The cast of Street Fighter II originally featured a single female character. Her name is Chun-Li, she hails from China, and she entered the tournament to seek out and defeat M. Bison, as he was responsible for the death of her father. It didn't take long for Chun-Li to become one of the most popular characters in the game. Her speed made her one of the best characters to use, and her Lightning Kick could be deadly in anyone's hands. Chun-Li also helped to break the mold set by other female characters in gaming. She wasn't some damsel in distress who was waiting to be rescued; Chun-Li was a force to be reckoned with, who never let anyone or anything get in the way of her mission.
We are here today to look into the life of the first lady of fighting games. From her connections to the Capcom multiverse, to her unique ability to choose her own fate.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Chun-Li!
15 The Chun-Li Cameos
Chun-Li is tied with Ryu when it comes to cameo appearances in games outside of Street Fighter. She normally appears alongside Ryu as a representative of the series. Ryu is only in one more Street Fighter game than Chun-Li is, as she did not appear in the first game in the series.
Capcom has used Chun-Li in many of their games, where she often makes cameo appearances. Chun-Li appears with Guile in Final Fight 2, where she can be spotted eating a bowl of ramen in the Hong Kong level. She can be seen during the intro of Mega Man 9, where she is the local television news reporter. It is possible to see Chun-Li practicing her attacks in the original Breath of Fire for the Super Nintendo, should you visit the town of Bleak and pay the magician. Chun-Li also appeared in one of the DLC endings of Asura's Wrath, where she arrests Kalrow.
14 Chun-Li Goes To War
One of the things that attributed to the success of Street Fighter II was its cast of varied characters, who were all visually distinct and played differently from each other. The exception to this was Ryu and Ken, though they also became more distinct in later games in the series. This was important, as fighting games before this tended to keep the characters as grounded as possible, with lots of Street Fighter's predecessors focusing on real life martial arts tournaments as the setting for the game.
The Street Fighter II cast went through a few different designs during development. Blanka, for example, was originally going to look like Tiger Mask (a famous Japanese professional wrestler). This look would later be adopted by King of the Tekken series. Vega was originally going to be a member of the Knights Templar and wielded a sword in battle. Chun-Li's original design was that of an army soldier, which resembled Vasquez from Aliens. A military themed female fighter would later appear in the form of Cammy.
13 Chun-Li Was Weakened In Street Fighter II
Street Fighter II is often credited with creating the fighting game genre. It wasn't the first game of its kind, but it was definitely the one that brought the genre into the mainstream and helped to codify the rules for the other titles that followed. The fighting game genre has recently received a resurgence of popularity, due to the rise of Esports and the ease in which players can find opponents online.
When it comes to the competitive level of fighting games, it is usually the fast characters that come out on top. Characters like Fox McCloud and Sheik (from the Smash Bros. series) will usually dominate the games that they appear in. This is true of Chun-Li, who has consistently been one of the best competitive Street Fighter characters since her debut.
In the Street Fighter series, Chun-Li possesses the ability to flip backward and forwards from the enemy, which can lead into combos. She was originally supposed to have this ability in Street Fighter II, though the developers dummied this attack out, as they felt it unbalanced the gameplay. Chun-Li's flipping attacks would be restored in the Champion Edition of the game.
12 Chun-Li Loves Ryu
The massive success of Street Fighter II led to it becoming a multimedia franchise. Street Fighter has spawned live action films, animated TV shows, comics, toys, clothes, and every piece of merchandise that you could imagine.
One of the most infamous adaptations of Street Fighter II was the comic series that was released by Malibu in 1993. This is the comic where Ken has his scalp cut off with a knife and sent to Ryu in a box.
In the Malibu Street Fighter comics, Chun-Li used to train with Ryu and Ken, before she joined the police. In the first issue, Chun-Li makes it known that she has fallen for Ryu. She throws herself at him, only to be rebuffed. The third (and final) issue of the series reveals that the two would have ended up in a romantic relationship, had the comic been allowed to continue. Thankfully, Capcom pulled the plug on this dud of a comic before it could ruin more of Street Fighter II's characters.
11 The Street Fighter Cinematic Universe
The first Street Fighter movie earned a reputation for being so bad that it's good, which has helped to create a cult fanbase for the film. For all of its shortcomings, the movie does have some funny moments and quotable lines.
In 2009, another Street Fighter movie was released, which wasn't connected to the original in any way. It was called Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and it focused on the titular character. Unlike its predecessor, this movie is just bad. It seemingly went out of its way to make all of the characters as different from their game counterparts as possible, with M. Bison being an Irish gangster that lacks any supernatural powers.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li was a critical and commercial flop. It seems that the filmmakers had high hopes for it, as the movie ends on a sequel hook, where Chun-Li is sent to meet a man named Ryu. Had the film been a success, then we may have seen a Street Fighter cinematic universe, with a string of movies that followed individual characters, which led to a team movie.
10 The Best Chun-Li Player
Chun-Li's speed and range of chainable attacks make her one of the best characters in Street Fighter. You need to be a skilled player in order to play a fast character like Chun-Li, however, as it requires instincts and fast reflexes, so that you can make the most of her agility.
One of the best Chun-Li players in the world is a man named Mike Begum, who has proven that you don't even need to use your hands to become great with Chun-Li.
Mike Begum was born with a condition that prevented the bones and muscles in his arms & legs from growing. He didn't let this get in the way of his fighting game career, as Mike became the #1 ranked Chun-Li player in the world in the online mode of Ultra Street Fighter IV. Mike plays the game using only his mouth on the joypad and he has crushed everyone who has opposed him.
9 The Short Second Life Bar Of Chun-Li
Chun-Li refers to herself as the strongest woman in the world. Her admirers (both in-game and in the real world) also call her the most beautiful woman in the world. She helped to inspire all of the other female fighting game characters that followed her, as Chun-Li proved that a gender divide didn't need to exist in the video game world.
This might not have been the case, had Yoshiki Okamoto gotten his way. During the development of Street Fighter II, he wanted to give Chun-Li a shorter life bar, to reflect the fact that women were physically weaker than men. The only reason this was not included was due to another developer on the game protesting the idea. Had this person not complained, then Chun-Li may have become a demonstrably weaker character than the rest of the Street Fighter II cast and may not have become as big a pop culture icon as she did.
8 Jackie Chan Loves Chun-Li
In 1993, Jackie Chan starred in an action/comedy movie called City Hunter. The film is not as well remembered as any of Jackie Chan's biggest hits, or even the movies he made for the international market. City Hunter is mainly known for a scene where an accident involving a Street Fighter II arcade cabinet causes the characters from the game to come to life.
When Jackie Chan gets electrocuted and thrown into an arcade machine, it causes the characters from Street Fighter II to appear. A real life version of Ken fights off E. Honda and Dhalsim. Jackie Chan then leaps into action, whilst wearing a Chun-Li outfit. To his credit, he has the mannerisms of the character down perfectly. Chan-Li fights off Ken using her attacks from the game and finishes him off with a Spinning Bird Kick. This movie is great for people who want to see some live action Street Fighter goodness... or who want to check out Jackie Chan's luscious legs.
7 Chun-Li Vs. The Kingpin
Chun-Li has always been one of Capcom's representatives in their crossover games. This means that Chun-Li has teamed up with some unusual characters, like Rogue from X-Men in the X-Men vs. Street Fighter games, Morrigan from Darkstalkers in Project X Zone, and Ling Xiaoyu from Tekken in Project X Zone 2.
The Marvel vs. Capcom series has always included Chun-Li. While she might be an awesome character in the Street Fighter series, Chun-Li has often struggled to fight against ranged spammers like Cable, Iron Man, and Storm.
In Chun-Li's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, she is seen arresting the Kingpin from Spider-Man/Daredevil. It is clear that the Kingpin has had the crap beat out of him, which means that he wasn't quite prepared to face the wrath of the Lightning Kick. We can only hope that Chun-Li takes the time to beat up Foggy in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
6 Chun-Li's Real Name
The version of Chun-Li that appeared in the Street Fighter movie shared the same goal as her video game counterpart, as she wanted revenge for the murder of her father, who was killed by M. Bison. She is a journalist in the movie, instead of a police officer like she is in the games. Chun-Li works with E. Honda and Balrog, in order to get close to M. Bison's criminal organization.
Street Fighter is not considered to have any continuity links to the video game series. The two iterations of Street Fighter have only been linked by quotes, such M. Bison in the games referencing the famous "Tuesday" line from the film. One aspect of the film which is likely not part of the canon is Chun-Li's name, as it is revealed to be Chun-Li Zang. The Street Fighter games have always stated that Chun-Li is her full name, and the Zang part is simply an invention of the film.
5 The Shadow Lady
The Street Fighter franchise has introduced some evil variants of its characters. The most well-known is Evil Ryu, which is what happens when Ryu is possessed by evil energy and loses his mind. There is also Violent Ken, who is an evil version of Ken that was created from M. Bison's brainwashing techniques.
Marvel vs. Capcom introduced an evil version of Chun-Li, known as Shadow Lady. At first glance, Shadow Lady might seem like a lazy idea, as she is literally just Chun-Li with a dark filter placed over her character sprite. Shadow Lady is actually a lot more different than you might think, as she possesses a range of unique attacks and abilities. It is possible for Shadow Lady to fire missiles from her back, create giant drills for hands, and to make a barrier made of electricity. She can also perform a triple jump and has her own finishing move, called the Final Mission.
4 Chun-Li's Game
The Street Fighter franchise has always been about an ensemble cast. This means that there is no main character and the player is free to stick with whatever fighter they like. One of the few Street Fighter characters to ever star in a game is Ken, as he was the protagonist of Street Fighter 2010. This was a totally unrelated Capcom action game for the NES, which was changed for its international release to be connected to Street Fighter.
Chun-Li has also starred in her own title, though it is not a true video game as we know it. In Japan, there is a popular pinball/slot machine style of game called Pachinko. These sometimes include animated movies which progress in certain ways depending on your score. Chun-Li starred in Chun-Li ni makase China, which was a pachinko slot game that showed her fighting various foes from the Street Fighter series. This game isn't likely to be released outside of Japan and only scraps of footage exist of it in action.
3 The Reason For Chun-Li's Creation
It was difficult to tell in the days of the 2D Street Fighter games, but Chun-Li has massive thighs. This is more obvious in the official artwork for the series. Chun-Li's physical attributes became more pronounced in the 3D Street Fighter titles, as the technology finally existed to truly realize her design on the screen.
The reason Chun-Li has such big thighs is due to her training, as most of her attacks are based around kicks. You would need some strong leg muscles to pull off the Lightning Kick for more than a few seconds. While that explanation for her design might seem logical enough, there is a more perverted reason for Chun-Li's figure.
Yoko Shimomura once asked Chun-Li's creator, Akira Yasuda, about why Chun-Li's legs are so big. According to Shimomura, Yasuda went on a long rant about his big thigh fetish, which left her feeling uncomfortable. It seems that Akira Yasuda loves big thighs and he cannot lie.
2 The Chun-Li Editions
Street Fighter II helped to create the fighting game genre as we know it. It also led to a slew of imitators, that were all compared unfavorably to the king of fighting games. Some games went in their own direction like the ultra-violent Mortal Kombat, whilst others focused on matches that featured more than two characters, like Smash Bros.
The Street Fighter II anime movie was also a trendsetter in a lot of ways. It managed to be way better than the live action Street Fighter movies, whilst sticking closer to the canon of the games.
Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie also set the standard for a fighting game movie to feature a shower scene with one of its female leads. In Street Fighter's case, it was Chun-Li, who is seen totally nude at one point during the film. A similar scene was used with Anna in the Tekken animated movie and Mai in the Fatal Fury movie. The inclusion of the shower scene caused issues for the film's release, as there are numerous censored and uncensored versions of the movie. It wasn't until knowledge of the scene became more widespread due to the Internet that a truly uncut version of the film was released in America.
1 The Multiple Endings Of Chun-Li
The story and continuity of the Street Fighter franchise are totally messed up. It's pointless following it, as the numerous new games tend to retcon any established events that had happened. Things like the fate of Charlie and Ryu & Ken's master has been changed on numerous occasions. As Street Fighter is a fighting game series, the story doesn't really matter in the long run. It's fine to just enjoy the games for what they are, rather than focusing on the flimsy framework that brings the same cast of colorful characters back together, in order to fight on the streets.
One aspect of the series that has no canon status is the endings that are seen when you complete the game. Each of these is tailored to fit the notion of that character beating the end boss and winning the tournament. One aspect in which Chun-Li is unique is that she can choose what happens in one of her endings.
In Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Chun-Li defeats M. Bison in her ending. The player then gets to choose whether she returns to a normal life or remains a detective. Regardless of her choice, Chun-Li still remains the strongest woman in the world.