Amritraj Talks New ‘Street Fighter’ Film
It’s not easy being green, but it’s even less easy being a movie based on a video game. Such films have a notoriously bad track record, with very few getting passing grades. (Silent Hill comes to mind, and even then, just barely.) Certainly, the Jean-Claude Van Damme starring Street Fighter didn’t wow anybody. If it did, it was more of a "Wow, I can’t believe this is Raul Julia’s last film. Poor guy."
The franchise will take a shot at redemption with the upcoming Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. The film, starring Kristen Kreuk (Smallville) as Chun Li, is poised to be the one to finally break tradition as a successful video game adaptation. That is, of course, if producer Ashok Amritraj is to be believed.
"Video games are not easy to translate into movies obviously," Armritraj tells Collider in an exclusive interview. "But it’s a double-edged sword. On the one-hand you have a wonderful awareness and built-in audience, which is very important these days with the crowded market place. On the other hand, you have to make sure you please your core audience and it’s not always easy to do."
But there’s confidence that Chun Li will be the film to finally get it right.
"I really think we have a good film," he says. "[Kristin Kreuk’s] absolutely terrific in the film … and we feel it works."
Armritraj concedes that Chun Li breaks slightly from Street Fighter lore, describing it as a "classic martial arts movie." Still, there are plenty of winks and nods to fans of the game.
"It has the hadouken," Armritraj says, the first official confirmation that the blue fireball will roast in the picture. "It has the spinning bird kick you know, where [Chun Li] does her spinning bird kick. It has many of those sort of iconic images to it."
According to the producer, Chun Li sports about seven characters from the video game. In addition to the titular heroine, M. Bison, Balrog, Vega, Maya, Cantana and Gen make the cut. There will be some cognitive dissonance when fans see Robin Shou as Gen (pictured above), as the actor’s most famous American role is Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat films. Nonetheless, Armritraj calls Gen a "terrific" character, which should surprise very few people consider Shou’s martial arts expertise.
Sadly absent from the roster this go around are Ken and Ryu, the martial artist friends and rivals. Arguably the most popular characters in the Street Fighter franchise, Armritraj certainly hopes to put the characters in future films should Chun Li prove successful.
"We feel that in the Street Fighter world universe there are three key characters, which are Ken, Ryu and Chun Li," he says. "If [Chun Li]works, we hope to do Ken and Ryu and so on."
Armitraj said that the rivals would have "separate movies," which is kind of a bummer. Can you imagine a Ken and Ryu film where the two martial artists train vigorously to face each other in a dragon-kick heavy showdown? It’d be like Rocky on acid. Hopefully we get to see that film.
One thing seems certain: for now, don’t expect to see anything called Street Fighter: The Legend of Guile after Van Damme’s awful performance. Man, if only that Men in Black mindwiper really existed…