Given the sort of “cult” popularity of martial arts films, not to mention the specific following that “Mortal Kombat” has gained over the years, it seems somewhat-surprising that the “Street Fighter” video games never inspired a successful film adaptation. Steven E. de Souza’s “Street Fighter” (1994) was an exciting idea but ultimately an uninteresting project, and 2009’s “Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li” was abysmal. A Paste Magazine review went so far as to call it “singularly witless.” Neither film did justice to what can truthfully be called one of the most enduring gaming franchises of all time.
And yet, it felt like a more successful live action adaptation had to be on the way, because the Street Fighter gaming franchise isn’t anywhere near done. Just recently, it was announced that Sony and Capcom were teaming up to release a long-awaited “Street Fighter V” game for Playstation 4 and PC. While legions of fans were no doubt disappointed that the game won’t be available for Xbox or Nintendo users, the game itself is still an extremely exciting announcement. A gameplay trailer at Gamespot revealed a dizzying and beautiful fight sequence between classic characters Ryu and Chun-Li that, while perhaps missing some of the simple charms of the older games, will certainly have fans wanting to see more of what the game will offer.
There have also been some smaller “Street Fighter” games in recent years that have kept the franchise fresh. “Street Fighter II,” arguably the most popular game in the history of the series, has in recent years been used as the foundation for a very different kind of title. It’s actually been transformed into an online slot machine that uses icons, art, and music reminiscent of the arcade games. It’s available to play on InterCasino, where they describe the game as bringing the Street Fighters to life in an “electrifying match-up.” While this may sound like dramatic language for a slot machine game, it’s actually not too far off. It’s an exciting twist on a popular modern gaming format that can often be somewhat dull.
Meanwhile, “Street Fighter” has also branched out to another widespread modern gaming audience in the form of mobile device users. The “Street Fighter IV” app actually does a pretty impressive job of bringing a classic arcade fighter format to a touchscreen (and there are a few Street Fighter-Tekken crossovers that aren’t half bad either).
With all of this modern-gaming action being released, another attempt at a live action Street Fighter was pretty much inevitable. Unbeknownst to many, one was actually released this year, albeit in an unusual format. Following up on what seems to have been a personal dream of sorts, actor/writer/martial artist (and in this case director and producer) Joey Ansah decided to put together a “Street Fighter” episodic series for release on YouTube. The series was called “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist,” and it was actually pretty decent!
Starring Akira Koieyama, Mike Moh, and Christian Howard as Gouken, Ryu, and Ken, respectively, the series did an admirable job of taking a more careful and thoughtful approach than past Street Fighter films. To be clear, it lacks the seasoned acting and big-budget production value that many fans want to see in a major cinematic adaptation, but in some ways that might actually be for the best.
What Moh and Howard lack as actors they make up for with genuine martial arts prowess, which helps to bring the characters to life. Similarly, without a great deal of focus on mind-blowing locations and special effects, the show’s creators apparently focused on getting right whatever they could. The result is that Ryu and Ken look like Ryu and Ken. Also, instead of devolving into a disoriented series of match-ups between characters in an attempt to bring the games to life, the show is narrowed down to a background exploration of the franchise’s main characters.
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