Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie Review

AKA: Street Fighter II Movie, Street Fighter II
Genre: Martial Arts/Action/Adventure
Year Released: 1994
Distributor: Discotek
Origin: Japan
Running Time: 104 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: PG-13 (Theatrical Cut), 16+ (Uncut Version)
Related Films/Series: Street Fighter (live-action), Street Fighter II V, Street Fighter (American animated series), Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, Street Fighter Alpha: Generations, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind, Street Fighter: Legacy, Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, Street Fighter: Resurrection
For Fans Of: Virtua Fighter, The King of Fighters: Destiny, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Fist of the North Star, Naruto, Ninku, Bleach
Notes:
-The uncut version was used for this review.

-The Japanese language track was used for this review.

-Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is streaming on RetroCrush.

-WARNING! Some spoilers will be mentioned in this review.

-Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is in a different canon compared to the II V animated series or other animated takes on this video game adaptation.

-Characters will be addressed under their American names. Japanese names will be on the left while the English ones will be on the right.
Balrog=Vega
Vega=M. Bison
M. Bison=Balrog

Fun Facts:
-Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is the first ever adaptation of anything involving the Street Fighter video game franchise.

-In the Japanese version, Guile is voiced by Masane Tsukayama. He is the current voice of Gold D. Roger from One Piece, Igor in the Persona 5 series, and he even voiced the adult version of Leo/Kimba in Jungle Emperor Leo (1997) of all characters!

-The music was provided by Tetsuya Komuro AKA TK (insert Digimon or New Zealand wrestling joke here). He has composed Vampire Hunter D, Speed 2, and is currently a songwriter for J-pop icon Ayumi Hamasaki.

-MMA Fan Bonus/Wrestling Fan Bonus: This was the acting debut of Masakatsu Funaki who played Fei Long. He is decorated in both MMA and pro wrestling. In the former, he’s a two-time King of Pancrase Champion. In the latter, he is a former KO-D Tag Champ in DDT with Yukio Sakaguchi, Pro Wrestling Zero1 World Heavyweight Champion, and in All Japan Pro Wrestling, he was a Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion as well as a Tag Team Champion alongside veteran wrestler The Great Muta.

-Disney Fan Bonus: Main Street Fighter baddie M. Bison as well as Zangief would actually appear in Wreck-it-Ralph alongside several other video game characters.

-Street Fighter was created by Takashi Nishiyama back in 1987. He actually invented the famous “Hadouken” move after being inspired by watching Space Battleship Yamato of all things. Nishiyama would leave Capcom before Street Fighter II came out and would work for rival company SNK where he was a producer for the Fatal Fury and even the King of Fighters games. It’s hilarious when you realize his creations would fight each other with the Capcom Vs. SNK series. He would found his own company Dimps, but he did get to be an executive producer for Street Fighter IV though.

-[WARNING! SPOILERS IN THIS FACT!] Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie would be the REAL debut of Violent Ken which predates SVC: Chaos (the third game in the Capcom Vs. SNK series that was developed by the latter company) by 9 years. They would bring that version of Ken back for Ultra Street Fighter II.

-The English dub used music from Korn, Alice in Chains, and KMFDM among other bands.

Another goal is knocked out of the park. I managed to finish three reviews involving series I’ve previously covered multiple times before. First was Ghost In the Shell, secondly was Weathering With You since it’s in the same universe as The Garden of Words and Your Name, and now it’s back to Street Fighter. Oh, Capcom’s premier fighting game has been fun to play, but when it comes to their adaptations, it isn’t so great. The Alpha movies were terrible in my opinion and Street Fighter II V was average at best. Well, after checking out The King of Fighters: Destiny, I felt somewhat compelled to feature something related to fighting games again. This time around, I got to see the first ever adaptation of Street Fighter. I heard it was considered to be one of the best animated versions of this video game compared to the average II V series or the laughably bad American cartoon adaptation.

Street Fighter II is considered to be a classic video game which I don’t dispute, but does the inaugural adaptation have that kind of worth?

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is roughly based on Super Street Fighter II game given the characters and some of the storylines. It kicks off a few years ago where Ryu fights the feared Muay Thai fighter Sagat. The fight gets very violent, but Ryu bests him by scarring his chest with his signature Shoryuken move. Years after the fact, terrorist organization Shadowlaw lead by M. Bison has been making moves in the underworld with weapons and drug smuggling while kidnapping fighters from around the world while brainwashing them to become super soldiers. His organization has been assassinating politicians and other high-ranking people. In the meantime, they’re being investigated by Interpol agent Chun-Li who convinces US Air Force Major Guile to come with her to take on Bison who murdered the former’s father and the latter’s friend (most likely Charlie if anyone knows anything about Street Fighter). Ryu is busy traveling the world taking on other fighters and his best friend/rival Ken Masters wants to reunite to fight him for real as they’ve trained together. Shadowlaw’s grip on the world would force all these people to be together in a sinister plot to create these super-soldiers to serve the mighty Bison.

Straight out the gate, there is a glaringly obvious positive aspect about this take on Street Fighter which stands above other films and TV series I’ve seen. This movie looks incredible. It is easily the best-looking Street Fighter animated work I’ve seen and it was shocking with how well this still looks to this day. I’m not sure if this was a remaster job with Discotek working their magic like they did with Jungle Emperor Leo, but the fact that this came out in 1994 and still looking this smooth to this day deserves to be commended. The fight scenes really stand out and feel-hard hitting than the other movies and series I’ve seen. One could argue that it feels more impactful than the original game itself. This was also more mature with the stakes of the storylines and themes going on. Surprisingly, the plot doesn’t revolve that much around tournaments besides a few fights here and there. The friendship/rivalry between Ryu and Ken was great with the backstories and the Violent Ken subplot with Bison really gave Ryu some trouble in the 3rd act. It really puts a twist of their promise to “fight for real” instead of just sparring the next time they meet, but it’s done in a way that Ryu really didn’t want to happen which makes the main character look vulnerable at that point of the movie. For a fighting game-based anime to not be reliant on a tournament is a big plus and when there’s less emphasis on that trope like shonen fighting anime (see: Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho which aired not long before), you’re doing something right. There was also a good amount of spotlights with people besides Ryu and Ken. Chun-Li had a major fight scene against Vega, Guile gets in on some action against Shadowlaw, and even E. Honda of all characters managed to help out in the final battle. It was good seeing some shine on characters besides the Shotokan duo. M. Bison was certainly a threatening villain, but I was surprised with his calmer demeanor this time around. Takeshi Kusaka did well in voicing that villain with his intimidating baritone voice and wasn’t hammy like so many other iterations of that character. Just don’t expect any “This is delicious!” or “Of course!” moments with him though. If you prefer a more understated as opposed to an over-the-top Bison, than Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is certainly for you.

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie does lose some rounds. While I get they were trying to feature a bunch of the characters associated with Super Street Fighter II, it can be a bit of a schmozz-fest. The appearances of Dee Jay, Blanka, and Zangief felt very random when all is said and done. I thought Sagat would have a bigger role given the opening fight scene, but he was put to the wayside for most of the film. For those who’ve read my Street Fighter II V review, you can probably guess some of my issues about some of the characters. Balrog looks all kind of problematic and he has reversed cross-eyes (I was never a fan of that boxer even before realizing the unfortunate implications of that character in the games). T. Hawk probably isn’t as offensive as the aforementioned boxer, but he still has stereotypical Native American (Yes, I’m aware he’s an Indigenous Mexican in canon, but my point stands) features. Speaking of the character designs, this screams 90s steroid freaks. I swear most of the guys looked so gassed up to near-G. I. Joe Extreme levels. Even characters like Fei Long and Vega who weren’t big characters to begin with look like they’ve been taking way too many HGH supplements for their own good. The uncut version had unnecessary nudity which had no point other than cheap fanservice. One big disappointment was the music. Besides the instrumental where Bison and company walk towards the command center which was powerful and menacing, it was either generic or sounded like cheesy early 90s adult contemporary music which also includes the themes. I don’t want to hear that stuff in a Street Fighter movie. If I was in control of the music, I’d make sure to have a remix of the Street Fighter II theme and since Guile is in this movie in a notable role, I would make sure this theme song is there because IT GOES WITH EVERYTHING! Let’s take some time to bask in the glory of this amazing theme music.

Even the SFV remix was pretty cool, too!

Back to the review now. Anyways, the music was a big let down for me and make so many of the fight scenes and normal scenes lack so much impact.

This take on Street Fighter was better than the other movies and the first anime series I’ve seen. It’s no masterpiece, by any stretch of the imagination, but the animation and fights are still impressive to this day. There was a solid effort with actually having a story and point to the fights. While it was nice to see a lot of the characters, some of the appearances felt too short or shallow just to pander to the fans of the game. The music was a major letdown and there’s some stupid stereotypical stuff with Balrog and T. Hawk (Dee Jay doesn’t absolve the creators when it comes to the former, and even then he has his own issues in his presentation). Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is fine for action flick aficionados and casual anime fans, but not for people who want more depth in their movies.

Adjustable Point Scores:
-Add 1-2 points if you’re a Street Fighter fan.
-Add 1 point if you love action and martial arts movies.
-Subtract 1-2 points if you want characters to be represented equally.
-Subtract 2-4 points if you want cerebral films.

Pros:
-Wonderful animation and fight scenes
-Ryu and Ken’s friendship, rivalry, and character development
-Some characters outside of Ryu and Ken get some spotlights

Cons:
-Generic and unfitting music
-Racially insensitive portrayals with Balrog, T. Hawk, and even Dee Jay
-Fandom pandering with cameos

Final Score: 6/10 points

Content Advisory: I saw the uncut version which is something I wouldn’t let kids watch. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie has more brutal violence than any of the video games past and present. The fights get bloody and people die like Cammy assassinating a politician by snapping his neck around for example. The language gets R-rated at multiple junctures and there’s even mention of Shadowlaw shipping cocaine in passing. There’s nudity with Chun-Li showering as well as fanservice with her and Cammy. Vega’s invasion of Chun-Li’s hotel room has some attempted sexual assault vibes and he’s super creepy in his version by licking her blood from his claws.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos and videos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is property of Discotek and Capcom. The Blu-Ray cover is from eBay and is property of Discotek.

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