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This is how things used to happen back in the pre-internet day: no year-long lead-ins, no laughably overstated press releases, just hey, how you doing, so there's a new Street Fighter movie out this week. On Tuesday, teaser footage found its way to the screens of every fighting-game fan on the internet (including ours, obviously); now it's Thursday and here's the movie. Why can't all releases be this understated? Here's the movie. Plug in some headphones, bump it up to 1080p and have a watch.
Now, obviously there's a reason this could get such a stealthy release: it's only three minutes long, was clearly made on a well-spent shoestring budget, and the cast's biggest claim to fame is that Joey Ansah, who plays Akuma for just over a second, was in the third Bourne movie. But then again, he was also the film's creator, co-writer, co-director and choreographer, so he's a busy man. A driven one, too: Ansah's love for the franchise and frustration with second-rate movie adaptations of fighting games were what saw him lobby to get the film developed and produced, eventually winning the endorsement of Capcom themselves.
The film succeeds for the same reason Street Fighter does: by knowing that three minutes is about as long as you can take this stuff seriously. Everything about Street Fighter Legacy – the MTV editing, lush photography, Spartan level of dialogue, even the actors' uber-brooding line readings – is designed to deliver a quick sensory overload then move on. Even stretched to twice the runtime, it's easy to imagine flaws starting to show. And the movie's très-2010 style of presentation, while a welcome break from the hackery of previous adaptations, doesn't have the same timeless distinctiveness of the games. But that's a pretty harsh comparison: Street Fighter Legacy manages to look comparable to Super Street Fighter IV for three minutes, and the latter had the full weight of Capcom's finances, resources and talent, whereas all these guys had is the company's blessing.
Ansah intends Street Fighter Legacy to stand as its own entity. But obviously if the project were to garner enough positive attention, its makers would stand a better chance of parlaying the film's success into further Street Fighter-themed cinematic exploits, either proving the “it's great because it's only three minutes long” thesis wrong or dragging around the middle and making me look all the cleverer. But either way, they certainly deserve a shot - so tell your friends, leave some favorable comments, send Ansah some love and get this ball rolling.
And here's hoping if they get the chance to expand Legacy into more movies, Jackie Chan gets to reprise his role as Chun Li:
May 6, 2010