Directed By: Steven E. de Souza
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia, Ming-Na
Tag line: "The fight to save the world begins 12-23-94"
Trivia: The controls to M. Bison's floating desk are identical to the controls of the Street Fighter video game
Inspired by the popular video game series, Street Fighter tells the harrowing tale of a world in peril. Power-hungry warlord General M. Bison (Raul Julia) and his followers have just taken control of the small country of Shadaloo, and in response, the Allied Nations (or A.N.) assembles a task force under the command of Col. William Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) to take down the General and restore peace to the region. But when Bison threatens to kill the A.N. relief workers he recently captured, Col. Guile goes against orders and enlists the help of a band of underground toughs known as street fighters, thus laying the groundwork for a secret assault that, if successful, will both rescue the prisoners and end Bison’s reign of terror once and for all.
I have to say, up-front, that I’m not at all familiar with the Street Fighter games. I remember playing the first generation of the series once or twice in arcades in the late ‘80s, but by the time Street Fighter 2 hit the market in the early ’90s, I was out of the picture entirely. So, I have absolutely no idea how faithful the movie is to the world of the game. But as far as the film itself goes, Street Fighter is 100% popcorn entertainment, with no brains at all and plenty of brawn. Street Fighter is more than “action-packed”, it’s nothing but action, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it falls apart every now and then (an early sequence, which features an arranged “escape” complete with a shoot-out and a minor plot twist, never reaches the level of excitement its makers intended), but not to worry; if one action scene doesn’t grab your attention, another will be along shortly to pick up the slack.
As for the two main stars of Street Fighter, Jean-Claude Van Damme is… well, Jean-Claude Van Damme! He's just fine as Col. Guile, mostly because the part isn’t all that demanding. Personally, though, I found Raul Julia’s flamboyance much more entertaining to watch. His Gen. Bison is the epitome of a movie bad guy, an over-the-top dictator who sees himself as a misunderstood hero, and Julia’s so boisterous in the role that I couldn’t help but like him.
Truth be told, Street Fighter is not a particularly well-made film, and does get a bit exhausting at times (its preference for mindless excitement over any sort of structure took its toll on me more than once), but with the one-two combination of continuous thrills and Raul Julia, it's certainly not the worst way to spend an hour and a half.