UHMC: Street Fighter
2015 was and 2016 continues to be a time in movie history of too many remakes, re-imaginations, and sequels way passed a generation to count. Some are passible, few were good, and most have turned out to be awful. I touched up on this a while back in an earlier post. But if you can’t beat them, join them. Right? One of the ways I’ve learned to take my medicine on the subject is to create my own list of the perfect cast, crew, and storyline for some of my favorite previous pop-culture phenomenons that I grew up on. All seem to revolve around classic video games or comic book characters. This post will be no different. Tonight I consider one of the most successful fighting game franchises of all time, which was also one of the worst video game film adaptations of all time. I’m talking about Street Fighter.
If you’re anything like me, you probably spent countless hours at the arcade and/or in front of your SNES familiarizing and then button-mashing your way through the overly easy or overly cheap difficulty settings of the game with Ken, Ryu, E. Honda, Chun-Li, Blanka, Guile, Zangief, Dhalsim, and all the other Street Fighter pioneer characters. Fast forward 25 years and it continues to be one of the most successful fighting game franchises of all time. If any video game franchise deserves an appropriate and respectable movie adaptation, it’s this one. There was a well-produced fan film series that released in 2014 and a second season will premiere later this year, but I’m talking about a mainstream adaptation for the big screen.
My formula remains the same: I name the primary cast of characters along with who I believe would be the best corresponding actors to play them based on their previous work, physical likeness, etc. Then I’ll finish with a plausible storyline and who I believe would best suit the project for writing and directing. This is a little different than UHMC because of all the presumed fight scenes and stunts involved. So maybe this is more of an UHMC of stunt performers than for an actual cast because sadly most stunt performers can’t and don’t act. The only other option is if you go by way of “The Matrix” and have your actors train for over a year before filming.
The cast of the Street Fighter universe has become so vast over the last 25 years so I’m only sticking to the original cast of the 1992 video game in this post. Maybe future UHMC posts with secondary characters will follow.
Here comes a new challenger.
Ryu/Iko Uwais: Indonesian actor and stunt man best known for his roles in “The Raid” films. If you haven’t seen them, I highly recommend them. Always playing very zen (or at least trying to be zen) characters who after not so much encouragement can beat your ass faster than you can say his name.
Ken/Matt Mullins: This is absolutely a stunt casting. Super talented martial artist but can’t act two licks. If you’re not familiar with his work, check out the clip below fighting Michael Jai White (my casting choice for Balrog.)
Guile/Jeremy Renner: Already nominated for an Oscar twice. Between his roles in “The Hurt Locker,” “Mission Impossible 5,” and “The Bourne Legacy,” this guy has already played the American Air Force Colonel several times over. Who better to bring the role to life? We’ve already seen him do it.
Chun-Li/JeeJa Yanin: Thai actress and stunt performer Jeeja Yanin is best known as the lead role in “Chocolate.” Yes, that’s the actual name of the movie. She plays a young girl with a neurological disorder who becomes a master mimic of martial arts movements. In the real world she is quite literally the female version of Tony Jaa.
Dhalsim/Irrfan Khan: A stellar Indian actor known for his roles in “Life of Pi,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Jurassic World,” I think Iffran would nail Dhalsim’s peaceful outside and badass inside simultaneously. If you’ve ever seen the Street Fighter anime series, which I consider the best adaptation of the game to date, it is he who introduces Ryu and Ken to the power of the “Hado.”
E. Honda/Hiroyuki Sanada: This casting is tricky. This would primarily be for an “acting” choice and not a stunt choice. Perhaps put in a body double of an actual sumo wrestler and keep his voice a la Doug Jones in “Pan’s Labyrinth” but in reverse. Best known (to me) in his role in “The Last Samurai,” Sanada gives off strength and wisdom with a temper on screen.
M. Bison/Liev Schreiber: So this guy oozes creepy and charismatic at the same time. Under the right direction, he can also lead to downright fascistic insanity. The character I envision would be like Kevin Spacey in the opening scene of “Man of Steel.” Saying and doing whatever he has to, as nicely as possible, to get what he wants. Once he has it, he’ll turn it around on all those with him or against him in his rule of Shadowloo. His voice alone can scare you into submission.
Sagat/Nathan Jones: Former pro-wrestler turned actor, Nathan Jones is a monster of a human being just like the Street Fighter Muay Thai champion. Believe it or not, he’s done quite a few films in Thailand and has even gone up against Tony Jaa. Problem is, how do you get a guy who’s over 7 feet and 350 lbs. to kick above the knee?
Vega/Jared Leto: Oscar winner and chameleon actor known for very outside the box roles. I’m very excited to see his portrayal of The Joker in “Suicide Squad” later this year. But between his roles in “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Requiem For A Dream,” I’d love to see his interpretation of the narcissistic Spanish ninja.
Balrog/ Michael Jai White: Who else could it have been? He had a bit part in “The Dark Knight,” and has been involved in several low-budget martial arts films. But his best performance for me was his role in a fan film based on another video game fighting franchise, “Mortal Kombat.” MJW would emulate Balrog perfectly in my mind. I see him as a combatant of authority first and foremost. As a pro boxer, this attitude gets his license revoked and is recruited by M. Bison Shadowloo’s take on world domination. Like Kanye and Floyd Mayweather Jr. rolled into one sadistic egomaniac.