Title: Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist
Director: Joey Ansah
Writer: Joey Ansah & Christian Howard
Distributed By: Content Media Corp.
Starring: Mike Moh, Christian Howard, Akira Koieyama, Joey Ansah, Togo Igawa
Release Date: May 23, 2014
For any fan of the Street Fighter franchise all we’ve wanted is to one day see a proper live action representation of some of our favorite characters from the video game series. The first one came in 1994, which seemed more like a bad parody film, and then in 2009 came another less than stellar live action attempt. It seemed as if fans would just have to be happy with the various games and animated movies for anything resembling a proper and enjoyable Street Fighter experience.
Well, with Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist your wait for a quality live action Street Fighter experience is finally over! In its twelve webisodes Assassin’s Fist captures more of the heart and soul of the franchise than any of those previous films ever did. By going with the “less is more” formula we’re treated to a cohesive and true representation of Ryu (Mike Moh) and Ken (Christian Howard) in their early years as they train with Master Gouken (Akira Koieyama). As their journey to learning how to master Ansatuken progresses, we learn about the history of Gouken and his brother Goki (Gaku Space), who will one day become one of the deadliest fighters in the Street Fighter mythology, Akuma (Joey Ansah).
The story itself isn’t just filled with Hadokens and over the top fight choreography. Writers Ansah and Howard push for character development over everything we see here. The relationships between the characters matter, and each one is displayed with a serious and respectful approach to the mythology. Akira Koieyama’s performance as Gouken pretty much steals the show at almost every turn. Togo Igawa also is one scary sensei as Gotetsu. Moh and Christian also deliver very solid performances as Ryu and Ken. It did take a bit longer for Christian to win me over as one of my favorite characters, but by the end of it all he captures the role. Also the decision to have some of the dialogue in Japanese just gives it a much more organic feel than if everything was in English.
There is one area of the series that seemed to fall a little flat to me during a scene where Ryu and Ken head out to the local bar for some fun. It seemed to be thrown in solely as a change of pace in terms of location, but really could have been left out. What bothered me wasn’t the cliché act of two young and headstrong martial artists going into a bar filled with American soldiers. You want and expect shenanigans and a solid fight scene. But the scene leaves you unsatisfied in its execution. Especially when compared to how well the story moves before and afterwards.
As far as the action goes, there isn’t one badly choreographed fight scene in this film. Not only do Christian and Moh capture the character of Ken and Ryu, but their fighting personalities as well. From their fighting stances to attacks and signature moves from the game, they ARE Ken and Ryu. Fight Choreographer Joey Ansah gives you just as much characterization in the fighting styles as you’ll get from the dialogue. He also delivers a fierce Akuma when he challenges his Master, Gotetsu, which also gives us a glimpse of Akuma’s world famous finishing move, Raging Demon. The special effects are also used sparingly, but very well when it comes to the signature moves. Basically being used to add that familiar flair to the attacks rather than over exaggerate them like in the previous big budget films. There’s even a more realistic version of the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku that both actors make look very cool onscreen.
The music from the game is used just as well and effectively throughout the movie. Sounding very 80s but definitely bringing on those nostalgic feelings for you longtime Street Fighter fans. Which you don’t have to be to actually follow the story here. Everything that is laid out may be familiar to some, but there are also quite a bit of new story elements here that will keep both the new and seasoned fans entertained.
Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist is evidence of how great a live action interpretation can be when done by people who have a respect and admiration for the source material. Hopefully this is just the beginning of what we can expect from Ansah and Howard, because Assassin’s Fist is just too good to be their only look into the world of Street Fighter! Kudos to the entire team and everyone involved in bringing this to the masses!
The episodes are available online now so do yourself a favor and go watch!