Maybe it is time for critics to come clean: We were wrong. Terribly wrong.
Steven E. de Souza’s 1994 adaptation of video game Street Fighter was never intended to be a good movie. Everything about this movie is cinematic cheese to the extreme, from the corny, campy one-liners to the visual props used in the story. Just about everyone completely missed the point and took this seriously.
How? When M. Bison (Raul Julia) is detailing his plans for a world-dominating government center, he tells his architect to, “Make the food court bigger.” No one writes that line, in which a power mad dictator is suddenly concerned with something as trivial as restaurants, without their tongue so firmly planted in cheek it nearly pierces through.
The same goes for Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski), watching TV as it shows a truck loaded with TNT starts barreling towards his location. His response? “Change the channel.”
There are others, but the numerous visual nods are many as well. Bison uses a full replica of the Street Fighter arcade game’s control panel to set off mines in the area around his complex. Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) breaks up an underground fighting ring by driving a missile launcher through the front door.
It has apparently taken over a decade for this one to sink in. At the time, fans were furious their beloved video game characters were so tragically butchered by this script. For every one De Souza got right (such as Vega), three others were in an entirely different ballpark in a different country that exists only in an alternate dimension.
The hilarity of paying attention to how the script tries to rationalize their costume changes is priceless too, particularly with Dhalsim (Roshan Seth). Previously seen as a high-class scientist, he suddenly shreds his lab coat for an Indian neck ring. Did he come to work with that thing every day, waiting for an opportunity to show it off to his captors?
Come to think of it, even if critics were wrong and missed the intended purpose of Street Fighter, it doesn’t change much. This is a terrible movie, filled with weakly choreographed, boring fights, a dreadfully long finale, and plotline that is ludicrous at best. Even if the intent was incorrectly gauged, Street Fighter remains an appalling attempt at recreating the video game. It exists to laugh at, not with, and that seems to be the key problem. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
Issues with Universal’s VC-1 encode seem to stem from the use of an older, dated master. Artificial sharpening has been applied with drastic results. Edge enhancement is generally thick, outlining characters and backgrounds with halos. Grain has been elevated, giving it a harsh, unnatural appearance.
Some artificial brightening seems to have performed as well, causing hefty grain spikes, even in dark areas of the screen. The encode also struggles to keep up, leading to noticeable, frequent artifacting.
Colors have been saturated as well, shades now giving off a neon-like quality. The ferns of Bison’s island paradise radiate with a neon green, and Chun-Li’s red dress bleeds significantly. Flickering/shimmering is noted on window bars and car grills.
Close-ups show some limited facial detail, although not completely resolved due to processing and noise reduction. Deep black levels are generally fine and stable. Crush is a minimal problem. Shadow delineation is typically satisfactory. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
As with the video, the DTS-HD mix sounds wholly hollow and artificial. Ambient audio sounds louder than it should be, drowning out dialogue. Listen to the conversation Guile has walking through an infirmary, with people yelling and babies crying split in the stereo channels. While character dialogue is audible, the split fronts are too strong, with the background audio as loud as the story-based chatter.
Action scenes are lively, but also overcooked. As people are tossed through walls, splintered wood shatters cleanly in all channels, although little directionality exists. Gunfire is muffled and flat. Any bass from massive explosions is muted and lost in the mix. Oddly, the easiest way to explain this mix is that is sounds compressed, despite that not being the case. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
Extras are carried over from a Special Edition DVD, with some additional (now dated) promos for the game Street Fighter IV. A making-of is purely a promotional blip, running for less than six minutes. Outtakes are a collection of raw footage from the set, not the expected bloopers. Two deleted scenes are followed by two storyboard sequences. Two clips from the video games showcase how the Guile/Bison battle played out there.
Two sections in Cyberwalk go unexplained, one some kind of training manual for working in Bison’s camp, and the other is an extended news report. Archives provides stills of toys, posters, set pictures, and trailers. A solo commentary from Steven E. de Souza is fine, and typical BD-Live support is included. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]