Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
Based on the incredibly popular martial arts video game, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is probably the most prominent fighting game anime, and often used to measure others of its ilk.
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.
Like any fighting game anime, character development and plot don't apply here. There's one reason and one reason only to watch this movie: the martial arts. Now martial arts anime really aren't my thing, and I was certainly disappointed at the thin fragment of a plot found here. Plot holes abound, characters always seen to be in the right place at the right time, and the dialog is just plain corny (every time Bison mentioned his "psychopower", I couldn't help but laugh). Not to mention there's more than a handful of pointless scenes serving as an excuse to showcase every character from the video game. To fans of the genre, however, all this won't matter.
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. Chun-Li and Vega's fight is another high point. The close-quarters combat in Chun-Li's apartment accompanied by the fast-paced music and excellent choreography made this fight the most enjoyable of the movie (the excessive amount of fan service on the part of Chun-Li didn't hurt, either). The final fight with Ryu and Ken both taking on Bison is also good, if rather predictable and preceded by some banal story telling.
Production values are pretty high. The art and animation are beautiful, especially during the fights. 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. The English voice acting, though, is just plain bad. Aside from Bison, most of the characters are fairly flat and not convincing at all.
One other thing of note, is that the "uncut" version of this movie is still edited. There was some nudity in Chun-Li's shower scene which didn't make it overseas. And there's no subtitled version available, either.
As stated earlier, martial arts anime really aren't my thing, and anything without a decent plot or proper character development just doesn't cut it for me. Fans of the game will probably love it, but anyone wanting something cerebral won't be too impressed. I give it one thing, though. It's about ten times better than the awful live version starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. So if you're planning to watch a Street Fighter II movie, you may as well get this one.
The Verdict: * * (poor)
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