Street Fighter: Assassins Fist Review

August 2nd, 2014 -

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The Street Fighter canon has suffered from a very confusing past. Hollywood has proven that it can’t take the source material seriously with their last minute produced Street Fighter (1994) and the train wreck that was The Legend of Chun Li (2009). Saturday morning cartoons have pandered to an audience that doesn’t require quality control, and even the games themselves rarely take their own fiction seriously. A few of the animes are watchable, but it feels like the only people who treat the characters and their back stories with respect are the writers at Udon Comics. At this point, it seems like all hope is lost for a serious adaptation of anything Street Fighter.

In 2010 a company by the name of Streetlight Films released a tribute video to this beloved franchise, which at face value is nothing special (YouTube is littered with fan videos of Street Fighter). The difference between Legacy and the others is its production quality. The martial arts choreography was superior to any other fan made YouTube film, and the core concept was more than just fan service. Rather than cramming tons of quotes from the game or cheesy lines from the anime into it, they let the film speak for itself. Street Fighter Legacy had the right balance of gritty realism and the supernatural to fit within the universe of Capcom’s infamous fighting franchise.

Despite being received quite well, I had a few reservations about it and I nitpicked it as any good YouTuber would. Furthermore, when they announced that Street Fighter Legacy would become a web series, I was rightfully concerned. Considering Street Fighter’s live action history, I was only left with one conclusion. 4 years later and here I am, taking the time to write a review about this web series. So, is this a really good thing or a horrible thing no one should ever speak of again. (Poor Mortal Kombat, you deserved better.) Well, I’m happy to report that Street Fighter: Assassins Fist takes great pride in handling the source material and offers Street Fighter fans something they can finally be proud of in the live action world. The series has great casting, clever cinematography and a great choice of story. Assassins Fist will make you laugh, smile, cheer and even shed a tear. This is not just a well told Street Fighter story, it’s a story that anyone can enjoy.

The main story of this (spoiler free) follows Ryu and Ken in their 10+ year training under master Gouken. The series also weaves in the origin story of Gouken and his brother Goki, which explains why Ryu and Ken are training in the martial arts style of Ansatsuken (English Translation: Assassins Fist). The story also does a great job of explaining Ryu and Ken’s complicated friendship as well as Gouken’s struggle with good vs evil. Even though this is a serious story about martial arts, it takes time to stop and offer some great laughs. The “old man from across the river” is one of my favorite characters from this series.

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Everything in this oozes Street Fighter from the costume designs, set designs and the cleverly choreographed 2D style fight scenes. Most, if not all of the fights take place on a linear plain. Fighters rarely side step or walk around the “arena.” This is subtle but an effective way to make the fights feel more like the game. Aside from the perspective, most of the moves are directly ripped from various Street Fighter games. The character introductions before a fight are done tastefully, Ryu executes parries like Daigo Umehara, and throws are done front to back rather than side to side. The time that it took to choreograph these moves on a linear plain and still convey a compelling fight scene must have been insane, but the series is infinitely better for it.

Honestly, my only complaint about this series is that there isn’t more. More what? More everything. The foundation is perfect and now I want to see more of these characters, new characters, new storylines and more of that crazy racist old man from across the river. Viewers unfamiliar with Ryu and Ken’s upbringing will most likely be let down by the lack of familiar faces. The whole story revolves around Ryu, Ken, Gouken, Goki and Gotetsu. Which means no Chun Li, no Guile, no Zangief, and no E Honda despite the over saturation of Honda ads (opportunity missed?). This may come as a bit of a shock, but from a storytelling perspective, this was the mature choice. You can either make the same mistakes that all of the other films before you have made (trying to cram all of the characters into one story), or you can pick one story and tell the hell out of that story. Thankfully, they chose the latter.

If you consider yourself any kind of Street Fighter fan, or if you’re just a fan of great Kung Fu movies, you need to check out Street FIghter Assassins Fist.  There are still so many stories to be told and if they take the same care and passion that they did with Assassins Fist, we’re in for a treat. We only score video games, but since this series is being released on blu ray, I have to say: Buy it. I’ve watched this series twice; once by myself, once with my girlfriend, and I’m already excited to watch it a third time.

Watch the whole series below!

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