Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (Japan 1994)

Rating: ****

Capcom's hit video game gets adapted to anime with surprisingly good results. Bison and his cronies are up to no good, so Colonel Guile and Interpol agent Chun Li are out to shut him down. Ken and Ryu also have some differences to settle between themselves. The gang's all here, but with such a huge cast, many of the characters are reduced to brief cameo status (Dhalsim, Blanka, Zangief, Cammy, Fei Long, T-Hawk, and DeeJay). The animation is slick and the fighting scenes are spectacular. It's primarily a macho flick, but Chun Li definitely steals the show with her awe inspiring tussle with Vega. Great stuff! The English dubbing is tolerable, and music by Alice In Chains, Silverchair, and KMFDM is thrown in to please adolescent American audiences. Unfortunately, even the supposedly "uncut" American version of the film leaves out the best bits of Chun Li's gratuitous shower scene, which is pretty annoying. Highly recommended for fans of martial arts action.

Notes On The Anchor Bay Release: It only took twelve years for the original uncut Japanese version to get released in America, and it's a mixed bag. While it's nice to hear the original Japanese voices, some of them are surprisingly flat and inappropriate. The worst of the bunch is Bison (Vega in Japan), who does not have a commanding or powerful voice at all. The Japanese soundtrack is also surprisingly bland, and has a few terribly cheezy ballads included. As much as I hate to admit it, the pumped up American soundtrack does a much better job of setting the pace and emotional tone. The DVD transfer is a little blurry and the colors are dark and muted. This is frustrating because the previous DVD release suffered from major aliasing issues. The American laserdisc is still the best way to watch this classic, even if you don't get to see Chun Li's naughty bits.

Notes On The Capcom Blu-Ray Release: The Blu-ray version of the movie is sadly the worst version I've seen, which is totally inexcusable. Not only is it the awful censored American version, but the aspect ratio is stretched and it looks like the source was encoded from a VHS master. The aliasing issues from the original DVD release aren't present, but the picture is blurry, the colors are washed out, and there are highly noticeable compression artifacts and frame shearing problems. Amazingly, the laserdisc is still the best viewing experience for the film, and even the DVD that I made from the LD looks better than the Blu-ray version. This is unacceptable, and the film deserves much better.

Notes On The Discotek Blu-Ray Release: Finally! The Discotek Blu-ray is the definitive release of the film, which includes every US, UK, and Japanese version, along with multiple soundtracks and optional subtitles. The lines are sharp and the picture quality is excellent, although the original film grain is quite noticeable.