So you have 35 million dollars and you want to make a movie based on a video game, huh? Sweet. That’s a really good idea.
But with so many video games out there, which one do you choose? Well, if it’s 1994, which it is in this scenario, you’d be a total dumbass not to choose the most popular game on planet fucking Earth: Street Fighter II.
There is, however, one problem with basing a movie on Street Fighter II – Aside from some character bios in the instruction manual and 30 seconds of story when you beat the game, there is no real plot to speak of. It’s just Dragon Punches and Hadoukens and getting mad at your buddies for cornering you like a bitch with E. Honda’s Body Splash even though they promised not to.
So how do you turn frustrated button-mashing into an enjoyable film experience?
Well, you could use the actual story from the Japanese game or even the arcade version. Or I suppose you could just indiscriminately smush all the game’s characters together and have them run around like assholes for an hour and a half. If you really wanted to be a dick, you could just say fuck the whole “street fighting” angle and give them all guns.
Holy shit, that’s what you did? Man, that is gonna fucking SUCK. How are you gonna get people to watch that garbage?
Oh, I see. Well played.
Street Fighter is proof positive of the true power of JCVD. By merely existing, he manages to make an unwatchable pile of shit somewhat watchable, but not in his usual fashion. It doesn’t open with him doing a flying kick off a building onto a guy’s mouth or something. In fact, he doesn’t even karate anything until like an hour and fifteen minutes into the movie, but every scene up until he does is still super intense because you know he could totally lose it and do karate at any second. He’s like a fucking coiled viper.
But JCVD doesn’t rely on this potential energy to carry his weight. The man does not rest on his laurels. No, he took shit into his own hands. In my head, his first day on set went like this:
JCVD: “Hi everybody. Now, I know this Guile character I’m playing is supposed to be some sort of pissed-off ex-Air Force guy hellbent on avenging the death of his friend, but that sounds pretty gay. From now on, he’s a handsome back-sassing loose-cannon Army Colonel who plays by his own rules in both combat and love. Cool? Cool. I’ll be in my trailer fucking whoever or whatever I want. Come get me when you need me to be awesome. Don’t bother knocking…I’m not ashamed of what I do in there.”
As a result of this assumed executive decision by a man who knows what he wants, Jean-Claude spends the majority of the movie snubbing authority and cracking wise with boyish charm rather than Flash-Kicking Russian bear-wrestlers and beating up 4-door sedans for bonus points. These quips, delivered as only JCVD could, are priceless and pure genius. I was so taken by one particular scene in which Guile is calling out M. Bison that I remixed it into a song you can bone to. (It’s only 44 seconds long, though, so you better hold your breath and concentrate really hard if you wanna finish by the end.)
Fun Fact: Emmy-winning actor Raul Julia played the role of evil dictator M. Bison, who is killed by JCVD in the end of the film. Mere months later, Julia died in real life – proving once and for all that if JCVD kills you…even in a movie…you stay dead.
While I may only give Street Fighter 1 out of 10 jab Yoga Fires, I give JCVD’s performance 10 out of 10 fierce Yoga Flames.