The video game film adaptation fans have been waiting for!
Based on the one of the most popular video game sagas ever made, Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist follows martial arts students, Ryu (Mike Moh) and Ken (Christian Howard). Under the guidance of their sensei, Goken, they have chosen the traditional warrior’s path by spending years training at their dojo in Japan, far from the big cities, in order to master the ancient fighting style known as “Ansatsuken” (Assassin’s Fist).
The years of hard training begin to show results, but also some desperation in Ken, who strives to learn as much as possible. His master forces the pair to remain patient until their next stage of training, something that does not frustrate Ryu the way it does his training partner. As their strength increases, Ryu and Ken are ready to start learning the legendary techniques of the Hadou, which involve the power of nothingness. During this stage of training, however, they being to learn more about their master’s mysterious and painful past, and the dark legacy of the Ansatsuken style that consumed the life of Goken’s brother, Goki.
The Street Fighter franchise seemed cursed from its first cinematic release, back in 1994. Hollywood chose to make a film featuring Guile, one of the original eight characters from the game (and the most American), who was played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film was a total disaster; and not even the late Raul Julia, who did a decent job as Bison (sadly, his final performance on the big screen) was able to save it.
Almost 15 years later, Andrzej Bartkowiak – responsible for the film adaptation of the popular shooting game, ‘Doom’ (which received very average reviews) – was tasked with resurrecting the Street Fighter franchise. He created a series of spin-offs, based on each of the most popular characters, starting with a Chun-Li movie, starring Kristin Kreuk, Neal McDonough, Chris Klein and the late Michael Clarke Duncan. Expectations dropped upon news that the plot involved Chun-Li seeking vengeance on Bison, a wealthy crime lord who’d kidnapped her parents, and that one of the Black Eyed Peas had been confirmed to play the role of Vega. The result was obvious: a straight-to-DVD release in 2009 that achieved what was previously thought impossible: a film even worse than the ’94 offering.
Fans’ hopes of a movie were dashed; only the games, and the amazing Japanese animations based on saga were worthwhile. Then stunt-man, actor and Street Figther fan, Joey Ansah (The Bourne Ultimatum), alongside stuntman, Christian Howard, created a 3-minute short film named Street Fighter: Legacy. The film quickly went viral and became the closest thing to what fans wanted in a Street Fighter film. After that, Capcom, the company behind the game, gave them its blessing to produce a full, 12-episode series, which became the web series megahit: Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist. The series followed in the footsteps of Kevin Tancharoen’s success with the Mortal Kombat web series animation, Mortal Kombat: Legacy; and it opened up a market in which fans were able to have input, thanks to social media.
Now, Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist can be enjoyed as a full movie, with more than two hours of Street Fighter glory, and a perfect cast that look like they were taken directly from the game – the similarities are stunning, particularly Christian Howard’s portrayal of Ken Masters. In addition, Taekwondo world champion, Mike Moh, captures the true essence of the spirituality and willpower of Ryu, making the duo of lead characters a flawless choice. Moreover, Goken (Akira Koieyama) is also a great choice, as well as the rest of the cast. There really don’t seem to be any weak actors at all.
The “film” moves forward quickly, and includes a ridiculous amount of references to the game series, such as the origin of Ryu and Ken’s iconic theme songs from the game, the reason Ryu changes his white headband for a red one, and why Ken cuts his hair and sometimes shows some boxing skill. Furthermore, the use of flashbacks to explain Goken’s back-story is cleverly done, and also shows dedication by the production team in terms of the inclusion of several elements of the Street Fighter universe. They even show the rise and fall of one of the most hated and beloved characters of the game, Goki (aka Akuma (Demon)), going as far as explaining the meaning and origin of the iconic symbol stamped on his back.
Generally speaking, the action and cinematography in the film is impressive. There are mind-blowing fights, full of Street Fighter style, featuring Hadokens, Shoryukens and more – Ken and Ryu are even pitted against each other, fighting with all their might and leaving an opening for the return of Akuma and a possible take-down of his brother, Goken. We also suggest that you be patient and wait until the credits end, as something happens that is sure to leave you speechless, or screaming, ‘I want to see more now!’
The Blu-ray release is completed by what probably are the most precise and carefully selected extras for a film like this one, with Ken’s video diary, showing that he and Ryu are still boys and not warriors 24 hours a day. There are also deleted and extended scenes, cast and crew interviews and must-see behind-the-scenes clips featuring the film’s action and special. It may surprise you to find that many of the effects were made manually, and without the use of much cgi, in order to keep everything as realistic as possible.
Overall, Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist is the video game film adaptation fans have been awaiting for many years, and it’s a must-own release on either DVD or Blu-ray. Simply a perfect KO!