Of the many fighting games reborn as anime, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is the only one that can claim to be based on the game that started it all. Ryu now travels the Asian continent in search of battle. On the other side of the world, Ken, Ryu’s old training partner, friend, and rival, finds himself dissatisfied with the lack of challenge. Eagerly desiring a rematch with Ryu, he reminisces over his childhood experiences. Meanwhile, Bison, head of the nefarious criminal organization Shadowlaw, scours the world looking for the world’s top martial artists so he can brainwash them and use them for criminal acts. His ultimate goal is to capture Ryu, a fighter of unmatched skills. However, Ryu turns out to be far more dangerous than Bison had anticipated.
Any self-respecting video game fan should love Street Fighter II and any self-respecting Street Fighter II fan should spend some time with this fine animated adaptation. Since the movie was originally released in 1995, the animation also seems a bit dated at times, and may not hold up to some anime fans’ expectations. But I still managed to enjoy some parts of it. The opening sequence is quite nice, with a deep, bassy soundtrack and some killer animation. Watching Ryu and Sagat’s duel is certainly a good way to begin the movie. The story tends to drag just a bit between action scenes, but it’s about par for a decent action movie. Simple and unoriginal, it is functional in getting characters around and building up a reasonable degree of empathy for the good guys and enmity for the bad guys.
An Uncut, Uncensored, Unleashed DVD of the movie was released on July 18, 2006 and addresses the complaints made about the censored English versions of the film in 1995. This is a good thing and I am kind of embarassed to admit but prior to rewatching this film for review purposes, the only thing I remember about this old anime release was Chun Li’s shower scene. And I think, back then, all you got was her soapy, anime backside. That aside, the movie itself covers two different subplots that converge by the end of the movie.
To be honest though, if you’re watching this film, you really don’t care about anything but seeing your favorite characters mix it up and fight. There is a good bit of that going on in the movie. While it’s aimed at fans, I’m not ready to rule it out as a general crowd-pleaser. A word of caution: between Chun Li’s hooters and some moderate bloodshed, this isn’t a cartoon for the kids. Fight scenes are choreographed well, with some excellent uses of camera angles. Still-shots and speed lines will not be found here. The music is also good. Purists might get upset that the Japanese soundtrack was replaced, but the replacement music does its job nicely. If you love the games or knew these characters intimately when the game was tearing up the arcade and Super Nintendo, then yeah, this flick is definitely for you.