Before we even begin with this week's Stay Indoors Saturday, take a moment, and watch the original trailer for the film. All done? Great.
It is this trailer, and the marketing wizards responsible for it, that has led to this film being the Rosetta Stone of shitty video game movie adaptations.
The reasoning behind this global misconception? In our humblest opinion: Most people don't realize this film was fully intended to be a comedy. From the first moments of the credits rolling in Space Balls era Mel Brooks font, to the final frame in the film when all of the characters have magically ended up in their video game specific costumes, this film had to be conceived, produced, and executed as a comedy. Right?
Judging from the ranges of performances in this film, you'd think that Raul Julia was the only actor the director informed that Street Fighter: The Movie was actually a gag. We'll get to the many, many amazing incidents of Tex Avery inspired camp, but first: the food.
We could have designed a meal based on the geography of each one of Street Fighter's multi-ethnic roster of combatants, but we couldn't figure out how to do it without coming off as crazy racist. Also, I'm lazy.
The best way to celebrate a film based on a video game about a global fighting tournament with the barest pre-tense of plot? Create a menu based on some of our favorite street food: fish tacos and elote. Elote varies regionally in the U.S., but the most widely recognized incarnation usually involves smothering roasted corn on the cob in crumbly farmer's cheese, heroic amounts of mayonnaise, chili powder, and lime. The finished product should look something like this:
Decadent enough to have been snaked from the table of some XXL pantheon of obese demigods. Still, fuck me, life-threateningly delicious. They pave the streets of Mexico City with these things. (It makes driving both dangerous and delectable.) For the fish tacos, we went with a super simple California incarnation. Any regional disputes about what constitutes a fish taco, we refer you to this handy guide. Now, to the film.
Jean-Claude Van Damme and the problem with consanants
Van Damme accepted the role of Guile at the zenith of his action star career. 1994 saw both Time Cop and Street Fighter hit theaters and Van Damme had recently released Universal Solider and Hard Target the year before. Yes, it seems as if the '90s couldn't possibly get enough shots of Van Damme executing his trademark split.
(Contractually obligated to occur once every 15 minutes during the '90s)
Van Damme seems to be the only member of the cast to remain clueless about the movie's intent. He remains the dramatic foil in a film dripping with ham. Also, you can't understand a fucking word he says. All of his lines are articulated with as much finesse as a ball-gagged hostage demanding their own ransom over a barely functioning payphone. From the first "Yuh've last yur bawlsh" (you've lost your balls) to "Son hof ha beetch" (son of a bitch), Van Damme's cluelessness propels the film instantly and permanently into the realm of hard comedy. It's too bad nobody bothered to tell him. He delivers his dialogue with such sincerity; it merely serves to heighten all of the comedy existing around him, fueling the many, many sub-plots crammed into the film. Speaking of which...
Blanka and the case of force-fed exposition
Nearly every character from Super Street Fighter II Turbo (no Fei-Long, WTF!) makes an appearance in the film. They are all introduced, by name, just to make sure we all know how deeply loyal the director is remaining to the source material. Raul Julia, in one of his many scene-chewingly superb appearances, addresses Vega and Sagat by delivering the following,
"Thank you Vega and Sagat." Just in case you missed it.
Similarly T.Hawk, Dee Jay, and Balrog are all adressed out loud, by name, in the most unnatural way possible. Just so we all know exactly what's happening. For a moment I forgot I was watching a comedy, and then I'm gently reminded when presented with these images:
The forced exposition unceremoniously mashed into the film like applesauce before nap-time seems like an unnecessary layer of work on the part of writer/director Steven E. de Souza. The man actually made his job as a writer more difficult, but we need to remember, of course, that this is a work of comedy. Don't believe me? Reference the image below. Those are IV bags filled with what very clearly read "DNA Mutagens" and "Anabolic Plasma." Neither of those things are real, but by the Mountain Dew colored fluids hanging in the bag, it should be clear to everyone that this film's narrative blueprint was stolen directly from early Bugs Bunny cartoons. As an aside, these Capri Sun colored science chemicals are used to turn Guile's army buddy, Charlie, into Blanka by a Dr. Dhalsim. Let's have a non canon slow clap for cognitive dissonance.
Raul Julia and the true face of acting genius
Raul Julia was suffering from lung cancer throughout the entire filming of Street Fighter: The Movie and the film would be remembered as the last one Julia made before losing his battle. This film, and his brilliantly ham-faced performance, would be the last entry in Julia's career. It is only after re-watching this film, in a comedic context, that we finally understand how great the loss of Julia is to the acting world. In a production full of barely intelligible dialogue, sets that a porn director would deem low-rent, and sharing screen time with walking erection in the form of JCVD, Raul Julia shone like a falcon set ablaze by a dying star.
I mean, look at that face. He's acting so hard. In a film riddled with laughable nonsense, Julia remained a consummate boss.
Street Food: Fish Tacos & Elote
Pick out your favorite fish, tortillas, and toppings and you are good to go. Tilapia, mahi-mahi, and cod are good taco standards. We used Paiche, which is a mild fresh water fish from South America. I cut the fish into bite sized pieces and tossed them in olive oil and taco seasoning. Then I sauteed the fish on the stove top until it was firm and flaky (around 10 minutes). For the toppings, we made a simple cabbage slaw, a mild salsa verde with tomatillos, and some pickled red onions. Just assemble and eat!
1/2 half head red or green cabbage
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup mayo
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Shred or thinly slice cabbage as you would for cole slaw. Add mayo and vinegar and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Try and do this first so it can sit and the flavors can meld while you are cooking, or at least 15 min.
Salsa Verde via Homesick Texan
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 or 2 serrano chiles, cut in half, stems removed (depending on how hot you want it)
1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
Salt to taste
Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, serrano chiles and cilantro in a large pot. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil on high. Continue to boil uncovered for 10 minutes or until the tomatillos go from a bright green to a light, muted green. Turn of the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer the pot contents to a blender and blend until smooth. (If you don’t let the vegetables cool, the steam will make the blender lid pop off, which makes for a bit of a mess.) Add salt to taste.
Pickled Red Onions via Bon Appetit
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Bring vinegar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in onion. Let cool. Drain before serving.