After it was announced that JCVD was high for the duration of Street Fighter, I decided to rewatch it with sobered, modern eyes.
The twelve-year-old me had a lot of problems, and Street Fighter 2 was one of them. As a troubled tween, it was an example to follow. The heroes wore pajamas and punched parked cars to death.
Looking back, the video game also represented my financial original sin, as the dollars that were fed into that pixelated chasm (and the debt totted up at video stores that no longer exist) priced me out of the home market forever. Clearly, I was desirous of anything that was processed by the bowels of Capcom, and for my sins, we were given the Street Fighter movie. Jesus Hadoken Christ.
As a youth, I remember seeing it and being annoyed by the liberties it took with the source material, and as an adult, I couldn’t enjoy it because it was bad. Which is disappointing, as, for a movie that has everything, it has absolutely nothing.
Recently, The Guardian released a piece about the making of Street Fighter, with the main takeaway being that JCVD was on blow for most of the production. Which disappoints me for two reasons. A) It means that he wasn’t just a force of one-liners, and B) The fact that he was able to produce so little in the face (or nose) of mucho yeyo. I mean, it’s punchable barrels to oranges here, but the other epic loosely based on fiction starring a protagonist on drugs shot on location in South East Asia was actually quite good.
Per the Guardian: At one stage in the 1990s, JCVD was hoovering 10g a day; and $10,000 a week. “I couldn’t talk about it at the time, but I can now: Jean-Claude was coked out of his mind,” says the film’s director, Steven de Souza.
I mean, the drugs didn’t assist his performance. Unless it allowed him to do this for realises.
Honestly, Guile was a bit of an icon of mine. He had hair goals, and he proved that each bully could be dispatched with a flash kick. On the back of this news, he’s disappointingly turned into those bullies I went to school with. He’s just another buff cokehead in pursuit of cryptocurrency. Bison Dollars > Bitcoin.
It also features a Potemkin collection of law-enforcers, a coalition of nations proudly laying down their lives in order to whitewash the world. Outside of the Muscles from Brussels playing an American, we had an American-Samoan play a Japanese Sumo, an American-Dominican playing a Jamaican and Ramsay Street’s finest attempting her best cockney. None of which worked, but they achieved their aims. White power. I guess?
At the end of the film, after Van Damme blows up the everything, an explosion of violence with leaves all the characters dressed as they would be in the video game for some reason, the final choice he has to make is which woman to bang first. Women are treated as sexual slaves, ethnicity is treated as a street to not visit. It seems fertile ground for criticism, but no.
Maybe that is its greatest legacy. Not the nonsense that it was, or that circled around while it was being made, but rather the fact that it just isn’t worth spending your currency. It’s worth letting the character count down to zero and getting back to your life.
Considering our hyper-super-mega-powers of internet criticism, it’s no mean feat. Maybe if they took more care with it, we’d be angrier about it. It sits in a murky level of just being out of range of our thousand-palm outrage.
It’s not bad, it’s just shit.
Raul Julia deserved better, as he had to fight Jean Claude and cancer at the same time.
Vaya con Dios, Bison.