The 1994 Hollywood adaptation of Capcom's million-selling Street Fighter series has gone down as something of a cult classic, which is movie code for saying "it was terrible". Released to almost universally scathing reviews, it nevertheless turned a profit and today is viewed with kinder eyes as a nostalgic throwback to a time when a film based on a video game was a big deal, even if it sucked.
The Guardian has published an incredible behind-the-scenes piece on the movie in which several of the cast and crew talk about the troubles which impacted its production - including ailing villains, military unrest, dodgy food, poor planning and a star who was seemingly more concerned with drink and drugs than actually getting his scenes done.
We won't spoil the piece by reproducing all of it here - you need to read this one in full if you're a fan of the series and remember this cinematic car-crash - but we'll supply some edited highlights.
For example, writer and director Steven de Souza recalls the first real headache he had to deal with, which was the illness of Raul Julia, who was playing the role of Bison, the film's antagonist. Julia was rumoured to fighting stomach cancer and the film would be his final role; he passed away from a stroke two months before it was released.
I got a phone call from our costume consultant. She’d gone ahead a day before us to meet Raul and she said: ‘We have a problem. He looks ghastly; he’s like a skeleton.’ We thought: ‘Oh god, what are we going to do? We can’t put him on camera.’ We decided to push all of Raul’s scenes to the end of the movie, so he could gain weight and we’d move other things up front. I was putting people on the camera who’d had virtually no fight practice.
Byron Mann - who played Ryu - recalls the impact of this approach:
We had our trainer, Benny, but he didn’t know what video game fighting actually was – it was all new to him,” he says. “We only found out midway through the shoot that different characters have different styles. Somebody said: ‘Wait a minute, why is everyone fighting in the same way?’
Then one day I was having lunch, and an assistant director came over to me and said: ‘Hey, are you ready for your knife fight?’ I said: ‘What are you talking about? I don’t know anything about it.’ I went to one of the Thai extras, a stunt guy, and asked him if he could help. On the spot, he taught me what he knew – and that’s what you see in the movie. And it was a bladed sword, it wasn’t plastic. I could have injured myself and others.
As if this wasn't enough, things were hotting up in Thailand, where large portions of the movie were being filmed. Keith Heygate, the first assistant director on the second unit, recalls:
There was talk of a possible coup, so the military closed all the roads down. We needed to get the cast, the crew and all this equipment to different locations, so we had to travel by high-speed boats down the khlongs [canals] at 1am in the morning. This went on for 10 days, and these boats kicked up a lot of water, so, by the time we got to the location, the cast and crew were all sodden. Van Damme hated that.
Van Damme was the world's biggest movie star at the time, yet his antics on set caused much chaos - much of which had to do with his drug habit, as de Souza explains:
I couldn’t talk about it at the time, but I can now: Jean-Claude was coked out of his mind. The studio had hired a wrangler to take care of him, but unfortunately the wrangler himself was a bad influence. Jean-Claude was calling in sick so much I had to keep looking through the script to find something else to film; I couldn’t just sit around for hours waiting for him. On two occasions, the producers allowed him to go to Hong Kong, and both occasions he came back late – on Mondays he just wasn’t there at all.
While Van Damme was proving hard to control, other members of the cast - who were willing to work as hard as possible - found the script and setting so incomprehensible that they had no choice but to phone in their performances. Roshan Seth, who played Dhalsim, said:
I didn’t know the character; I didn’t know the video game; I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was supposed to be a mad scientist. I thought: What sort of science am I supposed to be doing and what am I mad about?’ There’s a scene where my character has to pull out his hair in anger – they spent all day fitting me with a skull cap so I could literally pull my hair out. I just stopped thinking – they just told me what to do and I followed instructions.
Following reshoots back in North America and numerous edits to ensure that all-important PG-13 rating, Street Fighter finally limped into cinemas in 1994 - where it made over $100 million on a $35 million budget. It may not have been a hit with hardcore fans of the video game, but it did the business by getting bums on seats.
You can tell de Souza is secretly proud of it, too:
Jean Claude made two films that earned $100m: Timecop and this one. It was extremely profitable for the studio – it cost $33m and made $105m, so it was good for everybody. People say it’s so dimwitted it’s funny, but we knew it was funny. How can you see that movie and think it’s funny by accident?
Let us know your thoughts on this piece and the movie itself by posting a comment below.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Wed 18th July, 2018.
Not even 'so bad, it's good'. Bloody awful film, and makes the two Mortal Kombat movies look like Citizen Kane.
For many people the day they saw Street Fighter for the first time was one of the most memorable days in their lives.
But for me it was Tuesday.
Meh, I liked it for an action film in the early 90s. It's not on Netflix, though. But MK is.
It's so fun to watch! One of my favorite movies who cares if everyone else says otherwise!
Worse vidéo game inspired movie... ahum Mario bros ahum...
I'm relatively certain Van Damme has never been the world's biggest movie star.
This and Super Mario Bros. we're still better than Double Dragon imo but yeah it's such a bad movie. I found myself so many times saying "why do they have so and so doing that??" Ryu and Ken were such a disgrace lol. Deejay was a camera man? Guile with a French accent, and so on. Good times 93 and 94
I acknowledge it's not a good film, but it is enjoyable. Its connection to the games is in name only though.
Generally like this film, Zangief is comedy gold.
This is probably one of my top 10 guilty pleasure movies. I don't care what critics or "superfans" say. I love this movie and could probably be happy watching it once a week. Its just so fun!
Try to quote Bison lines without cracking up, I dare you. 😁
Other perfectly good videogame movies:
Street Fighter Assassin's Fist-the serious SF movie you're looking for
Mortal Kombat-enjoyable adaptation of the first game. Cheesy, but good.
Super Mario Bros: a mess, but still entertaining
Resident Evil-almost scary, good action
Resident Evil Apocalypse-funnier, even better action.
Silent Hill-scary, plot filled, good horror.
Bonus: Legend of Link-will have you bursting with laughter. Find it on youtube by dannysammonsjr.
I actually really like the video game based on this movie
@eltomo he’s best line in the film
“Quick, change the channel”
@chiptoon Yeah, they screwed that bit up. If you read the actual article from the Guardian, it says "biggest action movie actor in the world", at the time, which he was, for quite a while.
Bloodsport (1988) was is best movie IMO (And that was a real Street Fighter-like movie).
A timeless classic
I always liked the fact that they released a game that was based on a movie that was based on a game. That was even weirder than the movie.
@gurtifus Yep, as far as hardcore fighting movies go, it was probably his best. His acting was most definitely the worst in that movie, though. It has gotten a little bit better, over the years...
@BigKing Street Fighter-ception...
@BigKing Even more incredible is that the home release was a different game than what was released in the arcade.
The arcade version had it's own warped engine (Air hurricane kick into air shoryuken). For the home ports, The SSFIIX engine was used with overlayed digitized images.
As terrible as the movie might be, the whole end product is just a fascinating experience.
@Alikan "Street Fighter Assassin's Fist-the serious SF movie you're looking for"
Damn right! It's the best SF inspired movie, and you can't call yourself a true Street Fighter fan if you haven' seen it. Watch it now!
For all the things this movie can be remembered as, I still think it's most memorable as "Raul Julia's last role." It makes it memorable in a much less campy way that he was in it at all.
IIRC, he's probably the only one among the cast that actually "got" the role, which is probably why he has probably the campiest performance of everyone. While not an SF player himself, his kids were majorly into SF (hey, it was the 90's) which is why he took the role (which was certainly about 20 notches below his stature at that point), both because the shoot locations involved a lot of time close to home to spend with his kids, and for the cool experience of their father being a character from their game. But being familiar with it at home meant he was more familiar with the actual Capcom world more than probably everyone on the set. So he took the role before he found out about the illness...it made a great last role all the way around.
@Alikan For Mortal Kombat you need to add "utterly incredible theme song"!
'Jean-Claude was coked out of his mind'... I'm sorry but that is hilarious lol awesome guilty pleasure film, I own it on VHS and dvd
I liked all the cheesy 90's movies like that one. I went to theater and saw Mortal Kombat and Tomb Raider for video game movies back then. I had fun with each as bad as they were.
I absolute love Street Fighter The Movie. Raul Julia's performance is so over the top and it works so well. Like fine wine surrounded by so many flavors of cheese. Fun fact, I saw it in Spanish and it's even better. I still can't explain why but it is.
@Anti-Matter Classic. I haven't seen this in years. Jackie dressed up as Chun Li is hot.
@chiptoon He was pretty up there in the early to mid 90's. Then things started going downhill. Remember the movie he did with Dennis Rodman? I member.
The Bison/Chun-li "Tuesday" scene is freaking gold
@gurtifus Lionheart was a better Street Fighter movie than Bloodsport.
@Painkiller_Mike I remember stumbling across the scene during an IT class and a friend went "that chicks hot!" he was rather... conflicted when I said it was Chan.
@LandOfZeldtir yeah, as a 7 year old in a theater with a nice sound system, that song gets you ready for an incredible movie. Still works with 30 year old me too.😆
@abe_hikura That is too funny.
After Die Hard,Steven de Souza's film career hit something of a downward spiral but at least he had fun with it.
Back then really excited about the movie. When I saw it really disappointing for a boy who spent hours in fronts of an arcade machine playing the game. But yes it is a classic and I should watch it again.
@1UP_MARIO "You got paid?!"
I actually loved this movie for what it was, kinda like the Mario Bros movie. And it’s still in my beloved collection of SF movies.
At least you can have fun with the Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros. movie.
On the other hand, the Tekken and Dragon Ball movies were boring and painful.
They should have named it Fighting Street : The Movie
Though I never liked the movie I did like the game that is based on the movie which Capcom stupidly did not include in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. Would had make for a good extra just for laughs.
Capcom should include the Street Fighter parody from City Hunter movie with Jackie Chan.... as Chun Li in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary. 5 minutes of Hillarious Street Fighter parody.
@gurtifus Bloodsport always felt more Mortal Kombat than Streetfighter to me what what with people getting finished off and MK being ‘inspired’ by Frank Dux’ costume for Johnny Cage.
@Valken1979 lol, yes really. It's mostly nostalgia but I played it A lot as a kid .
There is a 7pm Curfew!
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