Review: Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (hopefully free from M. Bison’s brainwashing!)

When I first started Tsundere Britannica, I stated that my intention was to write reviews and features of anime, manga and video games. So I decided that there was only one logical option for the first ever review – something that mixed those areas together! While I was at the London MCM Comic Con back in May, I picked up a copy of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie on blu-ray, which had recently been re-released by Kazé (and distributed by Manga Entertainment). I feel bad that I hadn’t seen this movie until this latest release, as I have seen many refer to it as one of the best game-to-film adaptations so far and certainly, the best Street Fighter movie adaptation. I think the reason is most likely because, I was only two years old when this film first came out and admittedly, the first Street Fighter game I played was Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition for the Nintendo 3DS.  However, the other day I managed to fix that blunder, as I finally had a chance to watch the movie and I thought, as it’s an anime movie based on a video game, it was the perfect fit to get things going.

Street Fighter II

Title: Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie

Distributor: Manga Entertainment UK, on behalf of Kazé.

Format: Blu-ray Movie (Run Time: 71 Minutes).

Languages: Japanese with English Subtitles (Original), English, French.

Year of Release: 2013 (Original Release: 1994).

Certificate Rating: 15

Usually, I am the kind of person who likes to watch films where I can emotionally invest in the characters to the point that I am reduced to both a sobbing mess on the floor, as well as a grinning idiot (depending on the series). However desirable complex characters and story lines are though, there is always a need for something more light – and I don’t mean that in the fluffy, inoffensive K-ON! sense, I mean it in the “Doesn’t have too much to think about, but just sit back and enjoy the ride” sense that many action films have. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is a lot like a typical action movie in that sense – and that’s not a bad thing at all.

The story of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is centred around M. Bison, the head of a terrorist organisation called “Shadaloo”. M. Bison and Shadaloo plan on seeking out individuals they deem to be strong and brainwash them into carrying out terrorist activities – such as when, in an opening scene, MI6 agent Cammy is brainwashed into breaking the neck of the UK’s Minister of Justice. For the majority of the film though, M. Bison’s attention is focused on Ryu, a man known for defeating Muay Thai Champion-turned Shadaloo henchman Sagat in a fight.

I saw the story centres on M. Bison as opposed to a main good character like Ryu, because as you’d expect from a threat as huge as M. Bison, there are numerous people out for his head. Part of the story focuses on Ryu and his travels across the world and Ryu’s former training partner Ken Masters, who is now a legitimate fighter, as the two often think back to their time training together, despite the distances now between them. The other part of the story focuses on Interpol Agent Chun-Li, who is investigating Shadaloo and eventually gains the co-operation of the initially reluctant Captain Guile of the U.S. Military. As you can expect, with Chun-Li and Guile chasing after M. Bison and M. Bison chasing after Ryu, their paths do eventually collide.

What I found notable about this movie, where two of the central characters – Chun-Li and M. Bison. Ryu is more of a plot device than a character in that the film revolves around him, yet he doesn’t really say or do much. Ken is in an ultimate bromance with Ryu, being miles away and years later, still thinking of him. Guile is your typical blond-haired, American action hero and while every character from the game makes an appearance, the majority of them only appear very briefly. M. Bison however, has to be one of the most intimidating villains I have encountered in film – like the majority of the characters, he is beefy. However, M. Bison’s posture and the way how he always looks tense when he walks brings about a feeling that he is always on guard, ready to strike at any time. M. Bison’s vocal performances in both the Japanese and the English versions give him a powerful sense of authority too, which all adds together to be make a very overpowering, intimidating antagonist.

In regards to Chun-Li, the First Lady of Fighting Games, I felt that her character was the most three dimensional of all the characters in this film. She has a strict, no-nonsense attitude when it comes to work – even criticising Guile for putting his personal want to avenge his friend over his duty to capture M. Bison, despite her father having been killed by M. Bison. However, she also shows a playful, mischievous side, when she easily proves her skills to Guile when persuading him to co-operate with her and again at the end of the film (which I won’t mention due to spoilers, but it does result in a little playful rough-housing from Guile). Being the first female character in a fighting game, I imagine that it was essential to paint Chin-Li as a competent fighter and not a damsel in distress. If that was indeed the intention, then her fight scene with Vega got that point across perfectly. Her fight with Vega was probably my favourite in the entire film – it was savage and unpredictable. As soon as Guile realised something was amiss, he charged over to Chun-Li, obviously expecting to have to burst the door down and save her – except by the time he arrived, the fight was over. It was fortunate that Guile arrived when he did, but the fact that Chun-Li managed to win the fight by herself, then have Guile bursting in…was a pretty good slap in the face for people who might have held that image of women only being damsels-in-distress in films like these.

Can we also talk about how unlucky that one girl in Calcutta is in the movie? First Ryu knocks over the water she bought for her ill mum (which was changed to “milk” in the dub. I guess it’s because it didn’t really look like water) and then she got knocked over in the street and had to go to hospital.

It’s hard to really talk about this film in terms of story, because what there is merely act as threads connecting the numerous muscular characters character to duke it out. It’s a good thing then, that the choreography of the fights is really well done. The moves and combos characters can use in the games are quite cleverly copied into fight scenes in a way that seems entirely natural, instead of the director thinking “Okay, they need to use [Move] from the game!” (which is probably how it went).  In terms of picture quality, you would expect that a blu-ray would look really nice. This movie is almost 20 years old, yet at times it looks no different than recent productions in terms of colour, brightness and sharpness.

Initially, I watched this film in Japanese with subtitles, but I did watch the English dub afterwards. For reference, I hear that there was a dub made in the 1990s that featured a lot of profanity – the English audio track on this release is not that track (which is odd, because all of the blood and nudity is intact with a 15 certificate. So I guess this isn’t really an “uncensored” release is it?). Personally, I prefer the original Japanese – the script feels more natural and the while the dub script is mostly faithful, there are a few one-liners that made me cringe. Also,  it feels weird to hear someone as intimidating looking as M. Bison say things like “beat the crap out of” (although the dub does win credit for pointing out that Guile’s hair looks like a brush).

In terms of extras, this release from Kazé has none – the menu is simply whether you want to watch the film in Japanese with locked subtitles, English, or select individual Chapters. However, it is presented in a red blu-ray case instead of the standard blue, which is a nice touch. I’m not really sure what extras they could have included though, other than trailers of Kazé’s other upcoming releases (which are featured after selecting the language option – I thought forced ads was left behind when we moved on from VHS?!).

Anyways, I think I have said just about as much as I could about this release, but before I leave things to Brit-tan, let me just explain her rating scale:

Baka! is given to pieces rated between 0-4. Avoid these.

I-it’s not like I like you or anything… is given for pieces rated between 5-7. They’re good, worth a watch, but not really amazing.

Sugoi! means that not even Brit-tan can contain her excitement for it and is for things rated between 8-10.

Anyway, onto Brit-tan:

I-it's not like I want to r-review this or anything...

I-it’s not like I like you or anything…

But then, I did catch Brit-tan like this later on:

HNI_0005

Brit-tan and I sat down and agreed that Kazé’s blu-ray release of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie deserves a 7/10. What did you personally think of this movie and this release?

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One thought on “Review: Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (hopefully free from M. Bison’s brainwashing!)

  1. Kashi says:

    Gotta love Brit-tan! 😀

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