Van Damme's Bison Hunting
General Bison (Raul Julia) has taken dozens of relief workers hostage in the region of Shadaloo and he is holding them to ransom for billions of dollars. Colonel William F. Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a commander in the Allied Nations, is heading a team to try and discover where Bison is holding the workers and whilst rescuing them bring an end to the dictator's evil reign. In order to do so Guile uses two hustlers Ken (Damian Chapa) and Ryu (Byron Mann) to try and infiltrate the gang having arrested them in a weapons bust involving crime lord Victor Sagat (Wes Studi). But Guile is not the only one after Bison as news reporter Chun-Li Zang (Ming-Na Wen) masquerading as a TV reporter is after him for the murder of her father and along with heavies E. Honda (Peter Navy Tuiasosopo) and Balrog (Grand L. Bush) are staging their own attempt to get to Bison.
I was never a mega gamer in my youth and whilst I wasted some time and money playing "Street Fighter" I was not that bothered about it. So when it comes to the movie "Street Fighter" my interest in it was only ever because it starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and featured Kylie Minogue in a supporting role. But "Street Fighter" is quite a misleading movie because whilst Van Damme headlines it is not his movie it is more the late Raul Julia's movie and whilst based upon some of the characters and ideas from "Street Fighter" what we have is more of a generic action movie with a comic book style almost reminiscent to "Flash Gordon". Now it's not terrible, visually it looks reasonable and whilst the action is over edited is just about entertaining but there is nothing special about "Street Fighter" other than the fact it was Raul Julia's final movie.
Story wise "Street Fighter" is ultimately dull with a crackpot dictator and various people trying to get to him being generic and weak with numerous plot holes which make it pointless trying to follow. It tries to keep things interesting as we have numerous characters as well Bison's cliche plans to create the ultimate warrior having had a scientist experiment on one of the hostages but it does little to make the storyline interesting. And in a way that is the biggest problem with "Street Fighter" because whilst you don't expect an original or truly clever story which is crucial you do expect something more than the flimsy narrative offered.
But whilst that is the biggest problem it is not the only one and one of the misleading things about "Street Fighter" is that it is billed as a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Now Van Damme does play the movie's hero in Colonel Guile but for the most he has little to do other than struggle to deliver dialogue and trust me when it comes to Van Damme's movies his pronunciation here is some of the worst. Yes come the end of the movie Van Damme delivers the kick butt action we've been waiting for as he finally gets to take on Bison but even then it is less than enthralling with a mixture of soft action and over editing diluting the art of the choreographed action. It is the same through out with all the action especially featuring martial arts lacking flow with it being chopped to bits in the editing room.
What this means is that Raul Julia as Bison ends up becoming the star of "Street Fighter" as he certainly has more screen time than anyone else. Now it has to be mentioned that Julia was dying from cancer when he made "Street Fighter" and you do wonder why he chose to make such a poor movie as his final outing but strangely he is one of the few good things about it. Julia camps it up more than anyone else to turn Bison into an over the top evil nemesis and this actually makes the movie enjoyable in fact when ever director Steven E. de Souza tries to be more comical it feels right and it is when the movie is trying to just be an action movie it ends up dull.
What this all boils down to is that "Street Fighter" is a bit misleading as it is not a true adaptation of the once popular computer game and is not really a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie which in turns makes it disappointing. But the times it embraces a cartoon style it ends up entertaining so what you end up with is an often weak but occasionally entertaining action movie.