Property Review: Street Fighter (1994)

Damme it, this isn’t Street Fighter

“1994 was a good year for coke but a bad year for Street Fighter and Jean-Claude Van Damme.” This is the prevailing sentiment around Gaming Insurrection, considering GI’s editors were teenagers at the time and able to remember exactly how that situation played out.
Street Fighter was riding high at this point with the superb Super Turbo (the subject of this issue’s feature) having been released earlier in the year, a movie with big names attached coming down the pipeline, and its maker Capcom flush with cash. However, all of that would soon crash and burn, thanks to the movie.
Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is the Street Fighter movie about? If you know anything about the franchise’s storyline, you can at least recognize Guile, Chun-Li, and Bison. Guile and Cammy are hunting Bison, a dictator hell bent on world domination. Bison is into some of everything: Drugs, human trafficking, murder, extortion, and illegal arms sales. The intrepid officers are joined by news reporter Chun-Li, former Sumo wrestler E. Honda and boxer Balrog, who are out for revenge against Bison for his various misdeeds. The ragtag crew eventually meet and work with Ken and Ryu, who are con artists trying to scheme against Bison enforcer Sagat. The rest of the World Warriors – Dhalsim, Vega, Dee Jay and Zangief – work for Bison while Blanka is Guile’s friend who is transformed into the beastly roller because of Bison’s experimentation.
For the uninitiated, this seems like a lot and silly. Even for those of us who play the series faithfully, it is exactly that. None of this matches the series storyline, except for Bison, Guile, and Chun-Li. In the games it’s eventually revealed that: Cammy is a clone of Bison; Charlie is not Blanka; Dhalsim, Dee Jay and Zangief don’t work for Bison while Balrog does; and, Ken and Ryu are not con artists. Ryu also doesn’t have a last name. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of inconsistencies in this film, and we haven’t touched on the fact that Guile and Cammy don’t work together, and Guile and Ken don’t appear to know each other despite them being brothers-in-law in the games (editor’s note: Ken’s wife, Eliza, and Guile’s wife, Jane, are canonically sisters.). You could explain this away by saying this is an alternate timeline, but Street Fighter hasn’t ventured into that territory as some of its competitors have, such as Mortal Kombat. There is no bright spot with this unnecessarily muddied storyline because all it does is make the characters one-dimensional and slightly easy to understand.
The only bright spot in all this mess is the late Raúl Juliá. Juliá, the incomparable stage great, shows up and carries the film on his broad shoulders in his unfortunate last role before his death in 1994. Bison is appropriately over the top and goofy, but Juliá does it with such aplomb that you kind of root for the dictator despite his terrible acts. Juliá inspires that, though it doesn’t hurt that we were already fans of the terribly missed thespian through the Addams Family films. Van Damme, Ming Na Wen and Kylie Minogue are there, but are they really, though? Van Damme was cast as Guile and made the star of the show even though that role traditionally falls to Ryu. And per the usual that we’ve come to expect from Van Damme, though he has the moves and skill set to pull off the fighting aspects of the character, he doesn’t have the acting chops and he looks nothing like the character. This version of Guile is nothing like the game version and that’s perhaps one of the weakest aspects of the entire thing. He simply wasn’t believable even when you’ve already suspended disbelief this far. The consolation is that everyone else – including Wen and Minogue – resemble their characters in at least façade.
Combining the stunning lack of foresight in Van Damme’s casting and the ridiculous script that doesn’t resemble the games gets you this muddled mess of a send up. At least the ending scene – with the remaining actors recreating their characters’ win poses from Street Fighter II – ties it back to the franchise in a tangible way.
Believe us when we tell you that this was not, in fact, perfect.

Like the games: 1
Acting: 5
Story: 5
Total: 11/30 or 3.6

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Marvel character highlight #32: Captain Marvel

Name: Carol Susan Jane Danvers/Car-Ell

Alias: Binary, Warbird, Ms. Marvel, Catherine Donovan

Affiliation: Avengers, A-Force, Alpha Flight Space Program, Guardians of the Galaxy, Infinity Watch, Mighty Avengers, NASA, New Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Starjammers, Ultimates, United States Air Force, X-Men

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, durability, agility, stamina, and reflexes; energy manipulation, absorption, and projection; human/Kree physiology granting resistance to toxins and poisons; “seventh sense” granting flash precognition; accelerated healing factor; and, flight

Background: Carol Danvers began life as a child of a human father and Kree mother. After joining the U.S. Air Force and piloting experimental fighter jets and working in intelligence gathering with Wolverine, Danvers joined NASA as their security chief. There, she became entangled in the adventures of the Kree Mar-Vell, who also was known as Captain Marvel. After Captain Marvel saved her a number of times, she grew to trust him and admired him. After a run in with the Kree Yon-Rogg, an experimental Kree device exploded near Danvers. She was seriously injured and disappeared. She later resurfaced with superhuman powers, christening herself Ms. Marvel. She later worked closely with the X-Men and the Avengers, changing power sets multiple times because of outside influences such as the Brood.

Relationships: Mar-Vell (Captain Marvel), close friend and mentor; James Howlett (Wolverine), close friend; Marcus Immortus, “husband”/son; Chewie, pet

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Appearances in other media:
Television: X-Men the Animated Series, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Spider-Man, Marvel Future Avengers, Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight!, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron, What If …?, Ms. Marvel

Film: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Marvels

Video games: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Zen Pinball 2, Marvel Strike Force, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Avengers Academy, Marvel Power United VR, Marvel Battle Lines, Marvel Super War, Marvel Duel, Marvel Future Revolution, Fortnite, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Top 5 on The Strip: Bad SF cartoon edition

Akuma and M. Bison didn’t meet until the end of SF2
This requires some knowledge of Street Fighter lore. The only time that Akuma and M. Bison met was at the end of the World Warrior tournament in the second game. It’s canon that Akuma performed the Raging Demon on Bison and killed him. They didn’t meet in a cave and interact there. Ever.

Balrog isn’t a PC whiz
Balrog is canon to care only about getting paid while in the service of M. Bison. There is no way that he was doing any sort of IT monitoring or PC services for Bison. Also, there is no way that he could perform any sort of typing with boxing gloves on. It’s physically impossible.

Cammy and M. Bison weren’t lovers
OK, this is sort of confirmed to be kind of true because Bison had her brainwashed to believe that she was his lover previously. However, the ick factor that accompanies this also requires some knowledge of SF canon. Official word from Capcom is that Cammy is a clone body created for Bison. He’d be making out with himself.

M. Bison and Guile aren’t friends
There is never a time in SF lore that M. Bison and Guile were ever friends or helped each other. Never. M. Bison personally murdered Guile’s best friend, Charlie Nash, in Street Fighter Alpha 3, which takes place before Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Guile’s vendetta is solely based on this. This frame never happened.

Zangief never worked as a Bison minion
The only adaptations where Zangief worked for Bison was in the live-action movie and in Street Fighter II V, neither of which are considered canon. He usually is friendly with the other World Warriors, save Guile, who is one of his motivations to defeat. Given that the cartoon is based on the live-action movie, that’d be why, incorrectly, Zangief is shown to be a henchman.

Property Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

First Avenger Assembled

Around these parts, we are known Marvel enthusiasts. So, it was a big surprise that while we’d seen all the majority of the MCU offerings, we hadn’t seen Cap’s origin.

We love Cap from the end of his time in the MCU, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan’s introduction.
Captain America’s story in the MCU starts out much like the comics: Steve Rogers, a frail sickly man who is super patriotic, wants to fight for his country in the already-in-progress World War II. Even though he has an admirable fighting spirit, he’s rejected at every turn. That is until Dr. Abraham Erskine comes along with his Super Soldier Serum. The good doctor looks at Rogers as a suitable candidate for the serum, not because he’s the perfect soldier, but because he’s a good man. The project – attended and funded by Howard Stark and observed by Peggy Carter – is a rousing success, transforming the poor orphan into the strong, able-bodied Steve Rogers that we know and love. But here’s where things go wrong for our young super soldier: Erskine is murdered by the Nazis, and with him goes the future of the project.

Steve is now a one-of-a-kind freak asset, and the U.S. government doesn’t exactly need him to go do the things the main army is already accomplishing. However, when news of his childhood bestie James “Bucky” Barnes’ capture reaches his camp, Steve steals off to the front lines to rescue him and Bucky’s unit almost singlehandedly and proves his worth. Steve then manages to change the outcome of the war effort through bravery but there’s a cost: The Nazis manage to get their hands on the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube. Steve tracks it down and engages in battle only to win but lose Bucky and be lost to history for 70 years after crashing his plane to prevent the Cube from being recovered.
Given our previous reviews of MCU films and our glowing praise for the development of Steve Rogers, it’s not a secret that we love the characterization of Captain America. You learn here that Steve has always been worthy (for the purposes of wielding Mjolnir) and why. This isn’t a platitude that bares out in Avengers: Endgame just because he did a few good things. It’s built into Steven Grant Rogers’ DNA, from the moment that you see him fight a bully with the makeshift shield to the minute that he jumps on a fake hand grenade without thinking of the danger to himself. The Man out of Time is, in fact, the best man for the job because he is that job.

And while others are excellent in their roles here, let us take a minute to appreciate the outstanding job Chris Evans does with the role. Evans is so perfect a choice for Captain Rogers that 11 years later, we cannot picture anyone else playing the role. Evans’ earnest portrayal of the character shines through and propels the movie beyond the standard origin story. And his chemistry with the also-excellent Sebastian Stan and Hayley Atwell is a notable highlight. Hugo Weaving also deserves mention as a good villain in the story. He isn’t over the top, but a subtle smoldering foil to the good captain’s plans to end World War II.

We are massive fans of Captain America from the angle of Winter Soldier but with the seeds planted here, we now have the lead up to why we claim Winter Soldier as our favorite MCU film. First Avenger isn’t the first film in the MCU, but it certainly ranks high in the pantheon of character establishment in the world of Marvel superheroes.

Like the comics: 8
Acting: 9.5
Story: 9.5
Total: 27/30 or 9

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Marvel character highlight #31: X-23

Name: Laura Kinney

Alias: X-23, Captain Universe, Talon, Wolverine

Affiliation: Weapon X, X-Men, New X-Men, Avengers Academy, X-Force

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, durability, senses, reflexes, agility and animal-like attributes, regeneration, Adamantium-covered retractable claws in hands and feet, expert armed and unarmed combatant

Background: Laura Kinney was born to Dr. Sarah Kinney, who was part of a top-secret program designed to recreate Weapon X. The child, the 23rd and only viable embryo in the project, was experimented upon and had her natural-born claws coated in Adamantium much like her father’s. After her handler trained her with a trigger scent, she was set loose upon her mother and killed her in a murderous frenzy. She was found and arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D. but managed to track down Wolverine and explain her past and their connection. They form a relationship and after demonstrating her innocence, she returns to Wolverine and later joins the X-Men for training and work with her father.

Relationships: Wolverine, biological father; Dr. Sarah Kinney, biological mother; Daken, brother; Gabby Kinney, clone/sister; Megan Kinney, maternal cousin; Angel, lover; Gambit, close friend; Psylocke, close friend

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

Appearances in other media:
Television: Wolverine and the X-Men (animated), The Super Hero Squad Show (animated), Hulk vs. Wolverine (animated)

Film: Logan

Video games: X-Men the Official Game, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel: War of Heroes, Marvel Pinball, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Strike Force

Property Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Snyder Cut rights a grave wrong

Sometimes, setting a precedent is a necessary evil.

The theatrical release of Justice League in 2017 was an unmitigated disaster. The plot was all over the place, the editing was unpolished, and it generally didn’t seem ready for release. But, the rumors began of another cut by the original director Zack Snyder. Snyder, who had stepped down for personal reasons, was generally regarded as someone who knew what they were doing when it comes to comic book film adaptations (see Man of Steel, 300 and Watchmen). This cut was much longer but supposedly closer to the original vision of what Justice League should have been.

The Snyder Cut was that and much more.

Putting together a coherent feature, the Snyder Cut is infinitely more watchable than the original cut of the film. Character motivations make more sense, important details are emphasized, and subplots and sometimes even characters are restored. Snyder’s delicate touch and worldbuilding are vital with an ensemble picture such as this, and it shows in the many changes made to correct.

One of those material effects is the origin story of Cyborg. With Snyder’s vision restored and more of the important details of his transition from human to cyborg, Cyborg is more present than he ever hoped to be in the original cut. Actor Ray Fisher is a force to be reckoned with in the film, and through this re-characterization you can immediately see why. Fisher must balance the nature of humanity versus machine after Victor Stone’s accident, and he does so with stunning aplomb.

Also of note, The Flash, as portrayed by Ezra Miller, is also superb with the restoration of his character in Snyder’s version. Miller takes the character from jokester to serious world-saving hero with several amazing scenes, including one that eventually won an Academy Award. Though this is not a review of Warner Bros.’ failures, take note that the scene that won the Oscar was among quite a few that the studio and theatrical director Joss Whedon cut from the original final product.

Snyder’s final cut blows away the original theatrical cut and makes good use of the extended run time. It’s almost as if an ensemble film should be this long and this good on purpose. While we’re not fans of the precedent set in having multiple releases of the same film, the original cut of Justice League was an abomination that necessitated the Snyder version’s release. Trust us when we say the film only has room for one abomination in the form of Darkseid.

Story: 8
Acting: 10
Like the comics?: 9

Total score: 27/30 or 9.0

 

HOW WE GRADE

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Anime Lounge #22: Horimiya Episodes 1-12

Series: Horimiya

Episodes: 1-12

Premise: An outgoing girl (Kyouko Hori) notices a shy boy (Izumi Miyamura) in her class and wonders why he doesn’t have any friends. At the same time, they meet outside of class when Miyamura looks completely different. Their friendship blossoms and eventually they confess to having feelings for each other. Where their relationship and that of their friends and acquaintances takes them is the meat of the story.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. Outstanding visuals and a mature story about the feelings of young people becoming adults makes for a compelling anime. The intro theme is also fantastic.

Breakout character: Izumi Miyamura. He goes from super shy guy to outrageously cute pierced and tattooed guy every day and settles somewhere in between. His glow up is amazing once he develops confidence.

Where it’s going?: The relationship between Hori and Miyamura intensifies, and it’s obvious this will lead to marriage down the line. The fun will be in getting there. There is a second season announced, so we will see more of their relationship progress over time.

Marvel character highlight #30: Gamora

Name: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan

Alias: Requiem, The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy

Affiliation: Guardians of the Galaxy, Infinity Watch, Phalanx, Graces, United Front, Nova Corps

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, durability and agility, master assassin, master martial artist, master of conventional weapons, master thief

Background: Gamora was born as part of the Zen-Whoberis race, which was wiped out by the Badoon/Universal Church of Truth (dependent on timeline). She was then found by Thanos and enhanced and trained in the assassin arts. Once she was ready, she was assigned to protect current timeline Adam Warlock and assassinate his future evil self, Magus. Though she failed to kill Magus, she continued her assignment with Adam until Thanos revealed himself as a massive threat to existence. She then joined Warlock and the Infinity Watch to take out Thanos. She dies and finds herself within the Soul Gem for a time. Once released, she fought to stop Thanos’ reign of terror with the Infinity Gauntlet but was erased from existence. She was restored with all of the other heroes, and later left Infinity Watch and joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Relationships: Thanos, adoptive father; Star-Lord (Peter Quill), lover; Nova (Richard Rider), former lover; Adam Warlock, former lover; Nebula, adoptive sister

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Appearances in other media:

Television: Silver Surfer (animated series), Ultimate Spider-Man (animated series), Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy (animated series), Lego Marvel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat

Film: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Video games: Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Strike Force, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Disney Infinity 3.0, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Powers United VR, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Top 5 on The Strip: Superman villain edition

Darkseid
Darkseid isn’t just a Superman villain, mostly because he tends to antagonize everyone in the Justice League. But it’s something about Kal-El and his goings on that apparently sets the Lord of Apokolips off. One of the most legendary battles that took place between the Man of Steel and the Omega King occurred in the superb animated film Superman/Batman Apocalypse. Watch the ending fight scene just to get a sense for how much Superman hates Darkseid.

Lex Luthor
Lex is to Superman what the Joker is to Batman. Lex uses Superman to gauge his arching skills and probably couldn’t exist if Superman were to ever vanish from the DC Universe. Somehow, some way Lex finds a way to remain a thorn in Clark’s side, whether he’s dead or alive or imprisoned. You can always count on Lex to stay ready in his pursuit of Superman’s defeat.

Doomsday
If adapt and react were a character, it would be Doomsday. Responsible for the death of Superman in 1992, Doomsday is known solely for being the slayer of Superman. He’s a beast that Superman has always had trouble fighting and successfully stopping, and any time he shows up, you know Superman will probably die.

General Zod
Always ready to clap it up with Superman, General Zod has a superiority complex and an ego the size of Krypton before it exploded. That’s Zod’s problem: He just knew he was right and knew what was best for Krypton. Generally, that involved fighting with the House of El and it generally involves fighting Superman at some point. This is a fight that supersedes an entire planet disintegrating.

Brainiac
The know-it-all supercomputer is one of Superman’s most obnoxious foes. He’s known for two things: His “twelfth-level intellect” and shrinking cities down and stuffing them into bottles. Sometimes, depending on the version, he’s also known for causing the destruction of Krypton. In any version of Superman’s battles, Brainiac is known as one of his most destructive and dangerous foes.

Top 5 on The Strip: DC stuff we’re anticipating edition

Flash’s new movie with return of Michael Keaton

You all know how much we here at GI love Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman. And we’re practically jumping up and down for joy that it’s been confirmed we will see him again in this upcoming Flash solo film. Yes, we do love Ezra Miller as the Flash, but it’s been 30 years since we’ve seen Keaton don the cowl. That’s worth any price of admission.

Future seasons of Titans

This past season of Titans was fantastic. Vincent Kartheiser, of Mad Men brilliance, as the Scarecrow was on point with the long game the entire season, and we finally got Jason Todd as the Red Hood. We all knew it was coming, but how and why was expertly done. We’re expecting great things in the upcoming seasons now that the focus is shifting back to Dick Grayson being the leader of the Titans in San Francisco.

Black Adam coming with the Rock

Black Adam’s long development has been simmering for a while, and now it’s boiling if you smell what the Rock has been cooking. We’re more than ready for Dwayne Johnson take on the character — who, in the intervening years, has been drawn in his likeness. The movie looks to be great, and we support Johnson in anything and everything he does. We’re looking forward to Shazam going one on one with the Great One finally.

Blue Beetle film with Xolo Maridueña

We have so grown to love Xolo Maridueña, best known for his role as Miguel in the brilliant Cobra Kai. His earnest and awesome portrayal of the cute karate powerhouse means we will follow his projects, and Blue Beetle is one that’s taking shape for DC. The character is cool, and we expect that Maridueña will bring the heat when he finally gets started.

Henry Cavill returning as Superman

Given that he’s been the best choice for the Man of Steel for nearly a decade, we welcome the return of Cavill if he’ll have us. His Superman is believable and decent, and we loved his version in Justice League. We also happen to be big fans of Cavill in general — he was fantastic in The Tudors — so if he’s willing to don the cape and House of El symbol once again, we’ll take it.