Region: 2 - UK
Length: 102 minutes
Shadowlaw an underground organization bent on world domination through drug smuggling, illegal weapons distribution and terrorism. Led by the evil M. Bison (Vega in the Japanese version), Shadowlaw hopes to increase their power by recruiting the world's greatest street fighters. Their main target: Ryu a master of Shotokan Karate who roams all over the world to test his skills against other fighters. As a means to lure the elusive Ryu, Bison abducts his best friend, former martial arts champion Ken Masters, and uses him as bait. Interpol agent Chun-Li and U.S. Air Force pilot Guile team up to get to Ryu before Bison does and continues his reign of terror.
If you aren't a hardcore gamer and consider yourself a discerning anime fan, Street Fighter II the Movie may not be high on your list of watching priorities. With Kazé's recent remastered release of the classic on BluRay, however, watchers may wish to reconsider their choice. The edition is crystal clear and for the first time provides the option of the Japanese dialogue and soundtrack in the UK.
There is no doubt that a lot of people will expect the film to be trash yet the animation is surprisingly high-grade. It's not a film to be underestimated as such for the director is none other than Gisaburo Sugii – an incredible talent who brought Night on the Galactic Railroad and Arashi no Yoru ni to the screen. While Streetfighter II is a wildly different set up to these films but it is clear that his influence gives the film the balance. This is necessary offset the larger than life fighting game characters and the necessity of incorporating as many of them into the film as possible, whilst still creating something resembling a plot. Somehow, incredibly, he pulls this off. The animation in the fight sequences is truly spectacular. The settings are particularly well created and explore the locations of the game's world stage with gorgeously painted background art.
There are some juicy sequences of the fighters performing their signature killer moves which will be sure fire hit with anyone who enjoyed performing these actions in the game.
I'm not for a moment suggesting that the film isn't cheesy – it is – but it's a breed of brainless fun that is impeccably produced and I can't argue with that. That and Chun-Li in the shower, followed by a fight with Balrog (aka Vega) which I believe to be one of the greatest animated fight scenes ever.
The soundtrack is there for both versions so advocates of the dub with its alternative/grunge music or purists can enjoy the feature in their own way. It is interesting to note that this was my first time viewing the Japanese score and language track. While I think it is exceptionally hard to beat the quality of the Japanese voice actors with any English dub, the choice of some of the music in the dub is well placed and in the instance of the fight between Balrog (Vega) and Chun-Li, it gives a greater sense of empowerment to her as a fighter. The Japanese version is set against a softer sweeter piece of music that somehow makes the scene more desperate, the attack more horrific and Chun-Li's plight more affecting.
It's a very interesting piece of pop culture at the very least and a treat for nostalgic game players. It is a fun well executed feature that I think will please more anime fans than disappoint them.