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In the remote southeast-Asian country of Shadaloo, the power-hungry General M. Bison (Raul Julia) is trying to usurp power and take over first the country, then the world ("OF COURSE!!!"). To fund his megalomaniacal schemes, he's captured several dozen relief workers (who are totally not from the Red Cross), and is holding them hostage for the sum of twenty billion US dollars. It is up to the forces of the Allied Nations, led by Col. William F. Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme), to get in there, take out Bison, and rescue the hostages. And they have three days to do so before hostages start dying. His immediate subordinates include Lieutenant Cammy (Kylie Minogue) and Sergeant T. Hawk (Gregg Rainwater).
Ace reporter Chun-Li Xiang (Ming-Na), joined by former champion boxer Balrog (Grand L. Bush) and sumotori E. Honda (Peter Navy Tuiasosopo) are sucked into the action, while travelling con-men Ryu and Ken (played respectively by Byron Mann and Damian Chapa) conduct shady business deals with local Muay Thai legend Viktor Sagat (Wes Studi). They, along with the cage fighter Vega (Jay Tavare) are thrown in jail. Meanwhile, Guile's old buddy Carlos "Charlie" Blanka (Robert Mammone) is used in Dr. Dhalsim's (Roshan Seth) Super Soldier project, to turn him into a green-skinned, super powerful monstrosity. Eventually, all parties involved converge on Bison's base for the epic final showdown.
If you're even slightly familiar with the Street Fighter storyline (what little it has, anyway), you'll notice something seems a little... well, off.
The producers had some strange ideas about how to work the complex characters and storylines into the live-action production. They didn't get a lot of them right, to say the least. The film is sometimes lucky enough to go in the So Bad It's Good category due to the late Raul Julia's portrayal of M. Bison, who took the job knowing he was dying of stomach cancer and let his children pick out which movie would be his last, and apparently wanted to go out on a loud note for his final performance. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who don't think this was enough to save the movie and continue to insist it's so bad, it's just bad. Considering all the memes that stemmed from it, it's most likely a Cult Classic.
Aspects of the movie were expanded on in the cartoon Street Fighter, which came out shortly after the film.
It's also been shown on G4's "Movies That Don't Suck" block, while Chris Gore makes snide remarks over the end credits.
Fifteen years would pass before another live-action Street Fighter film would be made. What we got was an In-Name-Only Continuity Reboot called Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It was both a critical and commercial failure.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: After Chun-Li explains how Bison's forces attacked her village and killed her father, Bison responds with this.
- Affably Evil: Bison, Dee Jay and Zangief.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Bison really wishes that Guile was alive... so that he could snap his spine in half.
M. Bison: "Ah, the road not taken..."
- Art Imitates Art: M. Bison's Rearing Horse painting is just Napoleon Crossing the Alps after a switcheroo
- Banana Republic: Shadaloo.
- Berserk Button: Openly questioning M. Bison's sanity is definitely not recommended for anyone keen on staying alive and healthy. He plans to sic Blanka on the kidnapped AN workers simply because they called him "mad".
- Big Bad: M. Bison, unsurprisingly.
- Big No: One of the moments where Bison really snaps is when he gets a look at Dhalsim's "cerebral programming" that gave Blanka the capacity to choose a different path, sees innocent scenes of peace and happiness instead of war, and punches the screen while screaming "NOOOOO!!!" Bison is... kinda messed up.
- Blunt Yes:
Bison: "You dare to interfere?"
- Bollywood Nerd: Dr. Dhalsim.
- Brand X: The A.N., analogous to the United Nations.
- According to the director's commentary, the U.N. threatened to sue the pants off the filmmakers if they portrayed them.
- Calling Your Attacks:
Cammy: "THRUST KICK!"
- Canon Foreigner: Captain Sawada, who substitutes for Fei-Long from the games. He only appeared as a playable character in the two games based on the movies.
- Chewing the Scenery:
- Colonel Badass: Guile.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: The A.N. Soldiers are clad in blue, while the Bison Troopers sport red.
- Composite Character: Carlos "Charlie" Blanka.
- Crazy Prepared: Bison has a life support system (CPR, defibrillator, adrenaline injection) built into his uniform. It comes in handy after Guile electrocutes him by kicking him into a batch of hard drives.
- Creator Cameo: Capcom's CEO at the time (Kenzo Tsujimoto) makes a cameo appearance during Guile's speech near the end (he's the stout middle-aged Japanese guy who appears prominently in a few shots).
- Deadpan Snarker: Dee Jay, oddly enough.
- Death by Irony: Bison kills the captured A.N. soldiers in this manner.
Bison: "You came from across the world to fight me, soldier. Now's your chance."
- Bison also attempts to kill the hostages in this manner by setting Blanka loose on them.
Bison: "Your masters at the A.N. call me a wild beast. So be it. You do not deserve the martial dignity of a firing squad. You shall be killed by a wild beast!"
- Demoted to Extra: Cammy, T. Hawk and Captain Sawada have very little screen-time.
- The Ditz: M. Bison and his lackeys realize they're watching a live video of a explosive-laden truck that's about to crash into the building they're currently standing inside of. Zangief's response? "Quick! Change the channel!".
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: Bison does this when Guile taunts him on live TV.
- Dumb Muscle: The Dirty Communist Zangief, to the point where he actually thought that Bison's group were the good guys, fighting against the evil, oppressive A.N. - despite the fact that he knew Bison had taken hostages and was in the middle of ransoming them.
- And of course, the scene with the TV.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Of the real-life kind. This was Raul Julia's last-ever film role before he tragically succumbed to stomach cancer - and boy, did he go out in style...
- Egopolis: Bisonopolis.
- Evil Is Hammy: "OF COURSE!"
- Face Death with Dignity: Bison is willing to do this and expects Dee Jay to do the same, but Dee Jay isn't so enthusiastic about it.
- Faking the Dead: Guile's death was staged so that Ken and Ryu could gain acceptance with Sagat's gang and infiltrate Shadaloo.
- Faux Action Girl: Bison accuses Chun-Li of being this. He founds out the hard way that she's anything but.
- Five-Bad Band: Shadaloo
- Five-Man Band: The A.N. Forces
- Global Currency: Supplies the page quote. In more detail, M. Bison is revealed to already deal in "Bison Dollars", which, he says with a confident smile and such a crazy look in his eyes that he clearly thinks it may as well have already happened, will be made to be worth five British pounds after he kidnaps the Queen of England.
- Gloved Fist of Doom:
- A God Am I: Guess who.
Bison: "Something wrong, Colonel? You come here prepared to fight a madman, and instead you found A GOD?!" [...] "You still refuse to ACCEPT... my godhood? KEEP your own God! In fact, this might be a good time to PRAY to him! For I beheld Satan as he FELL FROM HEAVEN! LIKE LIIIIIIGHTNIIIIIING!!!"
- Handy Cuffs: Chun-Li has her hands bound in front of her. It takes her about two seconds to snap the leather, leaving her with spiked wrist guards and Bison's ass to kick.
- Heel Face Turn: Zangief at the end, after Dee Jay brags directly to his face about how he happily sided with M. Bison due to the latter promising him a massive fortune.
- Heel Realization: Zangief thought he was fighting for the good guys. As soon as he gets the alignments straightened out, he proceeds to help the A.N. troops.
- Hit You So Hard Your X Will Feel It:
Guile:: I'm gonna get on my boat, and I'm going up that river, and I'm going to kick that son of a bitch Bison's ass so hard that the next Bison wannabe is going to feel it!
- Hypocritical Humor: Chun-Li teases Cammy about her change in hairstyle toward the end of the movie, which Cammy responds with "Look who's talking!" Chun-Li looks up at her hairstyle and wordlessly concedes that Cammy is right.
- Ignored Enemy: Ryu and Ken ignore their captors and have a brief fistfight in the prison camp, but it's a ruse to grab the keys to the lock.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Notably averted in the scene when Sagat is making his weapons deal with Bison, everybody is keeping their fingers off the triggers and appears to be pointing the weapons away from each other (though of course, they are in a large room and it's unclear if they are pointing the weapons at anybody else.)
- It Got Worse: This line is actually used by Ken when he and Ryu are lamenting their situation in Sagat's arms market, saying it can't possibly get any worse, right before realizing they're in the middle of a stand off between Bison's mooks and Sagat's mooks.
- Kaiju: The battle between E. Honda and Zangief in the model of Bisonopolis looks like a Kaiju battle when viewed through a security camera.
- Large Ham: Raul Julia's version of Bison is even more fondly remembered than Norio Wakamoto's portrayals.
Cracked: "Raul Julia acted like his whole movie was a pantomime and displayed so little knowledge of the game that he probably thought a joystick was something you rented from a Thai ladyboy. But at least he was obviously enjoying himself. Raising the total number of people enjoying the movie to "one", or "One more than Legend of Chun-Li."
- Load-Bearing Hero: Zangief in particular.
- Logo Joke: The globe in the Universal Vanity Plate becomes embossed into the Shadaloo emblem seen on Bison's cap.
- Mercy Kill: Subverted. Guile is about to give one to Blanka but is stopped by Dhalsim.
- Mind Rape: Used on Blanka to transform him into a killing machine.
- Mooks: The Shadaloo army, who, appropriately enough given how many are mowed down, wear red uniforms.
- Motive Rant: Bison explains to Zangief and Dee Jay that his Super Soldier-fueled army is intended to unite the world under one rule (his).
- Neck Lift: M. Bison does this to Dhalsim after Dhalsim makes the mistake of pressing Bison's Berserk Button.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Charlie is mutated and tortured halfway into insanity because Guile decided to make it clear (in front of the psychotic dictator) that he was friends with the leader of the Allied Nations forces.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Dee Jay bragging to Zangief's face about how he happily sided with M. Bison after being promised a massive fortune leads to Zangief pulling a Heel Face Turn.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Ryu's name is incorrectly pronounced "Rye-you". Ironically, Guile, who fails to pronounce every other word in the dictionary, is the only character capable of saying it right.
- Bison does too, but he screws up Zangief's name right before that.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Guile in the games is American. Guile in the movie is... a Belgian-American immigrant? Classic JCVD at work...
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Chun-Li as a reporter. "That's exactly... what I wanted you to think."
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Bison invokes this when informed of Guile's (fake) death, lamenting that he wanted to be the one to defeat Guile.
- Only Mostly Dead: Bison after the first part of his fight with Guile.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Bison, especially with his "I know women and you are harmless" remark towards Chun-Li.
- The Power of Friendship: Invoked by Bison, of all people.
"Had you worked together instead of against each other, you might have been successful."
- Pragmatic Adaptation
- Psycho Electro: Bison is batshit insane. He goes even more loopy when his revival causes him to have electric powers.
"FOR I BEHELD SATAN AS HE FELL FROM HEAVEN! LIKE LIIIIGHTNIIIING!!!"
- Punch Clock Villain: Dee Jay.
"Oh man. I should've stayed at Microsoft!"
- Recursive Adaptation: Had not one, but two video games based on it, both titled Street Fighter: The Movie, one for the arcades and the other for home consoles. Despite having the same title, they're not ports of each other.
- Retired Badass: The movie's version of Sagat calls Vega "the greatest cage fighter since Iron Fist", adding, when asked, that Iron Fist "retired... and became me", where he is now the reigning kingpin of the criminal underworld of Shadaloo. The movie is true enough to his character that, in the final battle, he gets the chance to prove that he's still got it.
- Rousing Speech: Guile's "We Can All Go Home" speech.
- Sand in My Eyes: Or, as Cammy claims, tear gas.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: On one hand, Guile did take out Bison in the end, but on the other, he disobeyed direct orders from his superiors and would very likely be court-martialed for military insurrection.
"Well, I'm not going home. I'm going to get in my boat, and I'm going up that river, and I'm going to kick that son of a bitch Bison's ass so hard, that the next Bison wannabe is gonna feel it. Now who wants to go home, and who wants to go with me?!"
- Shock and Awe: Bison uses this against Guile in their final battle.
Bison: "This is merely Superconductor Electromagnetism."
- Shirtless Scene: Ryu - twice. When his shirt is ripped off by one of Sagat's lady followers before he fights Vega at the beginning and by himself when he fights Vega at the end.
- Signed Up for the Dental: Dee Jay knows his employer is a power-mad dictator. But he pays well.
- The Stinger/The End - or Is It?: Bison survives the massive explosion and immediately orders his computer to restart his world domination plans. This leads to the beginning of the follow-up animated series.
- Stock Scream: And it's one you'd least expect... wait for it... "WAH-HOO-HOO-HOO-HOOEY!"
- Super Soldier: Bison attempts to turn Blanka into one as the prototype to create an army full of them.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Captain Sawada served as a substitute for Fei-Long, who is the only character from the series at the time who didn't appear in the film. This was because of copyright issues due to Fei-Long's resemblance to Bruce Lee.
- Among the other reasons, the producers deemed Fei-Long "too generic" a character, the uncertainty of how a Hong Kong action movie star would fit in the story and the fact he would risk making Ken and Ryu seem redundant.
- Swiss Bank Account: Bison has one, which he wants the $20,000,000,000 ransom wired to.
- Take Over the World: Bison's final objective. It's probably worth noting that he doesn't even come very close - his whole scheme is the hostage thing, at least in the short term. On the other hand, he's flipping insane.
- This Is What the Building Will Look Like: Bisonopolis
- Those Two Guys: Ryu and Ken
- Title: the Adaptation: Subverted. The movie is simply called Street Fighter. Street Fighter: The Movie was the title used for the video game versions.
- Turns Red/One-Winged Angel: Guile seemingly kills Bison and then calls Cammy to give an update. Meanwhile, the computer revives Bison, pumps him full of adrenaline and gives him the power to fly and shoot electricity.
- This is quite funny when you realize this pretty much accurately portrays how Final Boss AI tends to work in Fighting Games. You kick their ass in the first round, and then in the next, they suddenly get way tougher. And sometimes even use moves they didn't before (although Bison could only use electricity in the game of the movie of the game).
- What Could Have Been: The production team had originally made Guile and most of the "good" characters U.N. peacekeepers. But due to complaints from actual representatives of the U.N., they changed it to A.N. or Allied Nations. See Brand X for more details.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dhalsim lectures Guile over this when he decides Charlie is Better Off Dead.
- Will Not Be a Victim: Chun-Li.
- Worthy Opponent: Bison seems to regard Guile as this.
Bison: I was hoping to face Guile personally on the battlefield. One gentleman warrior to another, in respectful combat. Then I would snap his spine.
- Yeah! Shot: The film ends with the heroes striking poses similar to their victory poses from the game shortly after Bison's fortress blows up.
- Then again, this was at the time when the series was still in its infancy and hardly had any information on the characters, let alone the story.