Judge David Johnson once took a Sonic Boom square in the face, but he recovered and countered with a well-placed Spinning Bird Kick. Man, you should have been there.
Sweet Dragon Uppercut! Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie has arrived with the fury of a thousand Yoga Noogies! Are you man enough?!?
Facts of the Case
Okay, follow me here if you can. The fearful tyrant M. Bison, wielder of unfathomable "psycho" power, has dedicated his shadowy, Thailand-based criminal organization to the usurping of the world's laws, and the enrichment of his own pockets. Flanked by his dreaded enforcers, Vega, the French acrobat, Balrog, the disgraced former boxer, and Sagat, a ferocious Muay Thai warrior, Bison rules through fear and firepower. His latest scheme involved kidnapping the world's greatest fighters and brainwashing them into mindless assassins. Top on his list: Ryu, rumored to be the world's greatest fighter.
But Ryu is a wanderer; jumping from fight to fight and helping little Indian girls buy milk for their parents. So Bison turns his attention to Ryu's friend and rival, Ken Masters, the hotshot fighter from Seattle. And when Interpol and American forces, led by Chun Li and Guile, realize what Bison's plan is, the race is on to find Ryu.
Eventually, the major players will connect on a stormy, wind-swept plateau, where friend will battle friend, vengeance will be sought, and an epic battle between good and evil and cheesy dialogue will be waged.
I hesitate to confess this in a public forum, but the only thing I remember about this 1994 release was Chun Li's shower scene. And I think, back then, all you got was her soapy, anime backside. So to answer the first burning question to Street Fighter fanboys, yes, this uncut DVD version includes Chun Li in all her 2-D, Double-D wonder.
That business aside, this movie is great fun. Any self-respecting video game fan should love Street Fighter II and any self-respecting Street Fighter II fan should spend some time with this fine animated adaptation. Compared to the live-action Jean-Claude Van Damme horror, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is high art and a profound mismatch, like a Tiger Uppercut used on a 4-year-old. And this movie doesn't even make sense!
That's both a commentary on the moronic nature of Street Fighter and the kick-assness of The Animated Movie. While not a flawless piece of entertainment (see: sense, this-movie-doesn't-even-make), SFII:TAM succeeds in balancing the non-existence of the video game's plot (a bunch of weird-looking guys throwing fireballs at each other) with an engaging feature-length production. The story of the movie is loose enough to make room for loads of fights, and for the animators to shove in as many characters from the game as possible. In fact, I think all of them made the cut, including late add-ons Cammy, T-Hawk, Fei Long, and Dee Jay.
So if you've been looking forward to seeing Zangief delivering the Spinning Piledriver to some poor sucker or watching the Hundred Hand Slap unleashed, your wish is granted. The animators make sure everyone does their thing in this film, so even if you're a Blanka fan (for whatever reason) you can watch him light it up with his cheap-ass bio-electricity.
The main protagonists are Ken and Ryu, with Chun Li and Guile as the strong supporters. The film spends much time developing Ken and Ryu's relationship, and does so well, weaving in flashbacks from their training. The two are set up as equals, forecasting the inevitable showdown between the two, which is handled effectively enough, however insane it might be (hint: one of them is abducted and subjected to mind-altering "psycho" energy). The weirdo story never drags on too long, and any exposition is almost always interrupted by enjoyable, kinetic fight scenes, set to pounding KMFDM music. The final 20 minutes are pretty much consumed with incessant brawling, which is great fun, and, best of all, takes the attention away from some truly dopey lines (M. Bison: "You worthless piece of excrement!")
Manga Video has done a nice job with this disc. It's dual-sided, with the English subtitled Japanese version on one side and the UK version on the other. The Japanese cut is two minutes longer. Video quality (1.78:1 anamorphic) is strong, though the animation is softer and not as vibrant as I would have liked. The 5.1 surround is loud and aggressive and will surely piss off your condo neighbors. Limited extras, unfortunately: some text-based player profiles, a comic book, and trailers.
Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is fun, fast-moving, ear-pounding anime. While it's aimed at fans, I'm not ready to rule it out as a general crowd-pleaser. A word of caution: between Chun Li's hooters and some moderate bloodshed, this isn't a cartoon for the kids.
Not guilty! Now go home and be a family man!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Manga Video
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