Sunday, May 25, 2014

Street Fighter Assassin's Fist = Best live-action Street Fighter adaptation yet!!

I've been a long time fan of Street Fighter, since I first played it on the SNES with Street Fighter II: The World Warrior.

There's simply something magical with Street Fighter II when it first came out. It was the first time in my personal gaming history, for me to see a game where you can actually select the character you will use in-game. Remember this was the time when back in the day, you only control one character and you have little to no choice as to who you will control (ie. Super Mario Bros, you only control Mario if you're player one, etc.)

It may not seem much of a big deal nowadays, but the first time I saw the game's "Player Select" screen, I was blown-away by the sheer number of characters to choose from of 8 unique characters.

Another memorable component of the game was it was the first time I ever played a game wherein I actually fight AGAINST another player sitting next to me. Back then, multiplayer was a co-op affair, with the second player helping you in your game. So actually playing a game where I'm fighting against another person was simply amazing for me. :D

Suffice to say, the game took the gaming world like a storm. And it's insane popularity led Hollywood to make a film version of the series. The campy, weird, but okay-in-a-way, live-action movie in 1994.

In a way, the film sort of "nailed it", with Van Dame doing Guile's famous Flash kick (aka Jack Knife kick), and loved Raul Julia's depiction of M. Bison going all campy with puns galore. :D

But obviously the gamer in me isn't quite satisfied with the movie, compared to Mortal Kombat which fully embraced the game's lore and mythology, Street Fighter the movie was a little bit more "Hollywood-friendly". Guile became the lead character, instead of Ryu and Ken (who were relegated to minor supporting roles in the film), and don't even get me started with that piece of s***; Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li.

F*** you Hollywood. Just F*** you.
Quite frankly, I don't get why can't Hollywood get Street Fighter right. It's like its cool to make a movie about demi-gods, superheroes, aliens and what-not, but it's just not cool to make a film about a bunch of martial artists who can wield near-superhuman abilities and powers. It simply doesn't make any sense to me. I was thinking, if the comicbooks can do it, why can't videogames?

And I think that's what the producers of Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist were thinking as well. And it only took them this proof-of-concept to show to the world how a REAL Street Fighter movie is made:

As a fan, the moment I saw this clip, I was blown away at how this short fan film does a better job at capturing what Street Fighter is than the shitty live-action movies Hollywood has shown to date. Add the fact that guy playing as Ken is pretty spot on (seriously, its as if he was lifted out of the game and into the real world. That's how scarily accurate they got the portrayal). It was AMAZING. 

Little did I know that this was a taste of things to come. And now, after the long wait, the same team who produced Street Fighter: Legacy, is back with Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist. A mini-series that's now available on YouTube which expands on the story of Ryu and Ken's tutelage under Gouken, and their history with their master's rival/brother; Akuma/Gouki.

Here's the entire playlist for your viewing pleasure:

Without spoiling too much, I'd have to say this is THE BEST live-action adaptation of Street Fighter bar none!! They took the mythology and lore of the game and added new twists and filled-in some of the parts that were unexplained in the series, giving a fresh perspective to both new and old fans alike. 

I also loved the fact that they focused the entire mini-series only on Ryu and Ken's tutelage under their master Gouken, as it gives alot of character development between these 2 friends/rivals. Admittedly, it also gives Ryu, which is more or less a blank slate in the game, a more fleshed out story and his interactions with his best buddy Ken are some of the highlights of this series. Because of keeping the focus on just 4 characters, everyone of them feels much more developed and less rushed, making fans appreciate them more. :D

The series is also peppered with tons of fan service and nods to the game that only hardcore fans will get/notice, and is a delight to watch (ie. watch out for the Yoshinori Ono; the producer of Street Fighter, cameo).

That said, I do have abit of critique mostly with the special effects, as I believe they could've done a better job in showing off the "Hadouken" and "Shoryuken". 

One example would be the "Shoryuken", where they could show more "oomph" to the move instead of just making someone fly off. Think off the scene in the "Man of Steel", where they took the simple idea of Superman flying as shown in this scene, and added more weight and oomph to it visually:

Just look at how the ground shakes and a small dust of wind slowly pushes out of Superman's body, showing the amount of power being generated at that moment to prepare him for the leap. And how the flight seemed so powerful with the added "boom" on the ground showing off how much energy was generated during Superman's "take-off" from the ground. It's those simple cues that makes something that looks ridiculous on screen, much more believable and more visually arresting to behold. However, considering this was NOT Hollywood, I can't exactly blame the guys, as they had to work with what they have, and they focused on what mattered most... character and story.

So kudos to the team behind Street Fighter Assassin's Fist!! Seriously you made a fan out of me guys!! Hopefully this is a start of more things to come in the future!! Can't wait to see how the other World Warriors are gonna appear in your cinematic vision of the series. :D

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