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March 11, 2014 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Street Fighter: The Movie -- What Went Wrong (via)
posted by davidjmcgee (118 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
There wasn't a single thing that went right with that movie. Counting what went wrong is just an exercise in madness, every square inch of every frame is wrong. Every new wrong you uncover will only reveal a new dimension of wrongs beneath it. It is the howling void.
posted by mediocre at 3:21 PM on March 11 [13 favorites]


Uh...they made a movie based on a fighting game?
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 3:22 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


For the people who aren't going to bother to read the article, here's the screenwriting pedigree of the guy who directed it (which, alone, yeah, probably not a great idea but bear with me):
Most screenwriters can't land one blockbuster; he had a baker's dozen to his name, including Commando, The Running Man, 48 Hours, Another 48 Hours and Die Hard 1 and 2.
This movie had a lot of potential to be very good, but it wasn't, and it's sort of heartbreaking considering that almost everyone involved with the actual production -- especially the at death's door Raul Julia -- was trying their best to make a decent movie.

A lot of different factors: tight deadlines, Capcom's interference with casting and shoot schedule, Hasbro's interference with props, inexperience of the constantly-rotating cast and crew, Raul Julia's cancer, Jean Claude van Damme's cocaine problem and diva behavior, basically guaranteed a flop.

There's a telling quote from somewhere in the middle that really summarizes the whole article:
According to those interviewed for this piece, mini catastrophes and major hijinks played out like a B-movie parody of Heart of Darkness, albeit an incredibly dark one.
This wasn't destined to be a piece of shit out of the gate, but goddamn if it didn't end up one of the bigger turds.
posted by griphus at 3:28 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


For you, Street Fighter was the worst move you'd ever seen in your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:29 PM on March 11 [27 favorites]


(Also, Polygon has been killing it with a spate of recent fight game/Capcom/Street Fighter-related articles. Anyone have any idea why the pattern?)
posted by griphus at 3:31 PM on March 11


I thought this was in reference to the animated movie, which I watched many times in college (it's on youtube, although not with English subtitles or dubbing). I don't even recall the live action movie being made.
posted by MillMan at 3:42 PM on March 11


Wow they faced a perfect storm of incompetence, illness, drugs and meddling. Honestly there's so many things that can make a movie go wrong that it's amazing any every go right.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:52 PM on March 11


Uh...they made a movie based on a fighting game?

There's also Mortal Kombat, which is terrible except for its ridiculously catchy theme song.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:57 PM on March 11


It's really an impressively hair-tearing narrative. I'd always sort of written the film off as terrible as a result of just being poorly conceived—it's not exactly difficult to look at the concept and (especially with a passing familiarity with the game) the casting and assume this had been created by three distracted execs and a dartboard—but it's actually a lot more interesting of a failure in light of the ways it legitimately could have been a decent dumb action flick if half the things that went badly wrong had gone right instead.

It's still so weird to me that this was Julia's last film, but I remember reading a bit of something about him going into it with his eyes open as a way to make sure his family was more financially secure when he already knew he was seriously ill and likely not to live much longer.
posted by cortex at 3:58 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


I'd not call the original Mortal Kombat a cinematic masterpiece, but I don't think it is terrible on the same level as the Street Fighter movie. Your mileage may vary however.
posted by Twain Device at 4:01 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Sounds like a microcosm for life: great potential stymied by various interests meddling, you do your best and pull a rabbit out of your hat and people spit in your face because it wasn't a lion..
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:02 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Street Fighter wasn't even the worst movie based on a video game. For that, you can dig through Uwe Boll's lifetime achievement award in the field.

Now, Street Fighter: The Movie: The Video Game, in both its incarnations? Those might be the worst video games based on a movie based on a video game.
posted by delfin at 4:09 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The movie did give us this moment, which sort of makes up for it.
posted by mediocre at 4:10 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what I recall of Mortal Kombat was that it seemed as competently constructed as you could really hope for something that was willing to be a blatant merchandising cash-in movie. Accepting the inevitably farcical and hobbled nature of any film trying to be faithful to the material when the material is a nigh-plotless arcade game about costumed caricatures repeatedly getting in kickboxing fights and shouting catchphrases, it was, uh, cohesive?
posted by cortex at 4:12 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


If you'd like to read a book length treatment of this sort of thing, I recommend The Devil's Candy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:15 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


griphus, maybe we should do a podcast episode about SF and MK
posted by cortex at 4:17 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


If you want real crap, try the second Mortal Kombat movie. I liked the first one, but boy the second one reeked.

Most of the actors from the first movie refused to come back. I have to say that second Sonya Blade was a lot better than the first one, but besides her there wasn't anything in the second movie that was any good at all.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:19 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Some may point to Super Mario Bros. as a worse game-to-movie translation.

I disagree, as it brought the world this.
posted by delfin at 4:32 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


...try the second Mortal Kombat movie.

I had just turned 13 when Mortal Kombat: Annihilation came out and my mom gave me a few bucks to go spend the beautiful fall Saturday afternoon staring at a larger screen under someone else's roof and/or get some exercise on the solid mile walk back and forth.

It turned into the first time I purposefully cursed in front of my mother:
"How was the movie?"
"It was shit."

I would be totally cool with an SF/MK episode.
posted by griphus at 4:33 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that this was Raul Julia's last film.
posted by Catblack at 4:34 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The movie did give us this moment, which sort of makes up for it.

What I love about Street Fighter: The Movie is that a clip from it with this description and the title Greatest Moment in Cinematic History could still be any number of scenes. I was expecting this monologue, JCVD struggling through his lines in the big Guile and M. Bison fight, the excellent Tuesday line linked upthread, or pretty much anything with Zangief. The movie's totally worth watching, even if 2/3 of the cast, including Ryu and Ken, are instantly forgettable.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 4:37 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Zangief is a bad guy, but he's not a bad guy.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:41 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


>'m surprised that no one has mentioned that this was Raul Julia's last film.

My bad, it's mentioned in the article... I recall that my friends and I at the time were rather sad at his passing, and that this was the last we'd see of him.
posted by Catblack at 4:46 PM on March 11


cortex: "It's still so weird to me that this was Julia's last film, but I remember reading a bit of something about him going into it with his eyes open as a way to make sure his family was more financially secure when he already knew he was seriously ill and likely not to live much longer."

Raul Julia : Street Fighter :: Walter White : Blue crystal meth
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:47 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


This movie was absolutely fantastic and if you don't agree I am seriously curious as to what you thought you were going to get out of "Street Fighter: The Movie"
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 4:47 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Oops, this is the Guile and Bison fight.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 4:48 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


This movie had a lot of potential to be very good, but it wasn't, and it's sort of heartbreaking considering that almost everyone involved with the actual production -- especially the at death's door Raul Julia -- was trying their best to make a decent movie.

Raul Julia, on the other hand, was trying his best to make an awesome movie.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:50 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Has there ever been a movie based on a video game that's wasn't awful?
posted by aubilenon at 5:02 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The excellent How did this get made? podcast did an episode on Street Fighter.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:09 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I recognize that this isn't a popular opinion, but I really like the Silent Hill movie. First few Resident Evil movies weren't horrible.
posted by Twain Device at 5:09 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Silent Hill is a faboo. It's surreal and atmospheric and very well-assembled. I've never even played any of the games. That might be the ideal way to experience it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:14 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Er, yeah, very much depends on your definition of "awful," but the first Silent Hill movie is a treat.
posted by trunk muffins at 5:14 PM on March 11


That might be the ideal way to experience it.

I think maybe it would be, yeah. For me, Silent Hill is something I can't really appraise fairly as just a horror film, because I've got so much affection for the (first few) games. I remember feeling like they did a great job of capturing some of the aesthetic notes of the franchise, in terms of the VFX and sound design, but that the overall tone just felt off from the games. Too much melodrama, not enough creeping, overwhelming existential despair. Which is maybe a hard thing to translate from game to film, so what do you do. But it flopped a bit for me.

It doesn't help that the SH games use place as character a ton; the "people" you meet in the games are mostly abstract, non-verbal monsters with the occasional not-quite-right NPC to share some dialogue with, while your character does a lot of exploring (punctuated by fighting and fleeing) through a series of alternatingly abandoned and hellish places (frequently two versions of the same place presented in contrast with one another). A lot of what makes the games work is the disturbing off-kilter sense of inhabiting a ghost place, a haunted, dead town.

So moving to a pop film format where, you know, people are saying things to each other and stuff? It's tricky.

I thought the film still had a lot of pretty great atmosphere, but I wonder how I'd feel about it if that stuff had been more overwhelmingly new to me rather than just nicely translated from games that had already spooked me and then become familiar friends.

Also, anyone who really likes Silent Hill's horror aesthetic and hasn't watched Jacob's Ladder any time recently should give it another go, because it turns out it's basically the source, in key parts, of that aesthetic.
posted by cortex at 5:21 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Has there ever been a movie based on a video game that's wasn't awful?

Mortal Kombat is fine if you appreciate it on its own terms. So are Doom, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and Prince of Persia. Super Mario Bros is bad but the set design and so on is quite good. Double Dragon is an abomination, but also has absolutely beautiful sets, costumes and props.
posted by griphus at 5:22 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Also "appreciate on its own terms" applies to all of them and said terms require you to look at the original video game as a LEGO set the cast and crew lost the directions to and are assembling from memory along with a few other sets that got mixed in the box.
posted by griphus at 5:24 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Some may point to Super Mario Bros. as a worse game-to-movie translation.

SMB is a fascinating glorious smoking train wreck of a movie plus my dad is in it.
posted by The Whelk at 5:24 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


( and as pointed out, some of the fighting games have been made it solid, middle of the road Kung-fu movies.)
posted by The Whelk at 5:25 PM on March 11


plus my dad is in it

I KNEW IT, I KNEW YOU WERE BOWSER JR., YOUR STUPID PAPER MASK WASN'T FOOLING ME
posted by cortex at 5:30 PM on March 11 [19 favorites]


Super Mario Bros is just plain weird, and enjoyable on that level.

Doom is such a bizarre missed opportunity. There are... what? Three types of monsters shown? Including vanilla zombies? That film should have been a creature extravaganza.
posted by brundlefly at 5:30 PM on March 11


It's the night of the paper masks cortex
posted by The Whelk at 5:31 PM on March 11


Doom is such a bizarre missed opportunity.

Fair enough but Dwayne Johnson! Weaponized-CRT-monitor-flail! Adorably pandering FPS credit sequence!

...how the hell remember so much of a movie I haven't seen since it's theatrical release.
posted by griphus at 5:34 PM on March 11


There's also Rosamund Pike, who is entertaining to watch for, uh, reasons.
posted by brundlefly at 5:44 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Wait. They can't be talking about the movie with Van Damme in it. Because that movie was awesome. Also it managed to have a musical score that was really out of their production range.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:52 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I've read that Bob Hoskins truly despised Super Mario Brothers which surprised me because I thought he was really good in it. (He was the only thing in the movie that was any good.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:58 PM on March 11


The movie did give us this moment, which sort of makes up for it.

Did this scene foretell Operation Iraqi Freedom?
posted by Apocryphon at 5:59 PM on March 11


Was Wing Commander any good?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:05 PM on March 11


The comments on that article include a link to Street Fighter the Movie Broke My Heart, a thread with a behind the scenes look at Street Fighter The Movie: The Game (arcade version).
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:10 PM on March 11


Was Wing Commander any good?

You mean the movie where the spaceship's crew had to be quiet when the enemy was nearby because of how well sound travels in space?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:14 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


You mean the movie where the spaceship's crew had to be quiet when the enemy was nearby because of how well sound travels in space?

Everyone knows sound travels better in space, because there's no air to get in the way.
posted by Palindromedary at 6:25 PM on March 11 [11 favorites]


Hollywood Archaeology: The Super Mario Bros. Movie:
The cast was basically in revolt. The actors would shove each day’s new pages aside unread. Hoskins and Leguizamo swilled scotch together between takes, leading to an on-set accident in which Leguizamo drunkenly crashed a truck and Hoskins broke his hand.
posted by djb at 6:29 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


...because of how well sound travels in space?

I will bet you so much money that someone doing punch-up on the script watched Hunt for Red October the night before and said "eh, space, ocean, whatever, close enough."
posted by griphus at 6:31 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


(Wait, "punch-up" is when you make it funnier right? What's it called when the script is shit and someone needs to fix it on-set?)
posted by griphus at 6:35 PM on March 11


Don't forget about the Tekken movie.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:41 PM on March 11


griphus, I think that's a Script Trauma Surgeon.
posted by cortex at 6:46 PM on March 11


Was Wing Commander any good?

I actually came in here to respond to Delfin's comment about Super Mario Bros. with the assertion that Wing Commander is in fact the worst movie to ever be made from a movie. So, no?

The SMB movie is certainly terrible in that get-high-and-watch-it-to-laugh-at-it sort of way, but it's also got a lot of charm that makes it age surprisingly well. And, I mean, it gets point for such an original take on the Mushroom Kingdom.

Street Fighter: The Movie, on the other hand, is just a turd.

There was another Street Fighter movie however, which was directed by Gisaburō Sugii of the original Astro Boy. And, though it has its flaws, it's actually pretty good. And it was the original impetus for the amazing Street Fighter Alpha spinoff games.
posted by 256 at 6:47 PM on March 11


Super Mario Brothers would have been a weird and pretty mediocre but not awful movie, generally, but I somehow always assumed that the creators had never actually even turned on the game. If I hadn't gone to it expecting something like the game, at that age, I would have had fun. As it was--I dunno. An original take? Well, yes. But at some point you diverge to a point where you might as well say that the far better adaptation was Brazil, because it still involved a plumber and otherwise bore no resemblance to the games.

I've always suspected that the gloomy alternate reality they went with was because doing a lot of different, vibrant landscapes that the heroes would have to make it through to rescue a princess was going to be a lot more expensive.
posted by Sequence at 6:51 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Super Mario Bros is bad but the set design and so on is quite good.

SMB has a weird aesthetic. It's like someone took the same filter that was used to transform Ghostbusters into The Real Ghostbusters, and applied it in reverse to the Mario universe. Perhaps there's even another universe where the film is the source material that the games were adapted from.

I was in fourth grade when the movie came out, and though I was a little peeved by the liberties they had taken, I couldn't help but notice how perfectly it fit my ten-year-old's model for what a 'grown-up' Mario movie would look like.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:52 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


It would have been so easy to make a good Street Fighter, esp once JVC was involved (but Guile, really? sigh). Simply remake bloodsport with super powers. That's all. Think about it. Bloodsport achieved perfection as tournament-based fighting movie - it didn't waste time on plot, it understood that people wanted to see a variety of fights with different styles and fighters, and it had a perfunctory yet effective villain. Adding super powers to that would have made for a great movie.

Also, the casting could have been so much better. Jason Lee as Ryu for example. And Ryu and Ken are friends what the eff.

Agreed on Double Dragon. Another one I paid money at the cinema for, sigh.
posted by smoke at 7:00 PM on March 11


Alternatively, just make a Bloodsport video game please.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:09 PM on March 11


Has there ever been a movie based on a video game that's wasn't awful?

No; the stars have not yet aligned. Every time that there is something that appeals to enough young people, movie studios will try to make it into a feature film, usually with dismal results because these films get written, directed, and produced by people who are a generation away from being able to fully appreciate the new thing. Think about science fiction and about rock and roll movies in the fifties and sixties; think about comic book movies and TV in the seventies and eighties and nineties. Mostly these things were unwatchable, patronizing crap (with very occasional lucky breaks like A Hard Day's Night or Superman). Eventually all of the young audiences get disillusioned with the crap and realize, "Hey, I could do this better;" some grow up to work in media and that is when you get Star Wars and This is Spinal Tap! and Alien and Almost Famous and X-Men and The Avengers.

You haven't seen a great video game adaptation yet because the people who grew up immersed in them are just now reaching the age where they can try to instill some of their passion into film. Uwe Boll and DeSouza and others are the Ralph Bakshi of video game movies. The Peter Jackson of video game movies is probably still in film school.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:11 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


I don't know how I actually missed this movie, I mean that game was my childhood. Having said that, this 0.25 seconds of Blanka will give me nightmares tonight.

I like how the button is, "Now who wants to go home, and who wants to go with me?" I want to go home.
posted by phaedon at 7:12 PM on March 11


I just realized that Rocky IV is a pretty good Street Fighter movie.
posted by griphus at 7:17 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


> I just realized that Rocky IV is a pretty good Street Fighter movie.

"If his health bar is empty, he dies."
posted by Phssthpok at 7:23 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Good article. Never got 'round to seeing this piece of shit, even though a huge deal was made about it being filmed in Australia, back in the day.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:25 PM on March 11


guys remember when square made a final fantasy movie that was actually released into actual theatres?

Remember when that happened?
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


Tomb Raider? (Where Angelina Jolie wore falsies?)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:29 PM on March 11


guys remember when square made a final fantasy movie that was actually released into actual theatres?

Remember when that happened?


Here's a way to improve Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within:

At the very end of the movie as it stands, the song "The Dream Within" plays as a bird soars.

Instead, a close-up of the bird should have revealed that the bird itself was actually singing the song.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:35 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


How can any movie where Raul Julia proclaims that he "rides the saddle of the world" be bad?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:55 PM on March 11


Our Ship Of The Imagination!: Uh...they made a movie based on a fighting game?

Except there are a number of examples where a really basic idea blossoms into something wonderful. Right now I'm thinking of Clue, a murder mystery boardgame that was riffed on and expanded into a great film, because I saw it this past weekend. Aren't there some good, if not great, films about fighting? Why couldn't Street Fighter have been used as the starting point for those films? Don't dwell so much on the "story" in the games, and make a new story (loosely) based on the characters in the game.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:06 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


guys remember when square made a final fantasy movie that was actually released into actual theatres?

I went to that movie just to see the CGI rendering. Was not disappointed in the way they mapped every hair on someone's head in every close-up. And there was always a gentle zephyr to move the hair in just such a way to show off what they could do. Apart from that? I don't remember anything else about it.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:07 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I have a soft spot for the Street Fighter movie because it is such a disaster.
posted by codacorolla at 8:09 PM on March 11


Big Trouble in Little China is by far the best video game to movie adaptation. ...only they forgot to make the game first.

No, that was just a bad dream you had. The real game was way cooler.
posted by Anoplura at 8:22 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The FF movie wasn't based on any of the games as far as I know. The only thing they borrowed was the name.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:59 PM on March 11


I'm actually a little surprised nobody else has taken a serious swing at the reusable artificial actor thing after Final Fantasy flopped and Square's scrappy little high hopes for Aki quietly went away. They really jumped right in at the wrong time, when the best CG was still deep in the uncanny valley, but it could be pulled off now.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:04 PM on March 11


I'm actually a little surprised nobody else has taken a serious swing at the reusable artificial actor thing after Final Fantasy flopped

Beowulf
posted by 256 at 9:08 PM on March 11


Beowulf was all CG made to look like real people, yeah, but Square's deal was really trying to create a virtual actor who could be dropped into many movies. I like the idea, it feels like the kind of futurey thing that was supposed to happen after the calendar clicked 2000, and also it would open up some amazingly weird stuff where you'd start seeing people using models of existing actors in their prime and stuff like that, like Clooney v4.2 is still landing lead roles in a hundred years on his fourth voice actor.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:17 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I find it kind of fascinating that Roger Ebert gave Final Fantasy 3.5 out of 4 stars.
posted by 256 at 9:27 PM on March 11


Great, now I want to work my way through Wikipedia’s list of worst movies ever.
posted by bongo_x at 9:47 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


The FF movie wasn't based on any of the games as far as I know. The only thing they borrowed was the name.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:59 PM on March 12 [+] [!]


Well, that and the overblown sense of self-importance.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:02 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I actually watched Street Fighter: The Movie on Netflix not too long ago, mainly out of curiosity. I was surprised to recognize the actress playing Chun Li: it was Ming-Na Wen, who currently plays Melinda May on Agents of SHIELD.
posted by baf at 10:17 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


The how Did This Get Made podcast has a number of episodes about the many bad videogame-based or otherwise bad movies. Highly recommended.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:26 PM on March 11


Ebert was always a sci-fi fanboy, so that's not surprising.

The best video game movie is still Wreck-It Ralph.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:31 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Is this where I link to the Dead Or Alive trailer? That movie does accept it's pretty ridiculous and is pretty fun as a result.
posted by RobotHero at 10:43 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah you don't have a lot of good adaptations of video games cause it's kind of like adapting a tennis match to be a movie, at the best you get an excuse to do a TYPE of movie, like Mortal Kombat being "kung-fu cheese with superpowers" but you are starting to see movies that reference the look and sensation and the *feel* of playing a great game or the aesthetic. That's fine too.

I say this as someone who has *read* the Fallout movie script and thought in the hands of a team with a desert-dry sense of black humor it could be *fantastic* (There's a phonebooth sniper kill that's totally in line with the feel of the series and a wonder like first act break and I love it.)
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 PM on March 11


Tennis matches don't come with fully-realized storylines and settings and characters. Comic books can make fine film adaptations. There's gotta be another reason at work here.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:46 PM on March 11


The FF movie wasn't based on any of the games as far as I know. The only thing they borrowed was the name.

Well, that and the overblown sense of self-importance.


And a guy named Cid, who at one point, flies the other characters around in a ship.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:03 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I think there was a couple different colors of materia or something in it, wasn't there? That's final fantasy-y isn't it? (never played the games, saw the movie because one of my friends worked on it - honest to god, he did the lens flare)
posted by aubilenon at 1:03 AM on March 12


Nope, there wasn't any materia in Spirits Within. You may be thinking of Advent Children, the direct-to-video CGI continuation of the plot to Final Fantasy VII.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:49 AM on March 12


Has there ever been a video game based on a movie that wasn't awful?


...although I have heard that the Riddick game is pretty good, but I didn't play it. A lot of people like Alien vs Predator too, but I'm not sure which came first.
posted by smoothvirus at 3:53 AM on March 12


Alien vs Predator, the Rebellion original, was made in 1999. The idea of xenomorphs fighting predators is earlier - from a Dark Horse comic book license - but impressively the comic book, the game and the movie have no connecting tissue at all.

The description of Julia in that article is making me tear up a little. I can definitely imagine a situation where he took the gig to provide a nest egg for his familiy - but at the same time, he acted up a storm when it would have ben tremendously easy, looking at the shambles of the production, to have phoned it in. I can barely remember anything about the film that didn't involve Julia being awesome or van Damme being terribad.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:55 AM on March 12


I've always wondered why they didn't put more effort into the fighting in a friggin' Street Fighter movie, but now it makes total sense. And if making the rest of the movie horrible is the trade-off for Julia being hilariously crazy awesome, I wouldn't have it any other way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:04 AM on March 12


Also, Jean-Claude Van Damme explaining his affair with Kylie Minogue as "I showed her my Thailand" is profoundly weird in a way I'm not sure I have words for.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:05 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Alien vs Predator, the Rebellion original, was made in 1999.

Actually (adjusts glasses, wipes Cheetos crumbs off on shirt) Alien vs. Predator as a video game franchise dates back to 1993.
posted by griphus at 6:33 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


The only reason I saw Street Fighter in the theater was that a friend of mine really wanted to see it, and I was able to get us free admission as a theater employee. My expectations were properly calibrated going in, which I guess is why I actually remember it kind of fondly. I don't remember any particular details other than that Raul Julia was great. I can't find a concrete cite, but I have read multiple times that he took the role of Bison in large part because his kids were big fans of the game... I always thought that was so sweet.
posted by usonian at 6:45 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to pretend that this film was a 'good' movie, but I love it like goth teenagers love Rocky Horror; I've watched it like a billion times, I own it on VHS and DVD, and a promotional t-shirt.

It's interesting how 'fandom' has changed since I was younger; today if fans are unhappy with something, they can petition and tweet and change things, and if this iteration of "Spiderman" sucks, there'll be another one along in one form or another before long. I don't say that as a "kids today" thing: I think it's great. But when I was a 13 year old in love with Street Fighter, I was still living in the time when video games were considered 'juvenile' at best, 'dangerous' at worst, if they were considered at all.

I didn't care that it was corny, or that it got a lot of things wrong, I was elated that they even *tried*.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:53 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Also, the best video game / movie adaptation is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and it wasn't even based on one.

I'm sad that movie got written off as hipster ephemera, because that is EXACTLY how a video game movie should look.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:54 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


Has there ever been a video game based on a movie that wasn't awful?


...although I have heard that the Riddick game is pretty good, but I didn't play it. A lot of people like Alien vs Predator too, but I'm not sure which came first.


Spider-Man 2!
posted by jason_steakums at 7:23 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Has there ever been a video game based on a movie that wasn't awful?

Yes. Aladdin (SNES, Mega Drive), Lion King (Mega Drive), Goof Troop -honest!- (SNES) Batman (GB), Batman Returns (SNES/MD), Arkham Asylum/City, that Matrix game, a bunch of Star Wars games like X-Wing, Tie Fighter, Jedi Knight 2, Shadows of the Empire, that Age of Empires 2 reskin, KOTOR 1 & 2, the PS2 era Lord of the Rings games, various Lego games, the first Alien vs Predator, that Bruce Lee SNES game, Duck Tales and Ninja Turtles (if you'd include tv) and the Lilo & Stitch GBA game come to mind.

And spoken like someone who has never been blown up by a proximity mine, GoldenEye :)

There is a lot of licensed shovelware *cough*Samurai Jack*cough*, but there have been quite a few good licensed games. The South Park game has been reviewing well too.
posted by ersatz at 7:44 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


I'm sad that movie got written off as hipster ephemera

WHAT? Has that happened? That's such a shame. Scott Pilgrim is amazing.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:24 AM on March 12


Good list there ersatz. Though I would argue that the Batman Arkham Asylum games, which I did play, are really a canon of their own. They also have much more in common with the Batman animated series from the 1990s (same voice actors), and the comic books, than any of the movies.

But yeah, Shadows Of The Empire, that was a good game.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:26 AM on March 12


I saw this in the theatre. I did my bit for its success.
posted by mazola at 8:36 AM on March 12


There's really no reason why Street Fighter had to be bad; the basic set-up is the same as that for Enter the Dragon (lots of martial artists storm remote hideaway of evil overlord). You want to throw in some superpowers, some hadouken, fine, no prob. But that probably wasn't really an option after Capcom asked the director to basically double the number of featured characters--after they'd started casting!--and he wouldn't just tell them to fuck off.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:38 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Plus they had virtually zero time to choreograph and train for each fight. It's no coincidence that there are two passable action scenes in the movie and they both feature M. Bison - even though Julia was far too weak to do any martial arts himself, just the fact that they had to have him in the frame meant they had to wait until the end of shooting to film those scenes, which gave them time to do something more complicated and well-rehearsed than "okay, you hit him for a while."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:07 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


The NES Batman game is pretty decent, too, and the ending is something to behold.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 10:30 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


and the ending is something to behold

Well, you have to credit Sunsoft's version of Batman for efficiency at least.
posted by cortex at 10:41 AM on March 12


aubilenon: "Has there ever been a movie based on a video game that's wasn't awful?"

Reviewing this list of films based on games suggests your thesis is mostly correct. But is also suggests I need to fina a copy of this trend breaker, because it can only be awesome.
posted by pwnguin at 10:50 AM on March 12


There's really no reason why Street Fighter had to be bad; the basic set-up is the same as that for Enter the Dragon (lots of martial artists storm remote hideaway of evil overlord).

That's kind of the setup of all beat-em-up game movies - although actually they are often even more like Enter the Dragon, because the infiltration of the island takes place under the guise of a martial arts tournament - qv Dead or Alive and Mortal Kombat, and to an extent the anime Street Fighter movie. It's an efficient plot, as it allows for lots of staged one-on-one combats, without making the characters just look like narcissistic psychopaths killing each other for a prize...

As an aside, Scott Pilgrim the movie is absolutely a superb adaptation of a video game that doesn't exist, and paradoxically the video game of Scott Pilgrim vs the World is a really good movie adaptation. It's influenced by the NES Batman, in the sense that it imagines a Japanese studio trying to create a game based on a poorly-translated preliminary draft of the script and some concept art and promo photography, and ends up as a River City Rescue/Double Dragon scrolling beat-em-up.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:52 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


The NES Batman game is pretty decent, too, and the ending is something to behold.

He was a bad enough dude to kill President Ronnie!
posted by griphus at 11:09 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Looking at IMDB I think maybe the most important thing for DOA was they had an experienced director. (32 director credits for Corey Yuen, it looks like they are all martial-arts movies, plus he has a lot of credits for stunt work.)

The article does suggest Capcom wanted an inexperienced director figuring he'd be easier to push around. As much as I love the hell out of Die Hard, writing that is probably not good preparation for directing a martial-arts action film. In the article, the stunt coordinator Picerni is the most vocally critical of de Souza as a director, and there's the quote from de Souza about the "provincial egos of the stunt people."

The bit about sending off Picerni to film second unit and then de Souza discovering they weren't doing the special moves from the game, that reads to me like inexperience in how to communicate with stunt people. I'm not a stunt person, I'm not a movie director, but this is a familiar pattern in other creative collaborations. If you have someone doing a job that has a combination of technical skill and creative skill like this, and you're very unclear in what you're asking of them, they're going to revert to whatever they do by habit. And if you have no experience in what are the strengths and weaknesses of their field, and how to communicate with them about it, this is much more likely.
posted by RobotHero at 11:14 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Street Fighter has plenty of raw materials to make an amazing movie out of. The game didn't really have a story, just the clues you cobbled together from the backgrounds and the endings. For me, what it added up to when I was a kid was superhuman martial artists competing in the World Warrior fighting tournament, global in reach but largely based in Thailand. Bison, a crimelord and dictator with psychic powers, had made himself king there and named himself champion of the World Warrior as well, even though everyone saw the last one end with that kid from Japan throwing a dragon punch that flayed open the reigning champion's chest.

Shadolaw's operation in Thailand must have been tight beyond belief because INTERPOL, the Soviets and the United States Airforce all decide that placing an agent in the World Warrior tournament is worth doing. How hard is it to get at Bison if competing in gladiatorial combat just to draw him out is a credible strategy? This tournament is insane: there's a mutant with electric skin on the card, there's a guy that breathes fire and that kid from Japan is all grown up now. At minimum, it is assumed every competitor is able to punch a car to death.

Someone's gonna get hurt, and badly. Vendettas will be settled against the backdrop of Bison's crumbling psychic crime dictatorship of Thailand. Depending how the brackets work out, Mike Tyson might fight Bruce Lee before it's all over.

That's not the movie we got. But, the movie we got had Raul Julia dialed all the way to eleven and it introduced Kylie Minogue to a larger world so it's not like it's a total loss.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:07 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


(I hadn't really thought about this before, because analyzing the plot of Street Fighter is not something I've spent much time on, but isn't it ironic that Guile ultimately becomes what he is supposed to be opposing? Bison is a tyrant flouting international law, supported by a private army. Guile, by giving his big "screw Simon Callow" speech, is mutinying against the Allied Nations - i.e. the people who set and uphold international law - and bringing his own private army to Shadaloo...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:35 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


EatTheWeak: that sounds like a great movie. Oddly, the Mario Brothers movie also suffered from terrible production troubles, but had the opposite problem. The movie was used as a bare-bones premise to graft a strange Blade Runner dystopic future onto, whereas in this movie they took what could've been an interesting departure from the bare-bones game and made it even weaker by trying to put as much marketing potential as possible into it.
posted by codacorolla at 12:42 PM on March 12


Good list there ersatz. Though I would argue that the Batman Arkham Asylum games, which I did play, are really a canon of their own. They also have much more in common with the Batman animated series from the 1990s (same voice actors), and the comic books, than any of the movies.

But yeah, Shadows Of The Empire, that was a good game.

Yeah, I wouldn't disagree on either point. Rogue Squadron I & II were also great and they are an extension of the first stage of SOTE.
posted by ersatz at 1:00 PM on March 12


I think Street Fighter was a little doomed to be unserious because of the well-known name switch between Bison, Vega, and Balrog (long story short: M(ike) Bison was the boxer, a parody of Mike Tyson, in Japan. Capcom switched some names around for the US version to cover their collective ass). As much as I love Bisonopolis and the Pax Bisonica, Bison is just the worst name for a dictator (unless he's an actual bison).
posted by knuckle tattoos at 1:13 PM on March 12


Uh...they made a movie based on a fighting game?

They could easily have set it up in a similar fashion to Enter the Dragon, which was awesome. So I don't think the fact it was a fighting game really meant it had to stink.
posted by Hoopo at 3:54 PM on March 12


@ersatz You missed Spider-Man 2 (PS2). Swinging through the city on webs was awesome, as was Bruce Campbell reading the tutorial.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:43 AM on March 13


Now, Street Fighter: The Movie: The Video Game, in both its incarnations? Those might be the worst video games based on a movie based on a video game.

So it must be time for Street Fighter: The Movie: The Video Game: The Musical! (Starring JCVD, of course, now he is completely on board with self-parody).
posted by fizban at 5:34 AM on March 13


Believe it or not the soundtrack for Street Fighter: The Movie is one of the most slept on and under appreciated 90's hip hop albums.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:25 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


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