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Blu-ray Review: Street Fighter – Extreme Edition

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The Film

When it comes to truly terrible movies, you’ve got the ones that fall into the "so bad, it’s good" category and those that are more the "so bad, it’s so, so bad" type.

Street Fighter, based, in fact, on the second installment of the video game franchise (like the source material means anything for this kind of thing), falls somewhere between the two, but it’s definitely leaning toward the “no, it really is that bad” side.

There are a few moments in the film that provoke squeals of unintentional laughter – particularly amusing is General Bison’s (Raul Julia) tendency to dramatically whip his cape around – but this is a film that’s more awful than campy. Towards the beginning, I was overwhelmed with the opportunity for MST3K-style riffs, but as it dragged on, I found it hard to keep caring.

The great Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Col. William Guile, the leader of a commando team commissioned by the Allied Nations (A.N., U.N., you get the picture). When Bison announces on television that he’s captured a number of A.N. workers in the fictional Asian city of Shadaloo and is holding them hostage, Guile and his team set out to take Bison down. Along the way, Guile will be helped out by his seemingly useless sidekick, Lt. Cammy (Kylie Minogue, truly awful), journalist-turned-badass ninja Chun-Li Zang (Ming-Na Wen) and aspiring hero Ryu Hoshi (Byron Mann).

Bison, meanwhile, has plans to dominate the earth by creating legions of genetically modified killing machines, but the single prototype he ends making in the film looks like a cheap Hulk knockoff.

Street Fighter has a steady stream of cheesy dialogue, hammy performances, ridiculous accents and costumes and an absurd premise – it should be camp movie gold. Unfortunately, it’s also got terrible fight choreography and a general lack of shooting know-how behind the camera. First-time director Steven E. DeSouza (somehow, that name seems perfect for the director of this film) doesn’t have much of a feel for fight scenes, dialogue scenes or any other kind of scenes.

Now I suppose for fans of the video games, the film has some added familiarity value that makes for a fun time. But there’s no denying, no matter how devoted you are to the Street Fighter franchise, this movie blows. That’s about all that needs to be said.

The Blu-ray Disc

Street Fighter is presented in 1080p high definition, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Although this is by no means a stellar Blu-ray transfer, it still ends up looking better than this film really deserves. There is a pretty constant layer of grain over the entire film, although it is much less noticeable in scenes that take place outdoors. Interior shots range from slight to moderate levels of grain.

Flesh tones look consistent throughout the film, but color levels are never that spectacular, nor are the blacks very deep. There is ample opportunity for eye-popping colors, with the deep red costumes of Bison and his henchmen, and the extremely hard to take seriously blue berets of the A.N. troops, but everything looks rather muted.

The audio is presented in Dolby DTS-HD, and presents the laughably bad sound design nice and clear. The sound effects are so bad in spots, you’ll be grateful for the crisp presentation. A fair amount of explosions and gunfire that utilize the surround channels often.

Special Features

Aside from some promotional trailers for the upcoming Street Fighter IV video game (previously available online anyway), there isn’t anything new since the DVD release.

There’s a standard making-of featurette, two deleted scenes and several storyboard sequences, if you really feel the need to get more of the Street Fighter movie experience.

A three-minute long outtake reel isn’t bloopers, but just additional footage from the set that shows exciting stuff like Van Damme explaining to another actor how to fake a punch.

There’s also some footage from the original video games, archive material including publicity stills and other promo material and a feature commentary by director de Souza.

Only the new video game trailers are in high def; the rest is presented in standard definition.

It’s a fair amount of special features, but for most, I'm guessing sitting through the film is plenty of exposure to Street Fighter. My guess is most of this stuff ends up going unseen.

The Bottom Line

Your personal experience and memories of Street Fighter will determine whether or not there’s much enjoyment to be wrung out of this steaming pile of a movie. It’s hard to imagine anyone purchasing this on Blu-ray, but I know you people are out there. Somewhere.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.