Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li

Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li

Crimes:

  • Creating an origin story for a videogame character by generating yet another generic “Hero’s Journey: Eastern Version” arc, complete with long training sequences and dialogue like, “You have to put away your anger… it will not guide you.”
  • Reducing the heroes and villains to a collection of stereotypical signifiers, such as having wealthy bad guy Neal McDonough eat caviar on toast points, while lone wolf Interpol agent Chris Klein sports slicked-back long hair and perma-stubble
  • Six words: “Based on Capcom’s Street Fighter games”

Defender: Producers Patrick Aiello and Ashok Amritaj, with actors Neal McDonough and Chris Klein

Tone Of Commentary: McDonough starts with a joke, saying, “I’m Michael Clarke Duncan,” but after that half-quip the tone turns serious and self-congratulatory, with even McDonough praising how Street Fighter’s large and diverse crew pulled together and “made a pretty great movie.” Amritaj insists that even though the story is based on a game, “We wanted it to stand alone as a movie, and I think we’ve done that.” Aiello, meanwhile, keeps his eyes on the prize, noting that the song playing in the nightclub scene is by Ace Hood, “a new artist being broken by Def Jam in early 2009.”

What Went Wrong: Apparently a fundamental misunderstanding of what kind of movie they were making. According to the commentary, the cast came over to Thailand early to train, and developed detailed backstories for their characters. (McDonough’s villain is an Irishman who grew up on the streets of Bangkok.) The producers say they “wanted to tip our hat to the game characters as much as possible,” including giving the heroine a spinning bird pendant as a nod to videogame Chun-Li’s “spinning bird kick,” but the producers also say that they “wanted the game characters to come off as realistic.” Klein worked closely with the director to make his character “confident, but not morose,” knowing that he needed to smile so that the audience would root for him. And McDonough, confusing videogame reality with reality-reality, says of his character, “There are obviously guys like Bison in the world, which is so scary,” adding, “We modeled him on Richard Branson.”

Comments On The Cast: Klein’s a compliment-machine, hailing nearly every cast member for their professionalism in the face of a complicated shooting schedule. Of McDonough, Klein cites, “the level of control, all coming from your eyes… so powerful, man.” (To which McDonough replies, “Thanks, brother.”) Of star Kristin Kreuk, Klein notes her hard work and her good fortune in being asked to play “a fully developed female hero.” Amritaj, on the other hand, is a little more down-to-Earth about Kreuk, saying only that they were looking for a good actress “with a little bit of an Asian feel.”

Inevitable Dash Of Pretension: It would be hard to find a moment when the commenters aren’t being pretentious, whether they’re analyzing the character motivations using terms like “sacrifice” and “journey” or whether they’re talking about the gentle Buddhist souls of the Thai people. (After saying that the rest of the world is all about “keeping up with the Joneses, McDonough marvels how “over there, there are no Joneses.”) But the commenters save their most rhapsodic waking for the city of Bangkok, which Klein insists “becomes a character.” Amritaj replies, “That’s so true, Chris… To quote Chun-li, the pulse of the city is really… uh… amazing.”

Commentary In A Nutshell: After noting (yet again) the similarities between the movie and the game, Amritaj cuts to the chase: “Street Fighter IV comes out February 18th”

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