile to team up with fellow world warriors, who are conveniently in the neighborhood to fulfill quests of their own (whether it’s Chun Li’s quest for the vengeance of her father’s death or Ryu and Ken’s quest to apparently give everyone a high five) so that they can defeat Bison and end his reign of terror once and for all. That is, unless Bison is wearing a suit that simultaneously gives him CPR, an injection of Red Bull directly to the taint, and a hand job in the event of injury, thus somehow making him fucking immortal…but what are the odds of that?!
Milobar: In the industry, although I’m not sure exactly what industry I am referring to (textiles?), that last sentence is what professionals like to call foreshadowing. Or as I like to personally call it: hey, asshole, we just told you what is going to fucking happen.
The Case for Greatness (aka The Lowlights):
Donkey: The movie started by showing us the very definition of kick ass, as JCVD entered the film by jumping down off the front of the goddamn tank that he was riding to do an interview with Chun Li, despite the fact that he’s in an active war zone. One can only assume that when you’re JCVD, either you need an armored chariot just to carry the weight of your massive balls, or you believe that you’re the Grand Marshall of an unfortunately timed pride parade. And he’s a colonel? What kind of idiot would put a man who rides on the front of a fucking tank like he’s on a surfboard in charge of others?
Donkey: And it was even sadder that he wasn’t alone riding that tank. There was actually a group of people who thought that the possibility of rogue sniper fire or even just falling off the front of the tank and being horribly crushed if it should happen to hit an unseen bump in the road was a risk worth taking for no foreseeable reward. But a few scenes later, JCVD upped the ante with armored vehicles, as this time he crashed one through the side of a building to interrupt a cage fight. The fact that his vehicle was carrying what appeared to be two missiles mounted on either side of it was odd enough, but the missiles actually protruded out past its front, meaning that when the vehicle impacted the wall, the missiles would have been the first thing to hit. Now, granted that while two of us are technically scientists, none of us are actually PhD-carrying Rocket Scientists. But regardless, that seemed like excessively poor planning. Why not just bust through the wall like the Kool-Aid man wearing a vest made entirely out of C4 while carrying two lit blowtorches and sporting a cocked mousetrap over your junk and see how that works out for you?
Milobar: Greatest Halloween costume ever.
Donkey: And even if there was no risk of them exploding, what is the fucking use of having long range missiles at that particular moment? To launch at the people standing four feet in front of you? “Freeze everyone, or I’ll input the launch codes, turn two keys simultaneously, wait for the thrusters to warm up…” But of course, this cage match was the direct result of Ryu and Ken trying to sell Sagat, Bison’s primary ally and cage-fighter-turned-arms-dealer, a shipment of guns that shoot tennis balls, which is a plan that could only be better if the guns were neon colored and had “Nerf” written on the side of them. So I guess it makes sense in a roundabout way that the only way to end a scene that started with head-shaking stupid is by ending it with George W stupid.
Bison proved to be an equally baffling character, and it was the little touches that really attracted the flies to this tightly coiled pile of perfection. The first thing that we noticed in his opening scene was that he’s riding a levitating, Sharper Image multi-media control center. Even beyond its apparent lack of purpose, who the hell took the time to develop that? That’s the kind of ridiculous and unnecessary technology that guys in your high school A/V club would dream up in between sessions of masturbating to the fantasy of Shatner banging their female World of Warcraft avatar.
Later on in a scene where Bison was interrogating Chun Li, we got a peek at his private office and all its glory. It contained a chandelier made entirely of human remains, which seemed unfittingly morbid in an otherwise campy film. Especially since the other item that really stood out in the scene was a painting of Bison in uniform, made up like a sad clown. With that kind of contradiction, I was almost expecting the camera to pan around to find a bloated, half-decayed human corpse chained to the wall next to a singing, mounted fish wearing a sombrero.
The entire scene in Bison’s office really came to a grand pinnacle of awesomeness when he and Chun Li began fighting. She put Bison through a glass panel at the base of his mini-bar head first, and as he was pushed into it, the backing of the case came away and you could see through the set wall to the soundstage behind it. The only thing that could have made this better was if a group of teamsters was standing on the other side, checking each other’s well-developed guts in a competition to see which of them had more discarded beer nuts trapped in their belly button lint. Even if you didn’t have the budget to have a back up plate of glass handy to re-shoot this scene, you have to love the fact that they didn’t cut away from the shot a split second before you see this gem.
Milobar: But the greatest moment during this whole wet dream for geeks was when Bison responded to Chun Li’s accusation of murdering her father, telling her that he didn’t remember it:
Bison: “For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me…it was Tuesday.”
Donkey: Unquestionably the highlight of the scene, one of the greatest moments in the movie, and one of the best lines ever written. That’s goddamn poetry. But the two main characters of the movie didn’t hold a monopoly on stupidity. This was supposed to be a Street Fighter movie, after all, and last we checked, if you plunked a quarter into a Street Fighter II arcade cabinet, you got more than one garbled pillow fight between Guile and Bison in a kiddy pool full of rancid tapioca.
In this movie, Blanka was actually Carlos Blanka, and rather than being a feral orphan raised in the jungles of Brazil, he was JCVD’s best friend and fellow soldier who was one of the hostages that Bison had captured. Of course, JCVD was fucking brilliant enough to leak this information right in front of Bison in the first ten fucking minutes of the film. So Bison decided to have Dr Dhalsim (whom, for all you Dhalsim fans from the games, was obviously about as much of a fighter as an arthritic octogenarian in the dementia stage of syphilis) use Blanka as his test subject to become a genetically altered soldier. This was done on not only a physical level by pumping him full of multi-colored, generically named fluids that may as well have been labeled “Make-U-Stronger Juice”*, but also on a mental level by subjecting him to a constant stream of violent images, ala A Clockwork Orange. It just seems to write itself, doesn’t it?
Milobar: * Make-U-Stronger Juice is a registered trademark of Shitty Movie Night Productions Limited Incorporated
This is probably the first, and only, time you will ever read me saying this, but I wish the writers had taken a cue from Mel Brooks and instead of subjecting Blanka to a series of violent images, had merely forced him to watch a VHS tape of Street Fighter: The Movie on repeat. After about 3 full viewings, any human would be willing to kill any other human with their bare hands and/or an electrical discharge through their skin.
Donkey: But as much as all that gives me the same strange tingly feelings in my pants that I rarely experience outside of pumping a chemical toilet, it was Dhalsim’s act of mercy that really made my pants stand up and salute. To keep Blanka from becoming a completely psychopathic killing machine (which is apparently very easy to measure exactly, as his level was at 49% at the time of said mercy), Dhalsim swapped the barrage from “bad” imagery (killing, fire, etc) to a stream of “good” imagery (weddings, children, etc) that he just happened to have handy. Of course, maybe it’s just me, but the idea of being subjected to a constant torrent of footage involving weddings and children would probably drive me even harder down the path of murderous rage.
Milobar: I have to interject at this point. Regardless of my previous comments about being driven into an insane rage by Street Fighter: The Movie, who the fuck actually thinks that just watching a bunch of videos of violence would cause someone to become a homicidal maniac? I mean, seriously, they basically just make Blanka watch CNN for a couple days.
Donkey: While every bit of logic I’ve ever had begs me to agree with you, my friend, I just take a moment to imagine what it would be like being subjected to back to back episodes of Hannah Montana for days on end. Once you unleashed me, I promise that the living would envy the dead.
The hits just kept on rolling as the movie reached its climactic final battle, much like getting to the dry heave stage after a night of hard drinking; you figure that things will get better now that you’ve already thrown up those dozen doughnuts that you ate on a bet, only to discover that it gets much, much worse. Apparently, you had bratwurst for lunch. The finale began with one of the greatest motivational speeches ever given outside of a high school girls’ field hockey team.
JCVD stood up before his troops, all forty of them, and essentially told them that they can go home and give up the fight, or they could go with him and finish it. If you haven’t seen this movie then your life isn’t complete, but at least Google it and watch this scene. I swear it’s so inspirational that the three of us spent the last forty five minutes of the film giving a constant standing ovation, even though it served only as a consolation after we realized that we couldn’t grab our coats and actually go join him ourselves. Granted, after fifteen minutes it became a little awkward, then after thirty minutes it actually turned into a bizarre cheering/bawling combination of jubilation and horrifying desperation. But regardless, the point is that it was damn touching.
After JCVD supplied us with that five minute oratory orgasm, the final assault on Bison’s lair almost began. But not before JCVD took some time to watch a brief video clip of what appeared to be him and Blanka attempting to get laid (which is just a goddamn creepy thing to be carrying on you) and remember what his motivation was for the apparent suicide run. Hey, finding a good wingman for the bar ain’t easy. The assault consisted of an attack lead up a river by JCVD and his “stealth” boat. What exactly made it a boat stealthy, you ask? Apparently running a simple electric current over what appeared to be a fairly unremarkable speed boat that some asshole painted black and decked out with an exceptionally ridiculous spoiler. And why not, really? Keep in mind that when we’re talking about stealth, we’re not only talking about the boat being invisible to radar. No, that kind of technology is for wimps and commies. Apparently if you look at this boat through a regular camera, it’s literally invisible to the naked eye as well. Seriously, that’s a pretty magical fucking boat.
Milobar: That’s what she said! Hey-o!
Donkey: And as that boat of kickassery made its hidden assault up the river, there was nothing that reinforced what kind of budget this movie had quite like showing random explosions of nothing that were supposed to represent the boat taking out radar stations. Fuck, blow up a three inch model of a radar station, or steal generic scenes of radar stations exploding from other movies, or even just blow up a cardboard box labeled “radar station”.
Milobar: Do the splits and have an explosion come out of your crotch.
Donkey: Do something. Showing the scene of the goddamn Death Star blowing up at end of A New Hope repeatedly would be more impressive than just blowing up nothing.
Milobar: Speaking of which: Turkish Star Wars anyone?
Donkey: But our master villain Bison wasn’t going to take this kind of assault lying down. No, no…he was bright enough to take a light nap in the late morning after getting kicked in the face by Chun Li so that he would be rested and prepared. How prepared? So prepared that he got onto his Sharper Image floating command station, grabbed the controls which consisted of the exact control console of a Super Street Fighter II arcade cabinet (yes, because a story missing the tournament plotline and hiring failed soap opera stars to play the series’ two most important characters is easily made up for by randomly throwing in a fucking joystick that we’ve seen before…bravo, assholes), and proceeded to play the greatest game that a criminal mastermind could hire EA to develop: Mines In The River Make Stealth-Boat Go Explode Awesome Yeah!!! That’s right; he used his console to release mines that were supposed to blow the boat up. And after a few minutes of predictable failure, he did what all gamers do when they’re having their asses handed to them in a fighting game by a superior opponent; he mashed all the buttons at once in an attempt to pull off some type of ultimate cheap move, which in this case unleashed all the mines at once. Of course, those of us that have an IQ higher than a dehydrated apricot with Down syndrome would wonder why the hell he didn’t just do that in the first place. It’s a good thing that our heroes had the forethought to eject from the boat and swim to shore (and yet were somehow standing on the shoreline a few minutes later with hair and clothes that were remarkably bone dry), or all would be lost.
The battle between Guile and Bison was then set to begin, and just like every other pivotal moment in the movie, why not start it with a moment of ball-clenching confusion? Once it was clear that he wasn’t getting paid the absurdly modest amount that he asked for, Bison decided to raise the pod that Blanka had been kept in during his transformation and unleash him upon his hostages so that everyone around him could enjoy the hilarious spectacle of wholesale slaughter.
But instead of Blanka stepping out of the pod, JCVD quite literally flew out of it in a jump kick that cleared about thirty feet. Now, if there was a lot of wire-fighting in this movie, we wouldn’t have batted an eye at this. But this was literally the only time that the movie decided to wipe its ass with the theory of gravity, so it wouldn’t have been more out of place if JCVD was replaced with a housecat just for this scene.
Once that kick is thrown, all hell broke loose. Honda and Zangief ended up rolling around in unbridled passion that they masqueraded as fighting, Ryu and Ken ended up battling with Sagat and Vega (once again, by the way, the movie missed an extremely obvious opportunity to pay homage to the game, as Ryu and Sagat, the two classic rivals of the series, were not pitted against one another), and the rest of the army, that apparently stopped for cheeseburgers and reach-arounds, finally decided to show up.
And once the climactic final battle finally got underway, it perfectly captured all the elements that the movie itself consisted of: it started rather unremarkably, took a stunningly bizarre turn off the path of basic logic for a stroll down the lane of insanity, and ended with a ball-busting punch to the sack of intelligence that can only be described as “Van Dammage”. After a few minutes of fighting that was as lame as you could reasonably expect when one of its participants was a man well into his middle-aged years, Guile kicked Bison (rather poorly) into a computer console that proceeded to electrocute him. The day was saved! And what better way to celebrate than with exceptionally poor dialogue? Thinking that Bison was dead, Guile grabbed his communicator (what the hell was that thing supposed to be, anyways? I didn’t think videophone technology was exactly perfected in the early 90s) and finds Cammy waiting for him. Let’s all take a listen:
Cammy: “Colonel, are you alright?”
Guile: “I’m okay…I’m just half dead.”
Cammy: “And Bison?”
Guile: “…All dead!”
That’s the kind of brilliant line that you close a movie on for people to ponder amongst themselves in discussion groups and think-tanks for years to come, so one could reasonably expect that the movie was over. But no, it was just getting warmed up. While Guile was prattling on into his videophone, a random computer in the scene detected Bison’s injuries and initiated some kind of goddamn revival process internal to his suit that started by giving him CPR, then moved on to electric shocks, and finished with a shot of adrenaline. That’s it? That’s what is supposed to make him invincible?
And not only did Bison rise to continue the fight, he has also somehow had gained the ability to shock electricity from his fucking gloves, thus smacking JCVD down like he was Luke Skywalker facing off against the Emperor. I know that I’ve asked this before, but it can’t be asked enough because it kept coming up over and over…what the fuck was he waiting for? When your ass is getting handed to you badly enough that you need your suit to revive you, why not pull that little nugget out of your arsenal before you’re essentially beaten to death? Bison then revealed that not only could he then shoot electricity, but he could also make his boots glow which somehow caused him to fly. That’s right, I said fly. Seriously. And he used this ability to pull off the ultimate super-move: barreling through the air, face first and rather slowly, directly at his opponent. Thrilling! Yes, I realize this was an attempt to recreate Bison’s most effective special move from the game, but if you’re going to do it this badly, then you might as well have him bore Guile to death by reading him teenage angst-filled love notes instead. And after hitting Guile with this and then slapping him around with a little more lightning, Bison decided to hit him with that ultimate move one more time to bring the fight to a magnificent close. But this time, JCVD was ready. Did he duck, allowing Bison to soar past him overhead and probably go crashing headfirst into a wall? Nah, that’s too easy. Instead he struck back with a JCVD signature move, the leaping roundhouse splits-kick (or the Flying Ballerina, if you will). And even though this consisted of a sweeping motion, where his leg was clearly moving from one side to another, this somehow caused Bison to go soaring directly backwards upon impact. Sure, might as well give physics and basic logic one last fart soufflé. Bison sailed backwards and crashed into his wall of televisions, which brought the fight to a very underwhelming close. After all that, one simple kick finished the job. Outstanding.
Once Bison was dead, his army was vanquished, and no one appeared to be even slightly harmed (all that fighting and you don’t see so much as one dead body laying anywhere), our heroes all gathered for awkward chit-chat, a stumbling and pathetic attempt at romance between Guile and Chun Li that was about as awkward to witness as your slow cousin trying to hit on his sister, and to re-enact a random group picture that you were rewarded with when you beat the videogame for one last baffling reference to an irrelevant part of the videogame. But since this movie killed most of their careers, might as well allow the cast to part ways with a memento that serves as a grim final reminder as to what they traded their futures for.
Donkey: This movie starts with a solid punch to the dong and ends with a flying splits-kick to the face of anyone who dares wandering in unprepared for its glory. This is what shitty movies are all about. I have no choice but to give it 5 flying JCVDs out of 5.
Milobar: I own this movie on DVD. About 4 years ago, a co-worker heard me talking about this movie at work. A few days later he came in to my office and plopped the plastic case down on my desk; “Hey, I saw this movie at Wal-Mart for $4 and you liked it so much I thought I would buy it for you.” Thank you, overweight ex-co-worker. This movie is the greatest investment I never made.
What We Learned:
Donkey: War is hell, unless get a blue beret and a stealth boat, you fucking sissy. Then it’s just damn whacky.
Milobar: Real heroes always strike a stunning pose of unabated gayness after a successful battle. Including the misunderstood Russian wrestler who I’m pretty sure was a bad guy up until the last 30 seconds of the film.