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Anime Verdict: Street Fighter 2 The Animated Movie

By James Bullock Jul 8, 2018 - 7:33 AM print



Hello, We Want Insanity readers, and welcome to “Anime Verdict”. I am your host, “We Want Insanity’s Resident ROHbot”, bad girl wrangler, “Challenge” champion and anime connoisseur James Bullock. Through these series of columns, I hope to reveal a world that might be completely foreign to you; or something you’ve wanted to delve into, but never had the insight to know where to start. Today, I review the one that started it all in regards to anime adaptations of video games, “Street Fighter II The Animated Movie .”


Directed By: Gisaburo Sugii
Studio: Group TAC; Capcom; Sony Music Entertainment
Original Release: August 8, 1994
Runtime: 102 minutes

It is a dark & stormy night; the wind sounds like a howling of the banshees. Lightning strikes and thunder rumbles as two men stand face-to-face in the middle of it all. No, they weren’t thinking about how fast they could find haven. They stand with fists elevated, not afraid of being struck down by Mother Nature, but each other in this apparent battle to the death. Towering is the one fighter wearing an eye patch with a stance that only a master of Muay Thai could posses. Using his strong legs to push forward, the one-eyed individual unleashes an attack that puts his opponent in prime position for the death strike. But little does the aggressor know that his opposition – a dark haired man sporting a pristine white GI & a red head band – is ready to unleash an uppercut so powerful it rips open his attacker’s chest. During this confrontation, some type of scanner identifies these two combatants as Sagat – the Muay Thai expert – and Ryu. Staggered and bleeding profusely, Sagat goes for broke while Ryu prepares his own final attack: the Hadoken!

Rather than stick with the two men fighting, the scene switches to the assassination of a Justice Minister in London at the hands of a hypnotize M6 Agent that is later revealed to be Cammy. It is through Cammy’s actions that the focus of two men simply fighting for the sake of superiority in the middle of a field, or an Indian town, or for a bunch of rich people looking to get their rocks off watching two fighters kill each other aren’t the only reasons the world is changing. A crime syndicate known as Shadowlaw has set it sights on world domination, and the only way to achieve that goal is by creating the most powerful, unstoppable soldiers both mechanical and humanized (including brainwashed individuals) in nature.

Discovering the existence of Shadowlaw and its leader M. Bison, Captain Guile of the United States Military (apparently the entire military) steps forward in hopes of not only shutting down Shadowlaw, but also killing Bison to avenge the death of his best friend at the hands of this man sporting completely white eyes. Chinese Interpol agent Chun-Li – someone who too had suffered a great loss at the hands of Bison – suggests the two military forces work together; much to the chagrin of Guile to create a buddy cop style relationship between the two. But there will be a lot more blood than laughs as familiar faces start popping up, fists & kicks start flying, and a bunch of people share voiceless nods of approval when something goes right.

Hyper Fighting Action: More than likely anyone interested in watching this movie isn’t coming into it with the intent of learning more about the “Street Fighter” lore, seeing how good or bad the English dubbing is, or the infamous Chun Li shower scene (okay, maybe someone is simply watching it for some animated nudity). What someone really wants are some good old-fashioned fights that could only be inspired by the source material that is easily one of the greatest fighting games to ever exist. But instead of relying on fancy camera cuts or the over usage of fireballs, “Street Fighter 2’s” fights are mostly grounded in reality even when they get absurd. There’s a genuine weight and natural flow to every fight sequence that adds a great sense of realism that proves to be the polar opposite of the stereotypical anime clashes from franchises like “Dragon Ball Z”.

For example – there’s a battle between Blanka and Zangief midway through the movie. Instead of fully embracing the wackiness of a green mutant man taking on a jacked pro wrestler that would send Vince McMahon into convulsions if he existed and could wrestler like the Russian, the movie walks a fine line where as crazy as it to see a beast man turning into a human cannonball it comes across as believable thanks to perfectly placed shot of Blanka The more realistically grounded fights including a confrontation between Ryu and Fei Long are just as memorable as the ones where things get a little wild due to the chess match-like nature of witnessing two excellent martial artists trying to outdo one another in the heat of battle. To top it off is the usage of projectile attacks like the aforementioned Hadoken. Whenever a Hadoken is used, Ryu and his buddy Ken must concentrate and put forth great strength to accomplish the one move every gamer knows how to pull off with ease. Under the guidance of K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii and champion kickboxer Andy Hug, “Street Fighter II” does a better job at presenting over-the-top, yet believable fights than almost any anime during that time and, to a certain extent, even to this day.

Character Management: Though the movie’s title simply has “II” in it, the fact is everything about the movie is more accurately an adaptation of “Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers”. Not only is the core cast from “II” the video game involved in the movie, there’s also T. Hawk, Dee Jay, and the aforementioned Fei Long and Cammy. While some get more screen time than others, every character is handled with the utmost care and respect to the source material. Ryu is a quiet, helpful individual whose only concern is becoming stronger as a fighter while not ignoring the injustices around him. Guile’s hard-nosed attitude only hides the fact he’s emotionally scared from his best friend’s murder. M. Bison is a psychotic dictator wanting to conquer the world with no back-story to make anyone feel sympathetic to his reasoning & causes. Other than Akuma – who gets an unintentionally funny cameo – every mainline character from the game not only is given a spotlight (no matter how long or quick) to make any viewer both knowledgeable & ignorant of the lore to know exactly what he or she is about.

Impressive Dubbing: This one is up for debate due to power of nostalgia and the fact this review is dedicated to a western audience. Having watched both the dubbed and subbed versions, the feeling of consistency and, most importantly, proper usage of certain songs just fit better in the dubbed version than the original Japanese cut. One of the biggest examples is the first real scene featuring Ken as he drives through Seattle and the band Silverchair’s biggest hit starts echoing from the speakers. It doesn’t make any sense watching Ken listening to J-Pop in the mid-1990s during the height of the grunge era. The dubbing itself isn’t a weak point as excepted considering when the movie was released and how bad its contemporaries handled dubbing with a majority of the western cast fitting the characters – specifically Ryu (Skip Stellrechy), Guile (Kirk Thornton), Ken (Eddie Frierson), and Bison (Tom Wyner) – pretty perfectly.

Dan-Level Plot: While “II” does a great job presenting its characters, the narrative that brings them all together is anything but remarkable. As noted above, the main plot point is M. Bison’s need to conquer the world by slowly creating his own army; scouting fighters as they do battle around the globe in an effort to complete his mission. A lot of the plot is based on happenstance and not any real proper planning by the supposed mastermind antagonist. Things just simply fall into place and people fight. There are a bunch of plot holes and inconsistencies as well including T. Hawk’s fight with Ken just occurring for no reason – not a disrespectful shove, bad word between them, nothing. Yes, it is cool to see Ryu performing a Hadoken in a different animated form. But instead of sticking close to the source material in the same way as they did in presenting the characters themselves, they looked to modify the lore and ended up stubbing their toe by making the movie feel longer than it really is.

More than likely if you’re a “Street Fighter” fan you’ve seen some form of this movie, be it the edited version originally released in the west or the full-blown uncensored Japanese original cut featuring nude Chun-Li and a few f-bombs. A few years ago, Manga released the Blu-Ray version featuring both western and eastern cuts as well as a boatload of extras – making it the definitive purchase for anyone who just wants to kick back and watch some incredible animated fighting featuring characters that have become not only icons in their medium, but household names for an entire generation. It’s not perfect, but it’s still one of the best of its kind – be it a video game adaptation, kung fu animated movie, or both.




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