Friday, March 6, 2009

The Street Fighter Omnibus: IN ONE POST!!

Greetings, movie watchers and Sentinel fans alike, it’s your favorite guest reviewer Alan Trehern here with what I might call the greatest omnibus to fit into one short post. Why is this post so short yet so full of information? Because I wrote it…a-duh! In any case, in the recent months, I have studied the mythos and characters of the Street Fighter world, from animated GIFs to the feature length Van Damme film. The structure of these films is so incongruent and sporadic that it is near impossible to set a certain, continuous storyline for any of the events or characters that occur within this universe. And that is why I think it has the greatest potential as a series. So let us examine (with the help of my socially oblivious associate Ken Masters) the myriad of films dedicated to these two-dimensional troopers and see if we can’t get some answers.

Street Fighter: The Movie
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia and nameless others, SFTM is set in the Eastern Asian country of Shadaloo where tyrannical leader General M. Bison has taken over, and the Allied countries of the world fight against his domination. When I was a kid, Street Fighter was just another one of those games that I played people against and always got my ass kicked, so I couldn’t recognize the names or looks of many of the characters at the time. However, Van Damme was outrageously overdramatic as Colonel Guile (the Allied leader), Julia pulled together a pretty humorous baddie (considering the man had stomach cancer during production), and the ridiculous amount of characters and personalities was to my liking. Overall, the movie served its purpose of entertaining me even though in today’s terms it is considered crap. It even ranked so high that I bought the damn film for $2! What an impression!

Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie
Note: This movie has no connection to the previously mentioned film. It is based solely on the video game.

This was a Japanese film that I immediately checked out after seeing SFTM, hoping it would prove as more research into the characters and continuity that I so desperately pined to learn. I haven’t seen my share of Japanimated films, but I do know the style and English-dub outcome many of them have. Before I go any further, the animation was dead on. The shadows, the character look and the color showed something that I try to achieve as an artist everyday. The storyline, however, was quite insubstantial and felt as if the movie started a couple of scenes in. Were we already suppose to know who these characters are and why they act the way they do? What is Bison trying to achieve in this film? Is it world domination, are just to dick around? This film fit that Japanimated genre of corniness, nonsense dubbing and just plain bizarre Asian stuff.

The history behind Ken and Ryu was quite interesting even though the storyline was not. In SFTM, Ken and Ryu are just some street hoodlums who don’t really have any allegiances to country or value. In SF2:TAM, they are trained warriors from the same sensei, and while Ken Westernizes himself and grows arrogant, Ryu tends to be more isolated and introspective. While Bison uses Evil Ken to fight a more powerful Ryu, the two manage to team up against the forces of evil and win the day. But the last scene of the film is of Bison trying to run over a hitch-hiking Ryu with a semi-truck…

Street Fighter Alpha
I can only assume that this Japanimated film is a sequel to SF2:TAM only because of the reference they make to Ryu beating Sagat (this occurs in the opening scene of SF2:TAM). I just finished this film today, and though it started out rough, it managed to comeback and get me into the storyline in the end. As far as animation goes, it wasn’t as tough and jagged as SF2:TAM; instead, it had a lighter, aura-like feel to it, with the characters looking more feminine than fighter. And there aren’t as many characters featured, since Ken, Ryu and Chun-Li are the only main characters, which may improve the film slightly. There are numerous reflective scenes, where the landscape is panned and the characters think about there next action. Ryu’s favorite spots are on the rooftops, standing ankle deep in the ocean, walking down the street, you name it.

However, the fight scenes were sufficient. The storyline involved Ryu’s little brother and Ken coming to Japan for a tournament. During this time, though, Ryu feels an evil temptation that pushes him to use the evil (or dark side) of his training (called the Dark Hodem). I can only assume that he has become so skilled and attuned as a fighter that he now must choose to use this ultimate power for good or evil. These temptations result in Ryu becoming uncontrollable during a fight, sometimes lashing out with huge balls of energy that take down vast sects of the city.

You don’t really find out the true point of the story until the end where the true evil presence is revealed as a madman absorbing fighter power…blah blah blah…Ryu beats him. It doesn’t matter what I say about this film, none of you are going to watch it.

Street Fighter: The Rise of Chun-Li
Speaking of movies you’ll never see, the newest installment of the series was recently released, and although I haven’t seen it, I can’t say I want to. I was really excited leading up to release date, but that was based on not having watched a trailer, any footage, synopsis of story, anything really. After seeing one scene, I realized the producers tried to Nolan-ize the franchise by making it look like these characters could really exist. You’ve seriously had like 15 years to come up with a sequel to SF:TM and you come out with some relevant, realistic garbage?? Shame!

Street Fighter vs. Marvel: The Movie
As bad as SF:TRCL probably is, let us switch to the greatest Street Fighter movie that was, is and ever will be. This movie takes all the best parts of this scattered continuity and combines it into one brilliant, commanding tale that will shock and awe the public for decades to come. Ken is a badass, Bison is insanely tyrannical, minor characters are seen but not heard and better yet…The Marvel universe steps in!

As far as storyline goes, I can’t help but say it’s pretty damn solid. Picking up where SFTM left off, SFVMTM takes the greatness that movie had and kicks it up to 11! I mean multiversal storylines are hard to figure out, but keeping it at two parallel worlds really makes it come on strong. It even leaves you hanging and hoping that a sequel is in the works. Although the language is ridiculously uncalled for, the fight scenes are fluid and action packed and the special effects are years, nay, decades ahead of its time.

Character development is one of the strongest aspects of this film, even though there are over 26 defined and well-thought out personalities making an appearance. Just when you think the cast list is set, another fair-weathered hero comes out of left field, keeping the audience on the edge of their seat and their eyes on the screen. Very few produced works these days can even come close to that kind of cinematic entertainment.

Regrettably, now that I have written the entire omnibus on Street Fighter, I feel I must retire from the SF universe never to dabble my pen in its martial artistic ink ever again. After researching and learning all that I feel I need to know about these characters and events, and seeing their universe perfectly portrayed in SFVMTM, this omnibus concludes the Street Fighter legacy I explored. But if sometime in your life, you crave for Eastern adventure, martial artists and “Van Dammage”, then check out some of the selections above. As for me, I’m off to delve into another unknown aspect of pop-culture…

Shōryūken, travelers, wherever you are...

1 comment:

Ben Pearson said...

Aside from being riddled with misspellings, Alan, this is as in-depth an omnibus as I've come to expect from you. Well done.