We finally have a version of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie that we can be proud of.
Released by: Discotek
Release Date: Jan. 6th, 1996
Region Code: Region A (LOCKED)
Run Time: 1hr 41m
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: LPCM 2.0
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Japanese: LPCM 2.0
Music: Dolby Digital 2.0 (both English and Japanese)
Video: 1080p (1.85:1 Aspect Ratio)
My hobby is to slowly peel the skin off the rabbits I catch, especially cute little bunnies like you. And my friend here is thirsty for blood. -Vega
Sorry that I did not include anything about the language tracks, I don't think that I have seen a release where the language tracks were as important as the special features, so I wasn't ready to talk about them.
Also, the soundtrack (score and music) is different to the one that the Japanese got. Their soundtrack is filled with J-Pop songs and a score that is more introspective than one might expect from a film like this. In the U.S. and U.K., the score was replaced with a more "in your face score"; drums and guitars. The J-Pop was also replaced with songs from rock bands like Alice in Chains and electronic music by KMFDM. The song that plays during the Chun-li fight scene is faster paced and harder hitting in the U.S. and U.K. version than in the Japanese score, which is somber and against the action of the scene.
We also get the Japanese score with the English language soundtrack. This was done exclusively for this release and was one of the most requested things that fans wanted to see (or hear). This allows the fans to have their cake and eat it too.
Also note that the main feature is the full, uncut Japanese original. That means that the violence and nudity are all there. Nothing is missing from this cut of the film.
And last but not least, Discotek has given us an isolated score option pertaining to the Japanese score. I liked that they added this as it gives English speaking fans a chance to hear the score that alluded us all these years, in it's entirety.
THE FEATURES: [3.5 out of 4]
The PG-13 Cut (1h 37m, HD)
When the film hit the states, it premiered on VHS and Laserdisc, the former giving the buyer a choice of which version they wanted: the UNRATED version for the older teens, and a PG-13 version for the younger Street Fighter fans. This is the version that is presented here.
As per the usual, the PG-13 cut removes most of the blood, the language that would give the UK version some infamy and the most controversial and hated removal of all fans: Chun-li nude.
You would think that would be it, but there was more cut from this and the UNRATED American version. Any shot that lingers for than three frames was cut. There is a scene where Ryu and Fei Lung part ways. Fei Lung watches Ryu leave, says something, and then walks away. The camera then lingers on Ryu as he walks further and further away. This last part was cut.
Also, this version has different opening and closing credits that are in English.
Discotek could have easily taken the old Manga Entertainment laserdisc, ripped it, and put it on this disc. They didn’t though. They took the HD remaster that they made of the longer Japanese version of the film, that is the main attraction, and edited down to the PG-13 version. This was a nice surprise. They went the extra mile and I appreciate that.
The PG-13 version can be viewed with either the English score or Japanese score.
-Japanese Trailers (5m 35s, SD, 1.85:1 4x3)
Watching these trailers gives the viewer an idea of how the film was marketed in Japan. One trailer focuses on the opening fight scene from the film. Another trailer focuses on the film’s many soundtrack releases in Japan. The trailer are a pretty nifty watch.
There are 3 trailers
-English Trailers (2m 21s, SD, 1.85:1 4x3)
The first trailer has a terrible narration that reminded me of the narrator Troma uses for their trailers. The trailers focus on all the fight scenes in the film. The second trailer is quick and ends with a guy holding a VHS copy of the film saying “Buy it today” or something like that.
Both of these trailers are from the U.K. Nothing from the American side. I remember every Manga Entertainment VHS I bought or rented showed a trailer for the film with the KMFD music from the Chun-li fight scene playing over footage of the film. Disappointed that we don’t have that here.
There are two trailers.
-Interactive Movie Game Cutscene Collection (14m 7s, SD, 1.85:1 4x3)
There was a game released only in Japan on the Playstation and Sega Saturn that was a tie-in for the film. The game used FMV (Full Motion Video) to tell the story and the footage came from the film. There was some footage that was cut from the film that showed up in the game, but there was also some new animation done for the game.
The footage is ok, showing many different endings for the game where the Monitor Cyborg fights Ryu and wins. All of these alternate endings are just scenes from the last few scenes from the film proper, but the Monitor Cyborg has been added over footage of Ryu.
This is worth a watch, just out of curiosity, but there is nothing earth shattering here.
The footage is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
-English Home Video Opening and Closing Credits (15m 33s, SD, 1.85:1 4x3)
We get a look at the PG-13 and Unrated Version opening credits. They are in English and the only difference is the blood that bursts out of Sagat. We then get the closing credits in English.
What I found odd about this special feature is that it is shown in Standard Definition when there are High Definition versions of these credits found elsewhere on the disc.
-Titleless End Credits (1m 59s, HD)
The film ends as it normally does, but there are no credits as Ryu walks down the street Hulk-style. This is because there is a bit of footage and fans want to be able to see that footage without having the credits over it.
Video Liner Notes
-The Different Cuts (9m 30s, HD)
When the film was released in the mid-90s, there was debate over how many versions there were. Both versions that we got in the states removed the nudity found in the shower scene.
We knew that it existed because we found stills from the scene.
As time went on though, there were rumors that there was additional violence, gore, language, and nudity. We were right about the language (the U.K. version had a few F-bombs added to get the rating that would help the film sell) and the nudity (the Japanese version had the full scene).
We were wrong about the violence and gore, but there was something that we didn’t even think about. As I stated in the section about the PG-13 cut, many scenes were cut down to shorten the run time. These cuts were from scenes that had too much lingering. The thought was that American audiences didn’t care about the character development and that they just wanted to get to the action and to see all of the characters from the game.
This featurette settles all of the rumors once and for all.
I really liked this featurette. I learned way more from these ten minutes than I have from needlessly long interviews found on other blu-rays. Everything is presented very well and it is easy to follow.
-Alternate Takes (6m 8s, HD)
The audio for the three different English language versions differs in some scenes. The PG-13 version is the tamest and the U.K. version is the strongest. The scene between Guile and Deejay has three different audio clips between the different versions.
PG-13: “I heard those guys are hard”
Unrated U.S.: “I heard they are some badass mothers”
U.K.: “I heard they were some badass motherfuckers”
Not all of the scenes with language differences have three, some of the versions kept the lines. It is nice to see the differences, especially when you hear that one version has a word, but another doesn’t. The U.K. seems to be the definitive version of the film, English language speaking.
Text Liner Notes
-Production (10m 6s, SD)
-Translation Notes and Trivia (10m 19s, SD)
-Character Biographies (14m 50s, SD)
There is some good info to be found here, especially in the Translation Notes and Trivia section. These notes playout like still galleries do: you can advance one screen at a time using the chapter select buttons on the remote. You can also pause the screen so you can read it. You could also just let the notes play on their own. It moves slow enough for most readers.
Production Art Galleries
-Key Art (4m 25s, Sd)
-Model Sheets (18m 27s, SD)
-Layouts (9m 22s, SD)
-Move Studies (2m 5s, SD)
These are still galleries, but they do not act like still galleries. They can not be controlled with the remote. They have to be play out in full. If you hit the chapter skip buttons, it will just kick you back to the film.
There is one thing that I would like to address: Any time you back out of a special feature, the menu takes you to the film itself. Usually you will be sent back to a main menu. It was kind of cumbersome having to find my way back to the section I was in to select another special feature. It is not earth shattering or anything like that, but it was a bit annoying.
THE PACKAGING [3.5 out of 4]
The blu-ray case does don the artwork that we have grown accustomed to over the last year of waiting. The case is a non-eco blu-ray case and the artwork is nice. The inner artwork gives us the classic image of Ryu doing a jump kick that was seen on the U.S. VHS and Laserdisc releases. The artwork on the disc is nice as well.
If you born after 1996 then you won’t know what it was like to see the first five films bas on video games. Super Mario Bros was the first and most people will agree that it is a colossal piece of shit. (I am not one of them, though. I like the film, but can see why others hate it) Then came Double Dragon, which no one really talks about and is another film that I like. In 1994 we got the first adaptation of Street Fighter. The film starred Jean Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia and is best known for Julia’s manic performance and Van Damme’s speech to the troops. I really don’t like the film. I think that it is poorly written and brings nothing new to the table while stripping the material of everything it became famous for.
In January on 1996, we got to see what can be arguably seen as the best film based on a video game, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (the “Animated” part was added for the U.S. market because we can’t tell the difference between a live action crap fest (Street Fighter) and a nicely animated film (Street Fighter II).
The film never hit theaters in the U.S., going straight to video. We had two versions to choose from: a PG-13 version that cut out the gore and nudity of the original Japanese version, and an Unrated version that restored the gore but kept the frontal nudity away from us. This being a teenager when this film was released, I had to have the Unrated version because the PG-13 version was for babies. My mother took me to Suncoast Video (a mall sell thru video store) and I was able to get my hands on one of the last copies of the VHS.
I remember watching the film for the first time. Seeing the fight between Ryu and Sagat blew my mind. I had seen anime before, but this one was based on a video game that I had played for a few years. These were characters that I knew. And, best of all, the characters in the film are faithful to their video game counterparts. This was the film that would make me think that video games can make great films (I am guessing that they still can because this is still, 20 years later, the best video game film ever made.)
The film follows a few characters: Ryu is wondering the earth like Cain in Kung Fu; Guile and Chun-li are searching for M. Bison and his cronies; and Ken is hanging out in Seattle, fighting in random street fights and listening to Alice in Chains while driving his Porsche. All of these characters will come together at the end to fight Bison.
All throughout the film, we are introduced to other characters that only have one or two scenes, but are better represented than those joke characters in Street Fighter (1994). Fei Lung is a movie star who fights in underground fights; T. Hawk shows up to fight Ken in dark alley at night; Dhalsim fights E. Honda and loses because he can sense a great fighter than both of them; Cammy is a brainwashed assassin; and Blanka and Zangief fight for the amusement of rich white people. Even though we only get to see these characters for a short time, we know who they are and they get to fight in their own way.
The film is beautifully animated. You can tell that this was given a bigger budget because of the detail in the animation and the scope of the film. The film takes place all over the world and the animators make sure that each of the countries or towns have a different look and feel to them, just in case we go back to that city or country later in the film.
The characters are all very detailed and smoothly animated. The first time that we see Ryu power up his fire ball, chills run down our spines. We would have no idea that a scene like would have so much power. The fight scenes are well done and make sense in terms of direction and blocking. Never once did I feel lost watching any of the fight scenes. Had this been animated by an American animation team, the whole thing would have been a shaky cam feel to it.
I will argue that Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is the best film based on a video yet. The film has strong, well defined characters, a pretty good story, some of which is told through flashback, and great animation. There is something here for everyone, even those who don’t like anime. After 20 years the film still holds up and that is rare for a video game film.
OVERALL: [3.5 out of 4]
Discotek did a bang up job with this blu-ray. While there is no commentary track or making-of documentary, there is a lot of care on display. The picture quality is excellent and the special features, while lacking a bit, are still worth the time. The film is excellent and worth a revisit as well. I just wish that there were more companies that put as much care into their projects as Discotek put into this. Also, unlike most anime, this one will only set you back about $20.