It seems as if video game movies are cursed. Apart from being really bad or guilty pleasures, there hasn't really been a video game film that was actually any good. Now, Hollywood attempted to adapt the critically acclaimed fight game “Street Fighter II” not once but twice! Both times they failed miserably! Enter “Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist”. Does this independent movie have what it takes where the big studios failed? Let's take a look.
|Legends in the making|
“Assassin's Fist” chronicles Ryu (Mike Moh) and Ken's (Christian Howard) early days. We meet them as children and follow their training and trials in Japan as they try to master the mysterious power of hado. Parallel to their story we also follow Gouken (Akira Okieyama), Ken and Ryu's master as he reminisces about his past and the tragic fall from grace of his brother Gouki (Gaku Space). As the boys grow into teenagers there seems to be something “off” with Ryu. Things go wrong when a dark force from the past makes its return.
|2 brother and 1 girl...A drama in the making|
Started off as a short film by Joey Ansah and Christian Howard back in 2010. The overwhelming success of that short gave them the chance and the funds to adapt it into a 12 part web-series and a 2 hour film (As it was originally shot). For something that's based on a fight game it is surprisingly deep and character driven. The story is about friendship, brotherhood, honor and love. You really get to know the characters. The downside of that is that it tends to drag in its second act. So, is this a drama movie then? No. Don't worry, this film most definitely delivers on the fight and action scenes!
|You never forget your first Hadoken!|
See, the movie is superbly written by Ansah and Howard. They take their time for you to get into the characters, what makes them tick, their backgrounds, hopes and wishes. When they do fight, when they are in peril, you actually care for them! The fights are beautifully choreographed by Ansah (Matt Damon beat him up). He sprinkles the fights with the signature moves of the game without it becoming silly or too "video game-y". The performances are excellent with a standout performance by veteran actor Togo Igawa as Goutetsu, Gouken and Gouki's sensei. The cinematography by James Friendship is beautiful and the visual effects support the story rather well. The blu-ray "movie" version features an extra prologue. Now, I thought that this would be like an extra 2 minutes or something but it's actually quite lengthy and ends the movie on a cliffhanger! It's a sequence that gives somewhat of a closure to a character in the movie and is not seen in the web-series version. Also, be sure to stick around for the after credit sequence. You get a stinger that would make Marvel Studios proud.
|A darkness returns|
So, how is it possible then that the two big budget attempts failed? It's quite simple actually. Joey Ansah and Christian Howard know and love these characters; and their respective story lines. Above all, they respect the source material. This is why “Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist” is a triumph on many levels and as far as I'm concerned the only good and faithful (live-action) adaption of “Street Fighter”. So has the curse been broken then? Not entirely. The movie does have some pacing problems but apart from that, it is excellent. So, with a sequel coming up I'm more than certain that they'll break that curse and show the world that with care and passion you can make a great video game movie. This is a thing of beauty.