After it was announced that Jean-Claude Van Damme was high for the duration of Street Fighter, I decided to rewatch with modern eyes. I’m disappointed all over again … for reasons I didn’t predict.
The twelve-year-old me had a lot of problems, and Street Fighter 2 was one of them. As a troubled tween, it was an example to follow. The heroes wore pajamas, fought people, and punched parked cars to death. Perfect.
Looking back, the video game also represented my financial original sin, as the dollars that were fed into that pixelated chasm priced me out of the home market forever. Suffice to say that the pre-pube me was desirous of anything that was processed by the bowels of Capcom, and, for my sins, we were given the Street Fighter movie. Jesus Hadoken Christ.
(Street Fighter, theatrical movie poster, Universal Pictures)
As a youth, I remember seeing Street Fighter and being annoyed by the liberties it took with the source material, and, as an adult, I couldn’t enjoy it because it was bad. Which is disappointing, as for a movie that has everything, it has absolutely nothing.
Recently, The Guardian released a piece about the making of Street Fighter, with the main takeaway being that Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) was on blow for most of the production. Which disappoints me for two reasons. A) It means that he wasn’t just a force of one-liners, and B) The fact that he was able to produce so little in the face (or nose) of mucho yeyo. I mean, it’s punchable barrels to oranges here, but the other epic loosely based on fiction starring a protagonist on drugs shot on location in South East Asia was actually quite good.
Per The Guardian: At one stage in the 1990s, JCVD was hoovering 10g a day; and $10,000 a week. “I couldn’t talk about it at the time, but I can now: Jean-Claude was coked out of his mind,” says the film’s director, Steven de Souza.
I mean, the drugs didn’t assist his performance. Unless it allowed him to do this for realsies.
It’s more Apocalypse Naw, you tried. All of which reminds me of my original disappointment, a re-opening of old wounds.
Honestly, Colonel Guile was a bit of an icon of mine. He had hair goals, and he proved that each bully could be dispatched with a flash kick. On the back of this news, he’s disappointingly turned into those bullies I went to school with. He’s just another buff cokehead in pursuit of cryptocurrency. Bison Dollars > Bitcoin.
On paper, Street Fighter should be at least a grim millennial titter. Something we can attach our modern morals to and finish him, forever. It sports a Potemkin collection of law enforcers, a coalition of nations proudly laying down their lives in order to whitewash the world. Outside of the Muscles from Brussels playing an American, we had an American-Samoan play a Japanese Sumo, an American-Dominican playing a Jamaican, and Ramsay Street’s finest attempting her best cockney. None of which worked, but they achieved their aims. White power. I guess?
At the end of the film, after Van Damme blows up the everything, an explosion of violence with all the characters dressed as they would be in the video game for some reason, the final choice he has to make is which woman to bang first. Women are treated like sexual slaves, ethnicity is treated as a street to not visit. It seems fertile ground for criticism, but no.
Maybe that is its greatest legacy. Not the nonsense that it was or that circled around while it was being made, but rather the fact that it just isn’t worth spending your currency. It’s worth letting the character count down to zero and getting back to your life.
Considering our hyper-super-mega-powers of internet criticism, it’s no mean feat. Maybe if they took more care with it, we’d be angrier about it. It sits in a murky level of just being out of range of our thousand-palm outrage.
It’s not bad, it’s just shit.
At least Raul Julia was a joy in it. Vaya con Dios, Bison.