Street Fighter: Too Many Man, and Mike.

In 1994, I had no time for you. My whole life revolved solely around Point Horror novels and our Sega Megadrive. Had they only found some way to combine the two, there’s no guarantee I’d even be talking to you now, more likely living in a cave plastered with the pages of Call Waiting and The Lifeguard whilst engrossed in some 12 bit pixelated teenage murder mystery. To be clear; that is still something I’d be interested in if anyone has the capabilities. Teenage me has A LOT of ideas. Anyway, the Megadrive.

We were blessed with the beloved Megadrive during the great Christmas of 1993. At the time, my father was living and working in a juvenile care home, and I would spend all my weekends and half term holidays with these children and teenagers in a massive country house deep in the Kentish countryside. It’s fair to say that other than the occasional sugar fuelled attempt to throw me out the playroom window, or run me over with the tractor lawnmower, these sweet baby angels saw me as no threat, and in the space of a few years I had acquired fifteen new best mates who, despite their assorted wonky home lives and terrible previous experiences, were kind enough to never once make fun of me for reading books up trees, play acting Victorian ladies in the garden wearing a plastic hula hoop, collecting dirt and keeping it in jars, or any of the other weird shit I used to do.

I was spending the school holidays with my dad, the giver of the Megadrive, and to this day, I have never heard a group of kids scream the way we all did when it was unwrapped on Christmas morning. Absolute pandemonium. You’ve never seen a 5am like this. Some of these poor kids had less than nothing. They didn’t even have a family member who was interested in seeing them for Christmas. But now, as well as an abundance of Cadbury’s Roses and a new towelling bathrobe; now they had a share in my Megadrive.

It came with Sonic The Hedgehog, but we were also purchased Streets of Rage and Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. The household instantly became obsessed with all three. For me, it was all about the latter two, which I still play on a semi-regular basis to unravel my brain, but I’ll take a crack at Sonic every now and again, if only for that level with all the lava and murderous caterpillars. MARBLE ZONE. YOU KNOW.

It only occurred to me as a grown up, that I think it was just as much if not more so the varied and ridiculous background stories of the characters in the beat ‘em ups and two player versus games that made me love them, as it was the beating up itself. Sure, Streets of Rage was pretty straightforward. A big laughing man in a suit with a machine gun has kidnapped your mate’s brother or painted the city in cartoon crime, so now you fight all manner of punks in raincoats, ninjas who live down the arcade, and screeching ladies with whips to get him back/fix it. But Street Fighter was different. In the booklet that accompanied the game, every single character had STATS, you knew their ages, their favourite food, their fucking shoe size. And you knew exactly why they were there and fighting in the tournament. I went on to choose my favourites in every game based on their fictional personalities, and to be fair I still do that now with real life fighters. And sports personalities. And contestants on old episodes of Catchphrase they show on Challenge TV. What can I say? I get emotionally invested.

This game was smashed solidly in our house, and the home, for months. I was going to bed singing the Eddie Honda sumo bath house music, so imagine what happened when I found out they had made a live action film and that I was going to get to see my beloved Chun-Li and her Ox Horns on my tellybox. I imagine that by 2017’s standards of button bashing, 70 characters with 300 outfits, 120 hit combo Street Fighter which, you know, I don’t mind watching on YouTube but absolutely don’t have enough synapses firing to be any good at, Chun-Li is a pretty terrible character. But in 1994, all I had was Blaze, Chun-Li, and Sonya Blade. That’s it. Later that tiny woman from Tekken who sometimes turned into a bear. Aside from the fact that everyone in Tekken had a face like an egg box, she also wore full trousers, making it impossible to gauge the power of her thighs. Consequently, I wasn’t too interested.

Fast forward then to the Friday night in Choices Video, prawn crackers at the ready, that I was able to hand the Street Fighter video box over to my mother. It even had Jean Claude Van Damme in it. The 6 months I had been waiting to watch him and Gomez Addams have it out might as well have been my whole life.

Street Fighter kicks in with, I assume, sensitively sourced footage of a war torn made up city in what you assume is Thailand, called Shadaloo. M. Bison, the maniacal overlord brought to power by nothing in particular other than a booming laugh and space boots, is trying to oppress the kids, and not only that, he wants to build a territory all his own in direct opposition with the Allied Nations called BISONOPOLIS, where all the buildings make the shape of a skull. I should like to point out at this juncture, that M. Bison stopped being scary to me a long time before I saw this film, specifically when I read in Gamesmaster Magazine that no, the M in M. Bison wasn’t meant to stand for Master, but in fact his name was Mike. Mike, guys. Look it up. I swear to god. Mike Bison, having co-opted the Nazi aesthetic and had someone invent him a pair of rocket powered shoes. Sorry, but even at 11 years old I had already been more scared by my own mother when I used her favourite lipstick as a Sharpie on the bedroom wall than I was of Mike. The fact that he was played by Raul Julia, whoever rest his soul, didn’t really help, as my only frame of reference was Gomez, overly romantic patriarch of our beloved Addams Family. But never mind, I wasn’t here for him, it was the others I needed to see. Chun-Li is a reporter, Eddie Honda is her camera man, and Balrog drives the van full of their stuff. Neck deep on the frontlines is where they run into Jean Guile Van Damme.

You remember Guile. Guile of the ice blonde flat top, of the Sonic Boom. Legend has it that, well, nothing. Bison killed his mate and he wanted revenge, simple as. A member of the U.S. military forces. Stars and Stripes tattoos and cracks about country music abound. However, since JCVD obviously couldn’t do an American accent, and Kylie Minogue, starring as Cammy doesn’t feel to bother with a British one, I imagine that’s where we get ourselves an “Allied Nations”. Honestly, it had taken me a minute on originally watching to know who he was supposed to be. In place of the legendary blonde Wayne Static hair do, what we have is a regular-ass barnet that’s been bleached, but not for long enough, and only the once, leaving it a burnt copper. More of a hair don’t really. You get me? Complete with his thick Belgian accent, ambiguous military get up, and more shite one liners than a Jimmy Carr stand up show, he was about as far from the true blue William F. Guile as it was possible to get. So he’s a nope.

To be fair, I don’t hate her trousers.

Spoiler alert: there are no Sonic Booms. Or that leg screwdriver thing that Cammy did in the later games, but I didn’t know anything about her at the time, so to me she was just fluff. As Guile’s right hand woman, all she does is repeat everything he says like a crap parrot, and get all wet eyed the 40 times they insinuate he might be dead. I guess there was supposed to be some sort of hint at a behind the scenes romance, but I promise you, you don’t care. Aside from that, I honestly think she does about three kicks the whole film. She was the first sighted and prime example of what the film continues to seem to do, which is wedge as many characters into the storyline as humanly possible. They all get their time in the sun, but let’s just say they didn’t all need it. I digress.

 

Whilst Guile is giving Bison the finger on the 6 o clock news, and faking his own death for the first time of many (only to sit up in the morgue later on and give Chun-Li a heart attack when she goes looking for him), Ryu and Ken are selling guns to Sagat, and fighting Vega down the Thailand Working Men’s Club. I promise you it doesn’t matter why. Only that they all end up in prison together, then on their way to Shadaloo, Ryu and Ken to fight with the good guys, and Sagat and Vega line themselves up with Mike. That’s M. Bison, in case you somehow managed to forget that his name is fucking Mike. Also working for Mike are DeeJay and Zangief. Again, I’m not entirely convinced either actor was from their character’s homeland of Jamaica and Russia respectively, but they sure do make for one hell of a forced comedy duo. The relaxed comical island mon, alongside the giant, uptight emotionless Russian? Hilarity ensues (it doesn’t).

Other stuff going on down Shadaloo includes: “Dr. Dhalsim” who doesn’t once do flamethrower yoga, wears shoes, and isn’t even fucking bald, has been blackmailed into experimenting on Guile’s captured bestie Charlie. By hooking him up to a tv showing some ladies getting burnt alive plus loads of static, then pumping him full of I.V. bags of what looks like glowstick juice mixed with Mountain Dew, we now have Blanka. Or a 70s Hulk in a red wig – you decide.

Nice picture of your real dad.

Eddie and Balrog get captured and tortured, then remember they’re fucking massive and escape. Zangief and Honda have a fight and stomp all over the lolly sticks model of Bisonopolis whilst, I shit you not, Godzilla noises play over the top.

And what of my previously beloved Chun-Li? Played by the weirdly ageless Ming-Na Wen (voice of Mulan, Jade off Spawn, and Dr. Chen from ER), she gets herself nabbed by M. BIson, who drags her back to his chambers and pops on a silky dressing gown, presumably hoping this combined with his refusal to take off his Nazi hat will make her all of a sudden wanna snog him up. Instead she takes 15 minutes to tell him that she works for Interpol and that he killed her dad. He politely explains that he doesn’t remember because it isn’t important. “The day M. Bison graced your village with his presence was the most important day of your life. For me, it was a Tuesday.” Yes Gomez. You got me laughing. She beats shit out of him and leaves him on the floor in his Scrooge McHitler night attire.

IT WAS TUESDAY.

Ryu and Ken fight Sagat and Vega in a locker room, complete with weird barren uppercuts and hadoukens, all the right moves, but no magic blue sparkles. Sagat doesn’t even take his top off, never mind elbow anyone to death in his shiny shorts. Quite unsatisfactory. Deejay disappears with 5 million Bison Dollars. Blanka escapes, presumably in his Daisy Dukes.

Bison gets his moonboots on, levitates with his arms up, and Guile kicks him in the chest. GAME OVER. They all blow up Shadaloo and go home. Quite honestly, at this point I’d lost track of who was alive, and who was dead. They even dragged T. Hawk out to help Cammy when Guile let everyone think he’d been exploded. Again.

Ultimately, this film did exactly what everyone needed it to do in 1994. It gave you a bit of backstory for all the characters you were pretending to be wearing a tablecloth from down Bamboo Garden chinese restaurant in your bedroom, whilst your brother cut the sleeves off his school shirt and punched holes in the wall screaming “SHORYUKEN!” In 2017, it infuriated you with trying to cram as many characters into the film as possible, giving some of them absolutely no screen time, a few of them a weird alternative personality, and the rest the wrong accents. You’ll notice that this article is missing photos of a few people. Just Google them mate, I honestly cannot cram any more pictures in here, it’s fucking ridiculous.

I don’t even know what out of 10. 3? We have to give it at least 3 because Raul Julia died right after making it, and at one point he makes a joke about Sagat’s eyepatch that straight up killed me. R.I.P. Mike.

6 thoughts on “Street Fighter: Too Many Man, and Mike.

  1. I think the only computer game film i was more dissapointed in, in ’94 was the super mario bros abortion, remember thinking why have they put half the fighters from Super Street Fighter 2 in it (the game hadn’t been released in the UK when the film came out, so other than the special issue of Mega i had which kept me informed of the all important stats, blood types, favourite foods and shoe sizes of the new combatants they were strangers to me…)
    any of the Mortal Kombats films on the list?
    And as for SF2:CE on the megadrive, how i lorded it over the snes plebs with the bloodless SF2 experience mine had 4 pixels of red where they only had wussy white 😀

    • Other fun street fighter 2 factoid, Mike Bison was balrogs original name, but they swapped the boss characters names around to avoid a likeness lawsuit from mike tyson, so in japan M Bison is called Vega, Vega is balrog, and balrog is m. bison, i really need to get out of the 90’s, but my interest in the contemporary died with mini discs…..

  2. I remember seeing this at the cinema and I think it was my first experience of a shonky film. I was gutted that Dhalsim didn’t do the extendy limb attack at all and that Blanca essentially looked like a fat green version of the dude from Space Raiders.

    That said, I have the burning desire to watch this again now!

  3. I assumed on a rewatch it wouldn’t be great, but when Dhlasim turned up in a linen suit and did nothing, I knew we were done for. Do it/don’t do it!

  4. This has always been one of them films I revisit at least once a year to relive how bad it is, but for some reason it keeps me hooked every single damn time. To me its one of those films that is so bad its good.

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