Street Fighter II has a legitimate argument as being the most famous and popular of Capcom’s innumerable Street Fighter adaptations. It also has the distinct honor of having provided the key subject matter and backdrop for Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, which is probably the single most entertaining film to ever spawn from the popular gaming series.
Directed by Gisaburo Sugii and distributed by 20th Century Fox in collaboration with other studios, the movie took on a fairly straightforward Street Fighter saga in a way that incorporated as many key characters as possible—something other cinematic adaptations have struggled mightily. The basic plot is that chief villain M. Bison (voiced by Joji Nakata) is seeking to abduct and brainwash Ryu (Kojiro Shimizu), whom he believes to be the best fighter on the planet, aside from himself. Meanwhile, American military Capt. Guile (Masane Tsukayama) teams up with Chun-Li (Miki Fujitani) to hunt Bison, who is actively seeking to get to Ryu through Ryu’s old friend and training partner Ken (Kenji Haga). Through this perfectly sensible plot line, the bulk of the series’ main characters are included quite naturally while others are brought in as supporting cast members for Bison and Ryu.
The movie has a 7.3 rating on IMDB.com, indicating generally favorable reviews among critics and viewers alike. As mentioned, it still stands as arguably the best Street Fighter film to date. Its mix of easy drama, match-up battles, and character inclusion combined to form exactly what most gaming fans would want in a fighter adaptation. Naturally, the decision to do it as an anime project resulted in more engaging action scenes than those that can be achieved in live action. But it’s also particularly successful in that it had a fairly significant impact on the future of the Street Fighter gaming series.
To begin with, it helped to solidify the legacy of Street Fighter II as perhaps the best known of all the games. Now, even 20 years after the movie was made, there are multiple new versions of the same Street Fighter II concept. An online arcade version can be found on the Betfair site, where some of the welcome bonuses and promotions can offer a nice starting point for some pretty competitive gaming options. The site allows real money gaming (where legal), which is a pretty exciting concept to apply to the same old, classic Street Fighter characters in a game that uses Capcom’s artwork and musical themes to great effect. For a simpler option, there’s also a Street Fighter II collection in the iOS app store, essentially amounting to a streamlined mobile version of Street Fighter II for just $3.99 on mobile devices.
The movie also served as a foundation for several of the Alpha-series spinoff games, which made use of some of the characters that the movie helped to popularize. Sagat is one clear example in this regard. After appearing as Bison’s right-hand man in the animated movie, he achieved a more prominent role in gaming, serving as one of the primary villains in the 1996 game Street Fighter Alpha 2 (which was admittedly pretty light on plot). The movie is also the first major instance in which we see Ryu fighting Ken once Bison has successfully brainwashed the latter. Conflict between the two friends later appeared in a few different games, and some fans even believe that they had an original foundation as rivals.
All things considered, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is one of the most enjoyable and influential projects, in gaming or in cinema, in the history of Capcom’s iconic fighting series. And as such, it has a certain special place in anime lore.