Street Fighter! For fans of the franchise the words caused the blood to pump, the fingers to twitch, and a grin to cross their lips. It’s been going strong for almost 30 years since the introduction of the original “Street Fighter” video game in 1987. But it wasn’t until 1991 when its sequel “Street Fighter II” hit the arcades that the phenomenon truly took hold. From there it exploded into expansion after expansion, adding characters, adding and fine-tuning moves, and deepening gameplay. It expanded its lore through other media like anime and manga. It even got the Hollywood treatment, although with less than favorable results. And that brings us to Joey Ansah and Christian Howard’s “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist,” quite possibly the best live-action adaptation of any fighting game.
I’ve been a fan of these guys since there initial short, “Street Fighter: Legacy.” As soon as I saw it I knew they were true fans of the game. Just that fight between Ryu (Jon Foo) and Ken (Christian Howard) displayed their passion for the material. That same passion is evident in this expansion of their initial idea. Here Ryu (now played by Mike Moh) and Ken (Howard reprising the role) have been studying under their master Gouken (Akira Koieyama) for years and are starting to yearn for more advanced skills. After proving they have felt the ki (inner energy) they move their training to Gouken’s ancestral dojo.
What unfolds is the tragic tale of the practitioners of the Ansatsuken (Assassin’s Fist) martial arts style. A cycle that spans not only Ryu and Ken, but their Master Gouken and his brother and rival Gouki (Gaku Space). Gouki’s use of the forbidden arts caused him to become the dreaded Akuma (Joey Ansah), the ultimate fighter. The story is actually very well-written. It flows effortlessly and explains without boring exposition and the many flashbacks aren’t jarring but feel like a natural progression of the story.
But as good as the story is, it’s the little things that really made the show work. A name drop here and there and the authenticity of the moves — and not just the special ones. My friend Virgil and I sat through the whole season and the longer we watched the more stuff showed up. The signature bounce Ryu and Ken have gets a cool introduction and there are a few other cool surprises. The best part is that the fights are just how you’d imagine a live-action “Street Fighter” movie would look like. Though there are basically only a handful of fighters and they’re all using the same style, they never feel repetitive, which is a testament to what Ansah, Howard, and company have put together. When it ends it could very easily run right into the “World Warrior” storyline involving the tournament.
“Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist” clocks in at just over 2 1/2 hours. The plan is to release it on YouTube, on TV and then Blu-Ray and DVD, so it can be watched episodically or as a movie. I’m personally buying one to watch it uninterrupted. If you haven’t seen “Assassin’s Fist” yet, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
- Mike Moh as Ryu
- Christian Howard as Ken Masters
- Akira Koieyama as Gouken
- Shogen Itokazu as Young Gouken
- Gaku Space as Gouki
- Hyunri Lee as Sayaka
- Togo Igawa as Goutetsu
- Mark Killeen as Mr. Masters (Ken’s father)
- Hal Yamanouchi as Senzo
- Joey Ansah as Akuma
- Yoshinori Ono as Ono