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Street Fighter In Other Media

Femi Famutimi
48 min

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Street Fighter In Other Media
Street Fighter has come a long way since the late 80s and in this piece we'll look at all the types of Street Fighter media and their impact
Street Fighter in other Media | DashFight
Street Fighter in other Media | Part 2 | DashFight

Video games are such a beloved medium of entertainment all over the world that people do not seem to be able to help themselves and always want more of it. Fighting games, in particular, need these mediums as they help to expand the universe and add more flesh to the story. Since fighting game stories are sometimes harder to tell in-game, other media forms such as movies, series and comics are an awesome way to pull people deeper into the world of the games.

Street Fighter being one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, is no exception, and fans of the story want to know more about their favorite characters like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li. So for this article, we’ll be exploring the world of Street Fighter media and looking at what it has added to the game. Fighting game media is always divisive, and we have the good, the bad, and the ugly, but they all come together to form an imperfect but familiar tapestry for the games we love. 

Street Fighter Movies

Okay, let’s start with the Street Fighter movies. Look, let’s face it, video game movies are notoriously a slug to get through, and a lot of the movies we’ll be looking at are like that, but Street Fighter being such a beloved series allows fans to look past some of the flaws. The first movie we got was Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, which was released in August 1994. This followed the success of Street Fighter II, a game that many consider to be Capcom’s seminal work in the fighting genre. The movie was written by Kenichi Imai, directed by Gisaburō Sugii, and animated by Group TAC. It got an English dub which was produced by Manga Entertainment, who are famous for their production of the TV series, Street Fighter II V. The story itself featured all the characters in Super Street Fighter II at the time, and it follows Ryu as he aims to become stronger.

Meanwhile, Bison is on the prowl looking for strong street fighters who he can recruit to take over the world as any good villain would, and he has his eyes fixed on Ryu. To make this work, he makes use of some machines known as Monitor Cyborgs. These machines are capable of estimating the power level of any fighter they set their beady little eyes on. When Bison discovers that Ken is similar to Ryu in fighting style due to their shared past, he proceeds to capture the Hotel heir and brainwashes him. On the other side of things, Chun li and Guile, both of Interpol and the American military, band together to find Bison, whose organization, Shadaloo, has terrorized most of the world with their nefarious activities. They also go around warning people of Bison’s plans to capture fighters and turn them into fighting machines. Ryu finally finds Bison (actually more like Bison finds Ryu) and unleashes a brainwashed Ken at him. Ryu eventually gets Ken back to his senses, and the two of them battle Bison and win. They all disperse, with Ken going back to his fiancee, Eliza, and Ryu getting back on the road to travel the world. In a last twist, we find that Bison did not die in the fight against Ken and Ryu and is instead back to capture our lonely wanderer. The movie ends with Ryu tossing aside his bag and preparing to encounter the mad tyrant. 

Street Fighter II: The Animation is remembered fondly for some incredible action scenes, many of which were rotoscoped with real martial artists to create several epic moments. As a story, it is far from perfect as it dragged on for way too long and suffers from an incoherent story with many of the characters put there just to satisfy fans even when they weren’t important to the storyline. But it also holds the distinction of perhaps being the best Street Fighter animated movie ever made. It also had the infamous shower scene with Chun li. There were two versions released, with one being toned down in terms of blood, nudity, and language. There was another uncensored version released that featured the shower scene, but that aside, the fight that took place against Vega was incredible and, for the most part, as good as it got. Street Fighter II: The Animation had a huge impact on the community as it gave fans of the game a deeper understanding of the motivations behind their favorite characters’ actions. It would also be influential in the making of the Street Fighter Alpha series. For instance, the location of the fight between Ryu and Sagat at the beginning of the movie was featured as a stage in one of the Alpha games. Also, Bison’s physique in the movie, which was much beefier than his Street Fighter II appearance, was present in the Alpha games. The movie was also the first bit of media to establish the long-lasting friendship between Guile and Chun li, which has endured over the years. All in all, Street Fighter II: The Animation was a good start for the Street Fighter story, as told in other media. 

What followed was the Street Fighter movie, and boy, that was a doozie. Okay, so this movie was also released in 1994, well into the height of Street Fighter II’s popularity. It had Steven E. de Souza act as the writer and director. This was wild, seeing as it would be de Souza’s first credit as a director, but you could perhaps live with it as Souza was no novice and had written Commando and Die Hard, but things start to look a little weird when you discover that the producer, Edward Pressman said that de Souza could only be the movie’s director if he could write the script in one day as he had a meeting with Capcom execs the next day……… So, the Street Fighter movie is the result of less than 24 hours' worth of writing. De Souza, the champ that he was, got it done, and Capcom execs were happy with it, so the movie was greenlit. Now, is the rushed writing enough to make a bad movie? No, not even a little bit. But, I can’t help considering the script of the Super Mario Bros movie, which was also rushed. Anyhoo, the next problem was casting. See, de Souza really wanted Van Damme to play Guile, and Van Damme was HUGE at this time, which meant he was also really expensive, so he cost about $8 million to get on board which was almost a quarter of the movie’s $35 million budget. They also cast the late icon, Raul Julia, to play the role. It was said that Julia only took the role because his kids were huge fans of the game. There was also Ming Na Wen playing Chun li and Kylie Minogue as Cammy, which is as much a miscasting as if you had Brad Pitt play Sagat. There was also the fact that Julia’s health was failing, and he was underweight, meaning that they had t switch around the filming schedule, doing the difficult fight choreography and stunts first before the more benign dialogue scenes. So, the stunt coordinator and martial artist director had little to no time to work with the actors. This made for some shocking fight scenes.

And how about the story? Well, it was as generic as they come. Set in the fictional South East Asian nation of Shadaloo, It followed Guile, who was the local head of something called the Allied Nations, most likely a stand-in for the United Nations. Guile was out to defeat the megalomaniac, General M. Bison, who had captured several A.N. humanitarian workers and asked for a ransom of $20 billion to release them. Guile recruited Ken and Ryu, two conmen, to infiltrate Bison’s base and find out where he was located. They did this by ingratiating themselves with one of Bison’s main henchmen, Viktor Sagat, don’t laugh; that’s really his name. However, Chun li, a news reporter, and two of her friends, E. Honda and Balrog… yes, Balrog is a good guy here, get wind of Ryu and Ken’s mission to find Bison and go ahead to go after Bison themselves since they have an axe to grind against him. They fail, and Ken and Ryu are forced to try and save them. Guile and co can find Bison thanks to tracking devices on Ken and Ryu, and they set out to begin the final showdown. Some suits try to dissuade Guile, saying that the ransom will be paid, Guile gives perhaps the most unmotivational motivational speech ever, and suddenly everyone and their mother is willing to die for him. A battle ensues, and Guile is eventually able to defeat Bison. In the end, all the protagonists stand and perform their win animation in the game as the screen fades to black.

So, that was Street Fighter, and it was released on the 23rd of December 1994. Unfortunately, Raul Julia, whom many, of which I count myself among, believe single-handedly carried the movie, died in October 1994 before the movie’s release, and the film was dedicated to him. 

People tore into the movie, and if you look up Street Fighter online, you’ll see it has an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. People were dissatisfied with the acting, casting, and lack of elements from the game. I mean, Ryu did…err…something like a hadoken. I mean, the screen flashed for like 1/10 of a second, and he did the hand movement, but that was it. Ken did a Shoryuken, which was no better than a D2 from Mortal Kombat. The only move that more or less looked like it did in the game was Guile’s flash kick which Van Damme executed to perfection.

The movie also tried to incorporate everyone from the game except Fei Long, who the producers decided was too generic, and so there is speculation that Captain Sawada, just ignore the irony, who was played by Ken Sawada, was the replacement for Fei Long. Despite all the criticism, Street Fighter was a commercial success, raking in almost $100 million worldwide and netting Capcom a tidy profit. 

It is also remembered for some iconic lines from Julia, whose turn as Bison is perhaps the greatest portrayal of a video game villain ever. 

The Street Fighter movie spawned a game called Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game which featured Mortal Kombat-like graphics and animation. There was also a proposed sequel, but that was ultimately scrapped. 

In terms of official Street Fighter live-action movies, this was as good as it got because, oh boy, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li? But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

Next was another animated movie, Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, which was released in 2000, two years after the release of Street Fighter Alpha 3. The story here followed the non-canon Alpha series, which was Street Fighter’s attempt to follow different story beats and explore new characters. Therefore, this movie didn’t really add to anything we knew of the Street Fighter lore. Furthermore, it was missing a chunk of key characters from the Street Fighter Alpha roster, like M. Bison, Blanka, Charlie, Cammy, Gen, Sagat, R. Mika, Balrog, Cody, E. Honda, Juli, Juni, and Karin. The story was not tied in any way to the Street Fighter: The Animation movie and so is a standalone. It follows Ryu, who has a chance encounter with a little boy called Shun, who claims to be his long-lost brother.

However, Shun is showing some really iffy traits, like beating enemies to pulp and trying to get people killed. Ryu isn’t doing too well himself as he struggles to put the Satsui no Hado under control. Shun is eventually kidnapped by Shadaloo agents and is taken to the base of this movie’s villain, Dr. Sadler. Ryu, along with Ken and a slew of other characters, go to retrieve Shun and fight Sadler, but not before Ryu confronts Akuma and asks if he is Shun’s father. Akuma denies it, and Ryu heads off to fight.

In the movie's final act, Dr. Sadler’s powerful mechanical soldier, Rosanov, fights against Ken, Birdie, Chun li, and Ryu. It is discovered that Rosanov is actually housing Shun who worked for Dr. Sadler all along. Ryu resorts to the power of the Satsui no Hado to defeat Rosanov and sever its ties with Shun. He now has to defeat Dr. Sadler, who has become even more powerful, and even with the power of the Satsui no Hado, Ryu is unable to defeat him. Thanks to a visit from the mysterious mystic, Rose, Ryu can find himself again and engage Dr. Sadler as his normal self, which turns out to be enough to win. Unfortunately, Shun dies but not before telling Ryu the truth about his identity. So, as it turns out, he was NOT Ryu’s brother and only took on the job for Dr. Sadler to help his father. 

While everyone else gets on with their lives, Ryu goes to fight Akuma armed with a vow never to use the Satsui no Hado again. The movie ends, once again, with Ryu gearing up for a fight. The movie wasn’t particularly well received, and it was followed by another Alpha movie called Street Fighter Alpha: Generations which was within the same Alpha world of Street Fighter but wasn’t affiliated with the former Alpha movie in terms of plot. The movie was essentially a 50-minute action romp pitting Ryu against Akuma, who was called Gouki in both the English and Japanese versions of the movie. Ryu was out for revenge because Akuma, yes, I’m sticking with Akuma, killed both his master, Gouken, and his master’s master? Err….yeah, the dude that trained both Akuma and Gouken. This was Goutetsu…I think I see why he was called Gouki here. Well, it did have its moments, and the animation was pretty decent. It was released in 2005, right smack in the middle of the Street Fighter game drought. It might not have been a memorable movie, but it did help maintain interest in Capcom’s franchise while fans waited with bated breath for a new Street Fighter game. 

It would eventually come as, on that fateful day in 2007, it was announced that Street Fighter IV was in development. The game was released in 2008, and it not only revitalized the fighting game genre but it also supercharged the FGC. By 2009, there was another animated movie, Street Fighter IV: Ties that Bind which, like the other stories before it, looked to give some flesh to the Street Fighter lore. It was a decent movie, but we won’t be going into it in this video because, guys, it is time. Remember how I said that while the Street Fighter movie from the 90s wasn’t good, it was still considered the best official Street Fighter movie? Well, it is now time to talk about the other Street Fighter movie. It is time to talk about the trainwreck that was Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

So, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li was supposed to be Capcom’s attempt at a more grounded telling of their tale. The idea was to tell a story from a character’s perspective, making it a character study of sorts. It was set before the events of the mainline Street Fighter series and was supposed to be a compelling drama. Capcom worked together with Hyde Park Entertainment to produce the film and hired Andrzej Bartkowiak to direct the movie. Bartkowiak’s film credits include Doom, Romeo must die, and Cradle 2 the Grave

They also hired a total rookie in Justin Marks, who was writing his first major film script to work on the movie. There was a budget of $50 million for the movie, and there was an interesting cast. So, we had Kristen Kreuk, who is best known for her work in Smallville, play the role of Chun Li. Kreuk actually left Smallville, a show that, despite its critics, has a very steady fan base for this movie. This was supposed to be her big break, needless to say, that did not go according to plan. They also got Neal McDonough, a man I do not think has ever played a non-villainous role, to step into the shoes of Bison, who the late Raul Julia so splendidly played.

Now, I think Neal McDonough is a great villain normally, but the choice to make him play the role of a Thai general seemed a bit odd. He does not remotely look like a Bison. They also got Black Eyed Peas member, Taboo to play Vega, and that was another weird casting choice that makes little sense. There was Chris Klein, who is best known for his role in American Pie cast to play Nash. Finally, they initially got Rick Yune to play the role of Gen, but he left the project and was replaced by Robin Shou. Yes, guys, Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat Annihilation was Chun Li’s master, Gen. It was even revealed that they wanted to get Van Damme back as Guile, but he turned them down. 

So, they had all the ingredients, it was now time to make a movie, and make a movie they did, only it was not a very good movie. The plot was paper thin. Chun li trained to be a concert pianist as a kid and learned martial arts from her father, but he was taken away from her by Bison and his goons. She grows up, is given a scroll which sets her off on a mission to find her father.

She meets Gen, learns how to fight, and also gets information about who and where Bison is. After some initial back and forth and shenanigans, she is captured by Bison and reunited with her father. The reunion doesn’t last long as Bison kills her father in front of her and proceeds to carry out whatever nefarious plan he had in mind. With Gen's help, she fights back and takes Bison’s daughter, Rose, to safety. She is eventually able to get the upper hand on Bison and kills him. Once everything is over, she returns to Hong Kong and is shown a flier of a tournament and some guy named Ryu who is going to be competing in it. She declines the offer to check out the tournament claiming that she is now home.

Oh, I totally forgot about Charlie Nash and Maya, two Interpol agents who are also after Bison because… err… bad guy. Look, it was a messy plot with vague character motivations, and it tried to take itself too seriously. It seemed they were going for a more grounded Street Fighter movie with no mystical or supernatural elements, but it was just plain boring. 

It bombed at the box office, only recouping $12.8 million out of the $50 million outlay, and it sits with a 3% rotten tomatoes score. Critics have bashed it left and right, with one of the most prominent being its lack of faithfulness to the source material. This was particularly problematic as it seems that if they had gone with something closer to the source material, it could have been somewhat better. For instance, Chun li as an Interpol agent rather than a concert pianist, would have made way more sense considering the things she was able to do, like beating a group of men and being able to handle violence with no problem. Bison, as a power-hungry Thai dictator, would have made more sense than the story we got here, which was that he was the son of Irish missionaries who then grew this evil streak that made him the man he is today. That was as vague as they come. And how about Charlie as an Interpol agent as opposed to a military operative? It didn’t go well, and Chris Klein’s acting DID NOT HELP! We got gems like this (0:06) and this (0:40-0:50). We can go on and on about how Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li,  but we’ll be here all day. The first Street Fighter movie was bad, but it was at least campy and looked like the creators and actors cared; Legend of Chun Li was soulless, and I think that was ultimately the problem. It didn’t feel like anyone making it really cared about Street Fighter. Raul Julia’s turn as Bison was memorable, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that he ultimately did it for his kids, who were big fans of Street Fighter. I wonder if anyone on the set of Legend of Chun Li felt that way. The movie did so badly that Capcom immediately scrapped plans for a sequel and considered blocking every other attempt to make a live-action movie from their property. However, a former Business developer at Capcom said in an interview that the company is still open to making another movie. He also said that the movie was a colossal failure partly because of the direction it took to. He also mentioned how there were conflicting ideas as to how the movie should be made. The Legend of Chun Li was the last big-budget Street Fighter movie made, but with the relative success of the latest Mortal Kombat movie and impressive technological advancement, there is some hope that we can get a Street Fighter movie that is more faithful to the source material with great effects to bring our favorite characters to life. 

Normally, that would be the end of our discussion on the movies attached to Street Fighter, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the efforts of fans, many of whom have made some really great pieces of art surrounding this fighting game. We can get into all of them, but I’d like to highlight two that I thought were pretty good.

Balrog: Behind the Glory, and Matador. Both movies are short films that were screened at Evo. Balrog: Behind the Glory was shown to audiences at Evo 2011, with Matador showing up three years later in 2014. Both films were produced by ChubbyBoyFilms and focused on Bison’s henchmen: Boxer and Claw.

Behind the Glory was an intimate look into the life of Boxer, who was called Bison in this movie as originally intended in Japan. The movie, or rather, mockumentary, followed Boxer’s life which was narrated by those who knew him best. The movie producers also had the genius idea of explaining how Boxer got to be called Balrog instead of Bison. Apparently, Claw and Dictator were gambling men, and Boxer, who won a poker game against them, stated that his condition was that they swapped names around. So, he was Balrog, Claw became Vega and Dictator became Bison. But, the most significant talking point has to be the acting of Floyd Foster Jr., who played Boxer’s father. He took the role so seriously that it elevated the entire film. Watching him talk fondly about who we all know as the loud-talking, brash and abrasive boxer lent a humanity and further personality to Boxer. It made us remember that, after all, he was someone’s son. Someone who loved him very much. Going by the reception, the film received at Evo and the comments under the video, people loved it as it painted a portrait of some of our favorite characters in a way that no live-action movie so far has been able to. It also proved that you could tell a Street Fighter story without the bombastic elements successfully. 

The second movie was Matador. This film follows Claw and the traumatic childhood that led him to become the sadistic killer that he is now. This was also well-received by audiences and fans. Unfortunately, it seems ChubbyBoyFilms isn’t around anymore, which is a shame considering how well-made the fan-made films are. 

So that's it with the Street Fighter movies, how did they do with the series?

Street Fighter Series

Let's start with Street Fighter II V

Also known as Street Fighter II Voyage, this was an animated series that aired in Japan in 1995. It also produced two dubbed versions, one of which was marketed in North America in 1996, and the other was sold in the UK market in 1997. It followed Ryu and Ken as they traveled the world in a bid to become the strongest fighters. 

The show was directed by Gisaburo Sugii, who was also at the helm of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, which we have discussed previously. It was loosely based on Super Street Fighter II turbo, which had been released in 1994. The show also involved Takashi Nishiyama, who was instrumental in the creation of Street Fighter’s story. 

Technically speaking, this is an anime, but considering that anime can broadly be categorized as a series, that is why it is being treated here. SF II V as mentioned earlier only loosely followed the story of the game, and there were various differences between the characters as we know them and how they were portrayed in the series. The most obvious difference was in the character of Ryu. Ryu’s design in this anime is weird and more like an SNK protagonist than Capcom’s most popular character. He’s without his iconic headband, and it does not feature in any of the 29 episodes this show has. Also, Ryu’s spiky hair is uncharacteristic along with his personality, which was a departure from his more stoic nature. Here, he was a simple-minded kid who showed a lot of enthusiasm and was always on the hunt for a good challenge. There was also a hint of impulsiveness, which is something more akin to what Ken would do. 

Ryu was not the only one to see a different design and even backstory as characters like Chun li looked a little different. From a story perspective, we saw a few huge differences from the game like the fact that here, Vega is not affiliated with Shadaloo at all, but is simply a bull-fighter with a love for all things beautiful. Also, Balrog was a dirty Interpol agent who was in league with Bison. Chun li’s father who has barely been seen in the Street Fighter lore and generally just serves as motivation and fuel for Chun li’s character, was a prominent player in this show. His name is Dorai, and he is one of the top men in Interpol. He also, rather nicely, doesn’t die this time which is a nice change from what we have come to expect from a Chun li storyline.

There were even more changes, including Sagat, who did not have an eyepatch in this show. There were some really interesting choices in this show like how they kept Fei Long’s story as a Johnny Cage-like movie star, but now he has a pompadour and is a student of Dorai or how Dhalsim doesn’t have his signature skull necklace. 

Let’s also not forget to add Charlie Nash. Yeah, him…you remember Charlie Nash? Well, in this show, he looked like this! If you don’t recognize who that is, don’t worry; neither did I. But there was a reasonable explanation for this. You see, Street Fighter II V was released in 1994, and Street Fighter Alpha which was Nash’s first appearance in the game, would come out a year later. So, it would seem that his design wasn't ready yet or something. Imagine if this was the Nash we got. Who knows? I can see how it could work.

Anyway, all in all, Street Fighter II V was a good time, and it is certainly one of the better adaptations of Street Fighter once you can get past the liberties taken with the story, you will find a nice Street Fighter tale that tried to do something fun with the IP. 

Also, did I mention Akuma just randomly appeared in like 11 episodes without really doing anything? With so many cameos, you would think he’d be brought into the story somehow, but this never happens, and it’s a little weird. However, considering how the story was meddled with, it would have been interesting to see what they did with Akuma’s story. Would they have made him Ryu’s father? Or some vengeful former student of Gouken? I guess we’ll never know. And finally, I promise, T. Hawk appeared in the opening credits but was not in the show in any capacity. All this suggests that there was a season two on the cards, and for some reason, it never came to fruition. 

Instead, we got the second series we’ll be talking about, and that is Street Fighter: The Animated Series. The Street Fighter Animated series aired between 1995 and 1997 with two 13-episode seasons to make a total of 26 episodes. 

It followed Guile and many of the characters from the Street Fighter universe as they fought against the forces of Shadaloo, which was a criminal organization headed by Bison. Like most cartoons of the 90s, Street Fighter had a Transformers-esque or G.I. Joe aesthetic which was really popular back in the day, and most of the episodes were self-contained, meaning that there were very few arcs. 

The show stayed mostly true to Street Fighter lore but also took elements from the 1994 Street Fighter movie that starred Van Damme. Most prominent of these loans was having Guile as the main protagonist of the show, and he led a team of ‘Street Fighters’ to fight against Bison. So, the Street Fighters, who consisted of Ryu, Ken, E. Honda, Chun li and Cammy, were the good guys and were described as a team of crime fighters. I mean, just look at this opening

Street Fighter opener

Isn’t this the most 90s cartoon thing you have seen?

Anyway, the story had some differences from the game, like the difference in occupation for Chun li and the fact that somehow E. Honda is a tech whiz. 

The show was not as well-regarded as Street Fighter II V, and after its two-season run, it ended without much fanfare. 

It did spawn some interesting moments like the ‘Yes, Yes’ meme (here), which was just funny to watch. It also featured characters from other games like Final Fight. In episode 25, Guy, Cody, and Haggar all appeared in the cartoon as they teamed up with the Street Fighters to battle the Mad Gear gang. There was even a crossover event from episode 22 that involved other titles on the USA "Action Extreme Team" block including Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Savage Dragon, and Wing Commander Academy, although none of the characters actually got to meet each other but were instead connected by a common event. So for those who have been hoping for Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat crossover, here you go, you’re welcome. 

In hindsight, Street Fighter: The Animated Series was a fun time for kids, but ultimately falls short as a good adaptation for any true fan as there’s just too much that doesn’t tally with people’s understanding of the game. 

If you ask me, the best content around games is always made by passionate fans, and when such fans are given the right resources and are allowed to follow their vision, we get…

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist

In the talk of all the adaptations for such a beloved franchise as Street Fighter, Assassin’s Fist will perhaps be remembered as the best one. Assassin’s fist was a 12-episode English TV and web series that followed Ken and Ryu as they trained with their master, Gouken, and unraveled the secrets of his past. 

Assassin’s Fist was spearheaded by Joey Ansah and Christian Howard, who played Akuma and Ken, respectively, and as fans of the game, they put in a lot of heart which made the show a great success. 

Perhaps pissed off at the train wreck that was Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. Ansah and Howard got together and wrote a short film featuring Ryu and Ken which was called Street Fighter: Legacy. The film was released on YouTube in 2010, and it received such positive reviews that the filmmakers had the confidence to move forward with something more fleshed out and concrete. 

Street Fighter Legacy was about four minutes long and featured a fight between Ryu and Ken. The fight was beautifully choreographed, and the use of special moves was well-done. It starred John Foo as Ryu and Christian Howard, who would reprise his role later as Ken

Capcom even gave the series its blessing stating at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con that the project had been given the go-ahead. The producers initially planned to make a series that would follow the lore of Street Fighter II: World Warrior but decided to put that on ice and use it for a bigger budget sequel. Instead, they opted to tell a more intimate story that followed the main protagonists of the game and helped give their characters deeper meaning. 

From the setting and how the story was told, you can clearly see the influence of the 2005 movie, Street Fighter Alpha: Generations with the addition of Gouken, Gouki, Goutetsu, and Sayaka.

So let's talk about the story a bit, so consider this your spoiler warning. If you want to watch Assassin’s Fist, you can find it easily on YouTube.

Okay, for everyone still reading, here we go. The story starts with Gouken teaching Ken and Ryu the art of Ansatsuken, but Ken is getting impatient as he wants to learn something cool. He considers leaving the dojo to go back home to America. Ryu is able to convince him to give it some more time. Later, Gouken has them meet him at his childhood dojo and there he taught them the primary moves of Ansatsuken. While there, Ken discovers a room and some secret art of Ansatsuken stored in some writings. When he starts lagging in training, he tries what he learned from the writings, which turns out to be Satsui no Hado, a style of Ansatsuken practiced by Akuma, who was called Gouki in this series. Gouken dissuades Ken from using this style, and we get a peek into Gouken’s past where he and his brother, Gouki, orphans who lost their parents, were being taught by Ansatsuken master, Goutetsu. It soon became clear that Gouki was power-hungry and would stop at nothing to obtain the power Satsui no Hado. We get to see a love triangle between Gouken, Gouki, and Sayaka, Goutetsu’s niece. 

One of the impressive things about Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist, was its ability to seamlessly tell two tales while keeping audience engagement high. Gouki would leave the dojo to find his own path and would later return to challenge Goutetsu in combat. We find out the horrifying truth about Ansatsuken: only one person can be its master at a time, which means that by teaching Gouki and Gouken, Goutetsu was inadvertently pitting the brothers against one another. This is what truly drives Gouki away, and after years of training, he came back to kill Goutetsu and claim the title of the Ansatsuken master. Gouki’s action brings nothing but grief to Sayaka and Gouken, with the former even going as far as to run away from Gouken, abandoning him in the empty dojo. There are some rumors that Sayaka could be Ryu’s mother, but this is not canon, and there is really no evidence or basis for this. 

In the present timeline, we find that Ryu, who we saw through the help of flashbacks, endured a difficult childhood, is now being influenced by the power of Satsui no Hado. He and Ken approach the end of their training with Gouken and they have one final test. This test puts them against each other, and they fight. Ken wins eventually, but Ryu is taken over by Satsui no Hado. Ken is only able to knock him out with a fiery dragon punch. Ryu recovers, and it is time for the duo to leave the dojo and embark on their warrior’s journey. All the shenanigans at the dojo have attracted Gouki, who has now fully embraced the dark side. The series ends with Gouki challenging Gouken to a fight to the death. It seems these Street Fighter movies have a thing for ending on cliffhangers. 

There’s a post-credit scene that shows Ken and Ryu arriving in the United States, where we expected that their adventures would continue.

The movie was shot primarily in Bulgaria, and the use of Japanese in the storytelling was an added bonus that enhanced the richness of the experience.

As for the cast, Christian Howard and Joey Ansah returned as Ken and Akuma, while John Foo was replaced as Ryu by Mike Moh. Akira Koieyama played Gouken, and Togo Igawa played Gotetsu. Korean actress Hyunri played Sayaka, and we even got a guest appearance by the legendary Yoshinori Ono, who played a fight promoter in the show. 

Filming started in April 2013 and was wrapped up in August of the same year, and it was released via Machinima on YouTube in May 2014. This was followed by releases by Funimation and several other production companies in various regions. 

The show was wildly successful and was praised for great acting, very decent production quality, and the story, which stayed true to Street Fighter.

Assassin’s Fist was heartwarming in its portrayal of Ken and Ryu and their friendship/rivalry, which has always been the driving force for their story, and the care taken to really flesh out Gouken and Gouki’s story brought so much to the game’s lore.

The series was made on a meager $2.5 million budget, but they were able to create some real magic with even that.  There is one scene that requires some talking about, and for me, it was the highest point of the entire show. This was the fight scene between Gouki and Goutetsu. In the scene, Goutetsu attempts to throw a Metsu Hadoken, and using the power of the Raging Demon, Gouki counters, finishing off the fight and claiming victory.


Akuma vs Goutetsu

Sure, it wasn’t the greatest piece of special effects we had seen, but the use of the raging demon’s sound effect, the movement of Gouki, and the clear amount of work and love given to that scene deserve mention. 

Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist would be followed by Street Fighter: Resurrection. Initially, the showrunners wanted something that followed the Street Fighter II storyline, which would have been called Street Fighter: World Warrior. The new story would have continued to follow Ryu and Ken and would have introduced Guile, Chun-Li, Bison, and some of the other characters we all know and love, but it was not to be. Joey Ansah, who had been the creative head behind Assassin’s Fist wrote an open letter to fans in 2020, confiding in them about some of the troubles the proposed sequel faced. He explained that the massive budget, working with big studios, which can be a hassle to partner with, especially if you want to keep a story a certain way, and a small window before the right obtained from Capcom would elapse all contributed to the failure to produce the sequel. Instead, in 2016, we got Resurrection which took place 10 years after Assassin’s Fist and featured Nash and Decapre. There were only four episodes, and it was made with Street Fighter V’s upcoming release in mind. 

Sadly there was no Street Fighter: World Warrior, and while all hope is not lost that the series could still come to the small screen, it looks increasingly unlikely. 

Street Fighter Comics and Manga

So, that’s about it about Street Fighter series, let’s now talk about the very weird world of the Street Fighter comics. 

Okay, so maybe I was being a bit dramatic back there. There have been several Street Fighter comics, and many of them have been pretty cool. There are the Udon comics, who have generally been Capcom’s go-to guys for Street Fighter comics. Udon has done a number of series on Street Fighter, many of which closely followed the lore with very few variations. The first set of Street Fighter comics was released between 2003-2005, and there were 13 issues. The plot followed Ryu, who upon discovering his master, Gouken, dead in his dojo, goes to the United States to find Ken and tell him the tragic news while looking for the killer. Meanwhile, Guile and Chun Li are on the hunt to capture Bison for what he did to them. For Guile, it was the death of Charlie, and for Chun Li it was the murder of her father. The Udon comics had some of the most talented artists working on it, including Alvin Lee, Edwin Huang, and Arnold Tsang. It was followed by Street Fighter II and later Street Fighter II Turbo, which followed the World Warrior storyline where Ryu and the rest of the Street Fighter cast compete in a fighting tournament with the finalist pitted against Bison. Then came Street Fighter IV, which followed the story after Bison’s apparent demise and went on to put some meat of the bones of the S.I.N storyline and how Seth became what it did. We also got some new characters, including C. Viper and Abel. Next was Super Street Fighter, and finally, Street Fighter Unlimited. In the middle of all this were some of the special editions which helped in understanding the story further. They were called Street Fighter Legends, and four issues were released, each focusing on a different female character. The first one was about Sakura and how she got to meet R. Mika and grow stronger after parting with Ryu. The second was about Chun Li, the third, Ibuki, and finally Cammy. These issues were tied to the main story and could be read with the main narrative to gain a deeper knowledge of the lore. 

There wasn’t any Street Fighter V comic, but, we will be getting one for Street Fighter 6 as Udon announced in a tweet from November 2022, which they say will heavily feature Luke and will be an indicator of where the Street Fighter lore is headed. The Udon Street Fighter comics are a great resource for stories and great art. But they are not the only Street Fighter comic made. There was another made back in 1993 that was such a disaster, it was canceled after three issues. I am, of course, talking about the crazy, insane, ridiculousness that was the Street Fighter Malibu comics. Malibu was an American company founded in 1986 that made comics most notably their Ultraverse superheroes. In the early 90s, they somehow got the rights to Street Fighter, and they made a comic that was to compliment the SFII game, which had come out in 1991. The Malibu comics were terrible, but you could understand the difficulty for them as Street Fighter did not have much of a story at this point. So, what happened in the comics? Well, it starts with the iconic Ryu v Sagat fight, and Ryu unleashes his Shoryuken, scarring Sagat. However, it turns out that this isn’t live and Sagat is watching it on a screen which he then angrily destroys and discards before getting into a needless fight with Balrog who seemed to be taunting him. Then Bison comes in and berates the two men and tells them about how they must destroy Ryu…why? Well, because….

 Eventually, they decide to use Ken to get to Ryu and so they attack Ken while he’s with Chun Li. They fight and get this….Sagat KILLS Ken and then sends his scalp to Ryu. Child friendly, this comic was not. Edgy? Definitely. The entire cast of Street Fighter mourns Ken’s death with the news affecting different characters in different ways. At this point, Capcom were done with Malibu’s comic and asked that they stop production. So, we only got three issues.

There’s a lot we could say about the Malibu Street Fighter comics, but we’ll keep it to these two: The art was bad, and the story was unnecessarily edgy. This might have been a symptom of the times as the 90s were the era we got the really bloody and edgy comics, but looking back at it now, it is safe to say that it did not age well.

What else is there to talk about? There was a Street Fighter Zero 3 comic from Brazil, and a bunch of crossovers, including one with SNK characters and even one with Mega man and Sonic

As for mangas, Street Fighter had a couple. The most popular was Masahiko Nakahira’s series which consisted of Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter: Sakura Ganbaru in 1997, Street Fighter III: Ryu Final, and Super Street Fighter II: Cammy. The Street Fighter stories focused on Ryu and his battle with his dark side while Sakura Ganbaru and Cammy focused on the titular heroes. Nakahira’s manga were beautiful and told a great story and we got some incredible fight scenes like this one from Ryu and Akuma’s showdown. Nakahira’s stories were pretty important as they were instrumental in introducing some characters into the mainline Street Fighter games. For instance, Karin first appeared in Sakura Ganbaru, and Evil Ryu was first featured in Street Fighter Alpha

There was another manga made by Masaomi Kanzaki called Street Fighter II, which ran between 1993 and 1994. As discussed with the Malibu comics, the lack of Street Fighter lore at the time forced the creators to go another way. For Kanzaki, this meant creating an island called SHAD, which had been abandoned and was now taken over by Bison, who instituted illegal fighting tournaments. This was the first comic that introduced Gouken as a visible character which was great to see. The art here is also pretty good, and there were two glorious volumes. However, the third volume suffered a drop in quality, and we got another generic clone story. 

Honestly, it is impossible to highlight each and every single piece of Street Fighter media out there, but I think we’ve done our best to shine a light on the most important ones. What is your favorite piece of Street Fighter media?

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