Street Fighter, a series that started as a somewhat obscure and strange title and erupted into a worldwide phenomenon. Featuring memorable characters, stages, music, and art work, the series has had many titles, editions, collections, sequels, and prequels, from arcades to home consoles. It’s no wonder the series has endured and stayed popular all these years.
However, outside the video games, the series hasn’t fared too well when it comes to movies. The most infamous example is the 1994 film, which almost no one sees in a positive light, though there’s also the animated film that came out around the same time, which was received more warmly.
Then there’s Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, starring Kristin Kreuk as the titular character. The film also features Neal McDonough as M. Bison, Chris Klein as Charlie Nash, and Michael Clarke Duncan as Balrog. The film was not a rousing success in anyway, so it’s unlikely many have heard of it, either at the time or since. Even so, there’s quite a bit of info on the film, whether it's on-set injuries, changed relationships between characters, or even information related to the movie’s infamy.
Get yourself ready for the 17 Shocking Things You Never Knew About The Terrible Legend Of Chun-Li.
17 Kristen Kreuk got injured on the set
Working on an action movie can be tough, especially when you have to perform a variety of stunts. Even though most actors use stunt doubles and the like, some still do their own stunts, or at least have scenes that require them to do at least part of the filming.
Kreuk has stated that, during a few sequences in the film, she got a bit beat up. One of the incidents involved inexperienced Thai stuntmen who had trouble pulling off their moves on time. Another involved a stuntman throwing Kreuk into a table, and instead of throwing her forward, he threw her down to the ground.
Kreuk stated that both her own and the Thai stuntmen’s lack of experience contributed to the injuries, but that the more professional stuntmen on set were helpful and flexible to her inexperience.
16 Vega's changed since a Black Eyed Peas member played him
Vega is one of the most popular and well-known Street Fighter characters, and for good reason. Whether it’s for his intense narcissism, claws, or insanely good looks, he remains a favorite. This also means he tends to show up in various series-related media, and the very few live-action SF films that exist are no exception.
In this film Vega is portrayed by Black Eyed Pea’s member Taboo, who is both Mexican and Native American, thus changing the nationality of the character. Funny enough, the 1994 film also had an actor of Native American and Latin descent play Vega. In both films (as well as games), Vega is often seen wearing, or just carrying, a white mask. In the games, it’s to protect his gorgeous face, while in Legend of Chun-Li, it’s to hide his identity.
15 Kreuk's make-up artist tried to make her look "more Asian"
Making people of one race look more like another is pretty damning, and Hollywood has been accused of doing this for quite a while. They’ve lain off it in recent years, but it can still pop up, and when it does, it can cause an uproar. So what happens when features of an actor are enhanced to make them look more like a certain race, but not change their race entirely?
Kreuk is actually mixed race, with her father being of Dutch decent and her mother being Indonesian-born Chinese. According to her, during the making of The Legend of Chun-Li, the makeup artist did some work on her looks to bring out her Asian features, mentioning the removal of shadows beneath her eyes, “Probably that was it.”
14 Deleted scenes explain Chun-Li and Nash's alliance
In the best of movies, character motivations and relationships are established, showcased, and fully explained. This is important in a story, since when two characters who have never before interacted start interacting like they’re best friends, it will be confusing to the audience.
In The Legend of Chun-Li, Chun-Li and Charlie Nash form an alliance of sorts late in the film to take down M. Bison (after Nash stops working with Maya). Narratively, this sort of partnerships just happens, so it comes off as a bit odd in execution.
Turns out the DVD contains deleted scenes that go into detail on how these two come together to take down the film’s antagonist. One can only guess as to why they didn’t include these scenes in the final cut.
13 6% on Rotten Tomatoes
Not every movie gets to be in the pantheon of “Best” or even “Worst” movies. Most films come and go, with no one to remember them except for maybe a small but dedicated fan base. Truly special films do get to earn some amount of legacy, good or bad.
The Legend of Chun-Li has the “benefit” and/or “misfortune” of being 44th in Rotten Tomatoes’s “100 Worst Reviewed Films of the 2000s,” a list which includes such classics as Epic Movie, Alone in the Dark (another video game adaption), One Missed Call, and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. In general, it should be no surprise that the film was a critical disaster with only 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it also wasn’t a financial success, which no doubt contributes to the film’s poor reputation.
12 Kreuk was signed for a sequel
Apparently the studio had high expectations for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li because Kristen Kreuk has said that she was contracted for a follow-up film.
The film’s lack of success and the producers' contradictory descriptions of what that sequel would be about might make you wonder whether Kreuk really was signed for a sequel, but it’s just as likely plans were canceled after the film’s financial failure.
In any case, Kreuk mentioned the sequel could have been anything, considering the huge roster of characters the series has, so it may have not been a direct sequel following Chun-Li's story. She also stated that she’d love to participate in whatever sequel was planned, implying she’d be able to enjoy the Thailand filming locations better the second time around.
11 It replaced Street Fighter II
Before The Legend of Chun-Li materialized, a certain famous actor wanted to reprise his role from a related project. That actor was Jean-Claude Van Damme, who quite famously starred as Guile in the 1994 “classic” Street Fighter. Also starring the late great Raul Julia as M. Bison, the film wasn’t exactly a critical favorite, but was popular enough and still has fans here and there to this day.
It was in the early 2000s that Van Damme was working on a sequel to the film, aptly titled Street Fighter II. It would have included Dolph Lundgren, Holly Valance as Cammy, with Damian Chapa reprising his role as Ken. However, this film never came to be, and instead we got The Legend of Chun-Li.
10 It's the first Street Fighter movie without Ryu or Ken
If you’ve ever played Street Fighter, or been near an arcade cabinet for one of the games, you probably know who Ryu and Ken are. Ryu is essentially the series' poster child, with Ken being his foil: one calm and humble, the other brash and energetic.
However, Ryu and Ken don’t at all appear in The Legend of Chun-Li. While Ryu is mentioned at the very end, neither he nor Ken ever show up. This is the first time in any Street Fighter film (live-action or animated) that Ryu or Ken were not in the cast. When asked why they weren’t included in the film, producer Patrick Aiello stated it was to not make the film too cluttered, especially since the film focused on Chun-Li and her narrative.
9 But they would have been canceled sequel
Usually when something fans want isn’t in the first installment, producers, directors, writers, and actors like to say the line “it’ll be in the sequel!” However, sequels are never guaranteed, and usually the most a fan can do in those circumstances is hope for the best.
Apparently, this is what would have been the case for Ryu and Ken. As previously mentioned, neither character is in The Legend of Chun-Li, but had there been a sequel, they would have been included. However, a few years later would see the creation and release of Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, a British web-series, then TV series, turned movie, starring Akira Koieyama and Christian Howards as Ryu and Ken, respectively. Unlike the feature films that came before it, this live-action adaption received very positive reviews.
8 Rick Yune was originally cast as Gen but replaced
Film fans are likely to be familiar with actor/model Rick Yune, as one of his most high-profile roles was Johnny Tran from the first The Fast and the Furious film. He also played the main villain Zao in the James Bond film Die Another Day, along with appearing in other many other films and shows in the years following.
Yune was originally cast to play Gen, who is the martial arts master who taught Chun-Li in the art of Tai Chi. He debuted in the very first Street Fighter and later showed up in the Alpha series, as well as Street Fighter IV. As for Yune, he was later replaced by one Robin Shou, himself a martial artist as well as actor, and probably best known for being in the film adaption of Mortal Kombat.
7 Gen was also Liu Ken in Mortal Kombat
As the previous entry states, actor Robin Shou played the role of Gen in The Legend of Chun-Li. Being from Hong Kong and a martial artist, it’s easy to see why Shou was chosen to play the master who taught Chun-Li what she knows.
One of the interesting pieces of trivia about Shou is that he is the only actor in the film who has previously been in other video game based films. These include the well-known and liked Mortal Kombat (1995) and its infamous sequel (1997), as well as having a cameo in the live action DOA: Dead or Alive (2006). Shou hasn’t done much since, but he did voice major character Conroy Wu in the 2012 video game Sleeping Dogs, as well as be in the Death Race remake and its two sequels.
6 The character Maya is based on C.Viper from SF IV...
As this film features M. Bison as main antagonist but lacks a tournament, the narrative involves various characters wanting to bring him down. One of those characters is a detective by the name Maya Sunee, who teams up with Charlie Nash early in the film.
Interestingly, Maya is based on a very recent Street Fighter character: Crimson Viper. Also known as C. Viper, this character debuted the year previous in Street Fighter IV, working as an agent for the CIA while posing as a worker for S.I.N. She’s very much a spy, which makes her loosely-based appearance in The Legend of Chun-Li very strange. It’s likely she was added simply to be a detective character, especially since, in the actual video games, Chun-Li herself is a detective.
5 The movie features just six characters from Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV was released in 2008, while The Legend of Chun-Li came out the year later. While you might expect the year’s previous game to be a boost to the film, it doesn’t seem that was the case, or at least not too explicitly.
Even so, the aforementioned Maya comes from IV, and the film features a few others from the title. There’s Chun-Li (of course), but there’s also Gen, Rose, Charlie Nash, M. Bison, Vega, and Balrog, with some of the relationships in the movie differing from the games.
Amusingly, even though IV has many, many more characters than Street Fighter II, pretty much every character in the Street Fighter film was an existing game chracters, unlike Legend of Chun-Li.
4 M. Bison's daughter is based on Rose from the Alpha series
Speaking of changed relationships: Rose is M. Bison’s daughter in The Legend of Chun-Li. For background: Rose first appeared in the Alpha series and has also been in IV. She’s a fortune teller with a unique power which she wants to use to rid M. Bison from the world.
In the film, Chun-Li comes across a girl who speaks Russian and is asking for her father. Naturally, Chun-Li isn’t familiar with this girl, but she's later revealed to be M. Bison’s daughter; they later escape from Chun-Li & Co. via helicopter.
Unlike the movie, in the games Rose is Italian, not Russian, and is most definitely not M. Bison’s daughter. However, in both the games and film, he seems to pass his consciousness to Rose, albeit at different points and for different reasons.
3 The movie is based mostly on the Alpha series and events prior to the series "World Warrior" tournament
By the time Legend of Chun-Li came out (2009), Street Fighter had come a long way since the days of The World Warrior from the early 1990s. This means the filmmakers had much to pick from in terms of characters, events, and locations. For this film, they decided to borrow mostly from the Alpha series, which took place before the events of Street Fighter II.
The film’s plot focuses on Chun-Li and her vengeance towards M. Bison; the reason she entered the tournament in the video games. This is also why she meets Charlie Nash in the film before Guile; Guile’s involvement in the World Warrior tournament involves investigating Charlie’s murder. Additionally, as this film is an origin tale for the character, Chun-Li isn’t fighting in a tournament, which limits the amount of game characters you’d otherwise have in the film.
2 The film's director is a veteran action-film cinematographer
When it comes to making a bad film, no one is immune. No matter how much experience you may have, there’s no telling how good or bad the final product might be until it’s complete.
The Legend of Chun-Li was directed Andrzej Bartkowiak, a name that is sure to raise nearly no eyebrows. However, he’s actually a veteran action-film cinematographer, having worked on films as diverse as Terms of Endearment to Lethal Weapon 4.
His first film as director was the successful Romeo Must Die; he then directed Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 the Grave, and most infamously, Doom (another video game adaption). Judging by his filmography, handing him the reigns for a movie about a martial artist based on a video game does make some sense, though it was ultimately for naught.
1 The film was not screened theatrically in Australia
The term “straight to video” doesn’t really have the most positive reputation. It usually implies that the movie in question is of lower quality and won’t really be seen by anyone, unless it’s randomly at the video store or playing on some streaming website.
While The Legend of Chun-Li almost seems like the kind of movie that would get a straight-to-video release everywhere, it was actually theatrically released in early 2009, bringing home almost $13 million from an $18 million budget. However, almost as a form of lowering exposure to something clearly embarrassing, the film was not theatrically released in Australia. No, there it exists as a straight-to-video film, releasing there almost a whole year after the film’s domestic cinema release. At least it managed to make some money back on home video.
Do you have any secrets about Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li? Let us know in the comments!
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