Unless you were around in the early 90s, it’s hard to forget how big of a deal “Street Fighter II: The World Warrior” was. It was a smash hit in the arcades and was one of the biggest selling non-Nintendo published game for the SNES. Sega was clamoring for their own version, as was every other console and handheld at the time. The Capcom franchise is still performing strongly. Enough so the gaming publisher has sold development rights to Legendary Pictures for future film and television projects.
This isn’t the first time Legendary has worked with a video game property (“Detective Pikachu” in 2019). This also isn’t the first time the Street Fighter property has been brought to film or television. In 1994 a live-action film was produced starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile, shifting the focus away from the video game’s main star, Ryu. The film was commercially a bit of a success but critically panned. Today, the film is mostly remembered (understandably) for Raul Julia giving an amazingly over the top performance as warlord M. Bison. But for him, it was Tuesday…
Legendary’s acquisition of the rights from Capcom was finalized earlier this week. While specifics on the various projects haven’t been revealed, one would hope they’d come up with something better than everything that followed the 1994 film. An English language cartoon ran for two seasons on the USA Network, mostly trying to follow the elements of the live-action film. Guile was still the main character and commanded a team that fought M. Bison and his nefarious plans. In 2009, there was “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li,” which was somehow even worse than the 1994 film.
To be fair, Street Fighter adaptations fared better in Japan where a successful animated movie and anime series were produced. The rest of the world got the short end of the stick then but times are changing for video game adaptations now. HBO has it’s successful “The Last of Us” series, Paramount has distributed two successful “Sonic the Hedgehog” films, and there are more projects coming down the pipeline for series fresh and forgotten. There’s also Neill Blomkamp‘s “Gran Turismo” feature film, and the upcoming “Twisted Metal“ series for Peacock.
There are some rich characters and stories in the Street Fighter universe that could prove entertaining to watch on the big screen. We’ve come a long way from 1994 and pretending Guile was supposed to be the main character. (And mispronouncing “Ryu.” It’s pronounced REE-you, not RIII-you.) We’ll have to wait and see what Legendary comes up with for the world warriors, but in the meantime you can go back and watch Raul Julia hamming it up to an amazing degree in that original film.