Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Street Fighter: a lesson in films that are simply unnecessary.

...or, "Why Zangief was the best part of the film."

I don't know why I watched this film. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, something campy to entertain while I sat knitting on the couch. However, it soon became clear that what I had unleashed was so bad that it couldn't be ignored. I needed to focus all of my attention on the movie so that I could hate with 100% of my focus.

This is Street Fighter. Released in 1994, directed by...wait, what? No...no, this can't be.

The film is directed by Steven E. de Souza, the genius screenwriter behind such classics as, 48 Hours, Commando, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Hudson Hawk, and (I think his best work) the TV movie Gotta Catch Santa Claus. Now, these might not be the highest caliber of film titles, these might not even be the best he's made, but they're all classics in my book. Every single one of these movies is damn entertaining, and entertaining goes a long way.

But wait, I guess I can let him off the hook. He's a screenwriter, after all, not necessarily a director. That brings up my next point: the writing in this movie is painfully bad. Let's see who wrote it...Oh shit, it was him.

Let me give you some of my favorite quotes from the movie:

Colonel William F. Guile: It's the Collection Agency, Bison. Your ass is six months over due, and it's mine.

Chun Li: Colonel Guile! How about that interview... for my network?
Colonel William F. Guile: Sure... but only if you wear that dress!

Victor Sagat: Vega is the greatest cage fighter since Iron Fist.
Ken: What happened to him?
Victor Sagat: He retired... and became me.

Okay, okay, enough of that. The movie can't go for more that five minutes without trying to spout a catchy 90s one-liner (de Souza basically invented the one-liner, have you even seen commando?!). The best part of the movie isn't the acting, or the action, it's watching Jean Claude Van Damme (hereafter referred to as JCVD to save space) try to be the American action star with a muddy Belgian French accent that's barely a notch above Tommy Wisseau's in terms of diction.

But let's not focus on the specifics of JCVD's acting chops. After all, he's not here to act, he's here to scissor kick some chumps. The action sequences are purely 90s, with too many explosions, too many quick cuts, and waaaaay too much cheese. In the final fight sequence especially, between Raul Julia's M. Bison and JCVD as Guile, barely a second goes by between cuts, and on top of that, several bits of footage were used multiple times to pad out the fight. The rest of the sequences are filled with one-hit KO minions, guns that might as well fire blanks (since no one ever gets hit), and poorly choreographed and even more poorly executed martial arts.

And one other thing: what's with all of the skinny actors playing street fighters? Street fighter is full of strangely proportionate fighters (have you seen Chun Li's thighs? Yeesh.) but the least they could have done in their over-the-top action movie is get some fighters with a bit of bulk. When Ken and Ryu are first introduced, I expected these twiglets of men to get snapped in half. Sure, maybe they're decent fighters, but I just can't take them seriously in a movie like this. At no point is this movie trying to be realistic, so why should we settle for realistic (read: wimpy (for action movie standards)) physiques on the fighters. And don't even get me started on Blanka. He's supposed to be a fucking beast, not a skinny cro-magnon in green body paint!

I believe I've proved my point.

But before I stray too dangerously far into righteous anger review mode, let's talk about the positive, the highlight of the film. There is only one highlight. Zangief.

Now this guy looks the part.

Not only is the character played in a very interesting way, he's the kind-hearted goon that's been tricked into fighting for the wrong side, but he's also got the two best lines in the movie.

The first, when a truck is barreling at the...I guess it's some kind of tent, I wasn't paying attention...the tent in which M. Bison and Gang are being evil. The goons are watching the truck drive towards them on a CCTV monitor. Seeing the immediate solution to the problem, Zangief shouts, "Quick, change the channel!"

C'mon, that's funny. You might've had to be there. The second line comes later, in a dialogue with Dee Jay, reproduced below.

: DEE JAY! Why you arent in your uniform? The enemies of peace and freedom are at our halls!
Dee Jay: Are you totally demented mon? Our boss is the enemy of freedom and peace these people have come all over the world to stop him. If you are smart you save your own ass!
Zangief: Wait! Bison is a bad guy! If you know vhy make use of him
Dee Jay: Because he paid me a freakin' fortune you moron!
[runs off]
Zangief: [stupidly] You got paid?

He's just so adorable in this bit, realizing that the man that he'd idolized had betrayed him. He plays it like a puppy who had been suddenly refused a treat. Not sad, exactly, just...disappointed.

And that's my quick review of Street Fighter. It's been reviewed to death, so nothing I've said has been original, but it's good to get these things out.

Stay tuned for more ramblings, I'll be back in a bit. Cheers.

[Quotes courtesy IMDB.com]

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