The world has watched the events unfolding in the country of Shadaloo with increasing concern, as it has been taken over by a brutal dictator named General Bison (Raul Julia) who is now riding roughshod over any human rights acts he cares to ignore. Now he has an ultimatum: either pay him twenty billion dollars or he will execute a large group of hostages and the world can stand it no more. The Allied Nations sends in its best troops to the area, led by Captain William Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and he makes his mission clear, addressing Bison on television: he's coming to get him!
Oh dear, the history of computer games turned into films is not a pretty one, and Street Fighter was one of the earlier examples of strictly for the money cash-ins that these works consisted of. As it turned out, the first Mortal Kombat movie, while no masterpiece, was the winner at the box office compared to this and since then Street Fighter has gone down as a footnote in history, though more gaming history than movie history. Still, there are those who look back on it with a curious affection, mainly those who played what it was based upon.
However, even for nostalgists this is pretty shoddy stuff, with rather basic moves for the combat and special effects that are never inspired. It's almost as if the filmmakers were reluctant to make their production after securing the rights, as if they hoped they could get away with restaging bits of the original - and how the producers of game movies wish they could get away with simply filming the footage of someone playing rather than have to go through the terrible trouble of casting actors to fill out the two-dimensional roles.
That said, this does have a strange fascination, not least because of that cast. Maybe you're less than shocked to see Jean-Claude Van Damme in this, his other works weren't exactly weightily dramatic, but look who is in support. Pop star Kylie Minogue stands out, apparently present because they were shooting in Australia and she was available, and doing about as well as you'd expect under the circumstances. But then there's respected Indian actor Roshan Seth (who admitted he enjoyed making this, yet walked out when he went to see the result) as a doctor apparently creating a life-size troll doll and Simon Callow as a bureaucrat who tries to stop the "fun". Not to mention former boxer Joe Bugner as a torturer and actual "Gooood morning Vietnam" man Adrian Cronauer as the D.J.
So that has novelty, if nothing else, but what really brings down the enterprise is the appearance of Raul Julia, who did not have long to live when he was making this. He looks gaunt and unwell throughout, and in spite of bravely rallying to go over the top as the script demands, you can't help but wince when he's called on to carry out any fighting moves. It's no fun to see him (and his stunt double) taking a beating from Van Damme when you know how sick he was, and the fact that the film is dedicated to him was a nice gesture, but kind of depressing too. Steve E. de Souza was your man bringing this to the screen, and while he had action favourites such as Die Hard and Commando under his scripting belt, here he was evidently aiming for nothing too demanding with this so there is a self-consciously cheesy sense of humour going on that merely points out the deficiencies. One for the bad movie fans, then, but harmless really. Music by Graeme Revell.