May 3, 2020

Street Fighter: The Guilty Pleasure From The 90’s

Street Fighter

Some might call 1994’s Street Fighter, a guilty pleasure. Indeed for some, it can be. But let us break down the term itself. What does guilty pleasure mean?

Well, Wikipedia states that guilty pleasure is something, such as a film, a television program, or a piece of music that one enjoys. Despite, understanding that it is not generally held in very high regard. Think Showgirls, The Room or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

And some might even call Keeping up with the Kardashians a guilty pleasure. Now, I’m not a Reality TV fan, but for me, Street Fighter is the pinnacle of a guilty pleasure. Add Super Mario Bros and Mortal Kombat, and you’ve got yourself a decent 90’s guilty pleasure list.

However, the term implies that we must feel guilt as we watch these awful movies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. Street Fighter and the other bad movies from that era are part of my fondest childhood memories. I remember my older cousin renting Street Fighter on a crappy VHS (somewhere in the late ’90s), and I also remember having a blast while watching it.

Ah, good times.

A word or two about the Street Fighter game

First of all, Street fighter debuted in 1987, as an arcade game, but later on, Street Fighter was ported to many popular home computer systems, like the PC. Designed by Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto (at Capcom), it didn’t achieve the success of the successor (Street Fighter II). However, it was a hit among the fans nonetheless.

Certainly, the gameplay is a rather simple one to follow. The player competes in a series of one-on-one matches against various opponents. Or he must compete in a single match against another additional player. So, each match consists of three rounds and there must be knocked out in less than 30 seconds.

Even more, the player must win two of those three rounds in order to defeat the opponent. Cool right? I never played this game on a PC, but I vividly remember spending my „hard-earned“ pocket money on very old arcades, just a block from our place.

Man, the ’90s rocked!

And yes. Seems like we’ll be seeing more video game adaptations in the following months and years. There’s the upcoming Monster Hunter movie. Mortal Kombat remake is in Hollywood’s pipeline and of course the Uncharted adaptation. Uncharted is set for the summer 2021 premiere indeed.

But for now, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remind ourselves of Street Fighter.

Street Fighter

Street Fighter: The movie

Starring the 90’s hot-shot Jean-Claude Van Damme as Colonel Guile and the late Raul Julia in the role of Bison. Likewise, Kylie Minogue is in Street Fighter for some reason, but I’ll get to her in a minute.

Now, let me preface this part by saying that (understandably) my cousin was a Van Damme fan, while I was a huge Raul Julia’s fan. So, it was a win-win for both of us.

I loved Julia in Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Morning After, Tequila Sunrise. But of course, no one is a better Gomez Addams than Raul Julia. To this very day, The Addams Family movies are my favorite pieces of work form Raul Julia. So, naturally, I thought Street Fighter would be a great performance from him.

And boy was I right. You can say what you want about the other actors, and even about the movie as a whole. But no one in their right mind would dare to criticize Raul Julia’s performance in Street Fighter.

Personally, I thought that he brought so much camp, joy, and almost a Shakespearian quality in the role of Bison. He was a classically trained actor, so it makes sense. Besides, it was his brilliant acting that made the movie work.

He made Bison into one of the greatest villains ever, and I’ll be eternally grateful that he took this role. Not to mention that this was Raul Julia’s last role, as he was sick during the production. But much like the pro that he was, he was stoic and professional until the very end.

He even performed the action scenes and grueling fights all by himself. A true champ indeed.

Street Fighter Bison

Van Damme, Raul Julia and Kylie Minogue

On the other hand, do you know why Van Damme and Raul Julia took these roles? Because their kids were huge fans of the Street Fighter game. Furthermore, did you know that Capcom held the cast and crew on a very short leash? Indeed. Because Capcom provided most of the film’s budget, the screenwriter wrote the initial draft of the script overnight. 

However, if there was a thorn in the movie’s eye was the terrible choice of casting Kylie Minogue in the role of Cammy. More like miscasting but, oh well. However, it was much later that I actually found out more about Kylie Minogue. You know, back in the early 90’s she wasn’t the mega-pop sensation that she is today.

Also, I never realized that she attempted to build a film career. Personally, I’m actually glad she focused more on her music career, because her acting is terrible. And Street Fighter is one of the best proofs of that.

What makes Street Fighter a guilty pleasure?

Looking back, I realize that it’s not the best video game adaptation. I guess, the ’90s were experimental phase for that, and most of the experiments failed spectacularly.

But what Street Fighter (and so many other 90’s video game adaptations) lacked in quality, they made up in other areas. Ingenuity, fun, camp, silliness and not taking itself too seriously. Indeed they also had more heart and soul put into them than most of today’s movies. 

Besides, Street Fighter was made by a guy who excelled in action. Steven E. de Souza wrote 48 Hrs, Die Hard, Commando, Judge Dredd, Beverly Hills Cop III, Kick Off, The Running Man, and Lara Croft. This is a man who knows what he’s doing.

Maybe it’s nostalgia. Or maybe because I adore Raul Julia so much that I don’t mind the low quality of this movie. It still holds a special place in my heart, and it will forever be my guilty pleasure.

Your thoughts

What are your guilty pleasures? Any thoughts on the Street Fighter video game? And do you like the movie too? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

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