Friday, 15 January 2016

Street Fighter Assassin's Fist - Mini Movie Review

If you follow fighting games as I do, you will probably also share the same feeling of frustration and despair when it comes to movies based on some of the biggest names in the world of digital fisticuffs. Street Fighter: The Movie was bad, Tekken was even worse (I refuse to watch the recently released sequel) and The King of Fighters was beyond atrocious on more levels that can be described. There are others of course but I don't doubt that the picture is clear enough. I'd long since given up any hope of these big studios being able to get a single thing right but then I came across Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist.

Originally released as an online episodic series, this was a fan conceived project that started life on Youtube before a subsequent Kickstarter appeal for a full series was launched. The Kickstarter was eventually scrapped thanks to funds from private backers providing the necessary cash to bring Assassin's Fist to life and so Joey Ansah (director, fight choreographer, writer, actor, martial artist), Christian Howard (actor, writer, martial artist) and Jacqueline Quella (Academy Award-nominated producer) were able to commence bringing their vision of Ryu and Ken's origins to the screen. Even better, Capcom granted the team full rights to proceed with the project and the result? Easily the best live-action adaptation of a fighting game there has been.

The plot is all about Ryu and Ken's training with master Gouken (prior to the events of the Street Fighter games) but it also delves into the past with Gouken's own training alongside brother Akuma being a central part of the story. Crucially for fans, this is all pulled off perfectly and the events of Assassin's Fist mirror the backstory of the Street Fighter games to such an impressive degree that there is very little to complain about. Versions of Ryu and Ken's SFII themes make well-placed appearances, Street Fighter producer Yoshinoro Ono has a cameo role and the pair even briefly play Mega Man 2 on an NES in between training. Clearly this is was a production for the fans by fans.

At last! Some kind of genuine accuracy in a fighting game movie!

Best of all however is that this is a rare occurence of all the visuals being fully faithful to the source material. The costumes and appearances are all completely authentic and so are the trademark moves from the games which are integrated quite nicely into both the plot and also the fights themselves without looking ridiculous. Special mention must go to Akuma/Gouki (played by Joey Ansah) who looks utterly bad-ass and convincing as the practitioner of the Dark Hadou. You even get to see his famous super move, the Raging Demon!

Tell me that this ain't authentic

The series has now been put together as one long feature (running for about 2 hours) and is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Honestly, I was sceptical at first. I hadn't watched the web series the first time around and I am just as wary of fan projects as I am of big studio productions because there is that risk of falling into a trap of poor special effects and an over-indulgence in personal interests on the part of the director(s)/producer(s). This isn't the case here though. The storyline is entirely faithful and the fights are all practical with special effects reserved for things such as fireballs. I genuinely had no negative comments to make after the credits rolled and it was so refreshing to finally see a fighting game film that wasn't full of inexplicable innaccuracies.

There is a follow-up on the way from the same team and also a live action prologue to the upcoming Street Fighter V which Capcom have stated will form a introductive 'narrative' so it's great to hear that this resounding success wasn't just a one off (I can't wait to see what some of the other characters look like!). In the meantime, I strongly implore anybody who is interested to go and grab the DVD - I purchased mine for just £2.99 brand-new in That's Entertainment (linked with CEX).

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