The 1994 Street Fighter movie is actually good, and yes, I want to argue about that
“Street Fighter” signals its goofy satirical intentions with a “Robocop”-inspired – or is that “Citizen Kane”? – News program cheekily explaining M. Bison’s authoritarian rule over the fictional Southeast Asian nation of Shadaloo. Guile directs the also fictional Allied Nations campaign against Bison’s illegitimate takeover, and is so committed to his righteous cause that he commands a cable news camera to engage in a technically unlikely back-and-forth with the despot.
This is the moment when you have to make a decision: this is either appallingly unrealistic or incredibly stupid.
Sitting in a theater in Toledo, Ohio on opening night, I happily bought in. The frivolous demeanor of de Souza’s most memorable protagonists – Reggie Hammond, John Matrix and John McClane – now defined an entire production. He gave due respect to his job of winking at his audience: This is a film based on a video game and he would not give this film a single second of dramatic seriousness. And he would use one of the greatest actors in the world to boldly underscore the sheer ridiculousness of this endeavor.
De Souza reportedly made “Street Fighter” under pressure, and with a budget of $35 million siphoned off Van Damme’s $8 million salary. This explains the film’s oddly small scale, but excessive production value would have diminished its cheesy charm.