Street Fighter II animated film released on Blu-ray disc

August 14th, 2017

I don’t know how I missed this least year, but I recently learned that the Japanese animated Street Fighter II movie was released on Blu-ray disc in October. This film has a long and complex history of Western releases, varying greatly in content and quality.

Following its 1994 theatrical release in Japan, SMV Enterprises released two versions (As Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie) on videotape in the US in 1995: a PG-13 version, and an urated version. Both versions were English-dubbed, and completely replaced the soundtrack with songs by Western artists like KMFDM and Alice in Chains. The PG-13 version included milder language for some scenes that included harsh dialogue in the unrated version, and it edited out the more graphic violence. But, even aside from the dubbing and soundtrack, neither version was faithful to the Japanese original—even the unrated version trimmed a number of shots, presumably for pacing rather than content in most cases, though the infamous Chun-Li shower scene was also truncated. The unrated version was also released on laserdisc, and eventually on DVD.

Chun Li vs. Vega

In 2006, Street Fighter II was re-released on DVD by Anchor Bay, in an edition that was labeled “Uncut, Uncensored, Unleashed.” This was a double-sided DVD containing the original Japanese version of the film (with optional English subtitles) on one side, and the English-dubbed version on the other. However, while this DVD’s English-dubbed version was not identical to the previously-released unrated version, neither was it completely uncensored. Instead, it was the version of the English dub originally released in the UK, which contained even harsher language than the US unrated version, and left all of the violence intact, but still trimmed incidental scenes for pacing. The shower scene was also more explicit than that of the US unrated version, but still edited compared to the Japanese original.

Then last October, Discotek Media released the film on DVD and Blu-ray, its high-definition debut in the US. Finally, this release consolidates just about every previous release, both English and Japanese, into one comprehensive package. The flim itself is uncensored, including all of the violence, nudity, and incidental shots that were omitted from previous English releases, and it includes no fewer than five different audio tracks:

  • the original Japanese audio
  • the US PG-13 English dub
  • the US unrated English dub
  • the UK unrated English dub
  • the English dub with the Japanese soundtrack

The Blu-ray’s producers went to great lengths to make this release so comprehensive. The three previously-released English dubs were all re-edited and re-synced to match up with the fully uncut version of the film, since all had previously been paired with censored versions. And the English dub with the Japanese soundtrack is a brand-new track, created from scratch especially for this release. Interestingly, this track’s English dialog isn’t a perfect match for any of the three existing English dubs. Instead of, say, using the UK version as the basis for this track just because it’s the most explicit, the producers decided to pick-and-choose the individual takes that were most faithful the original Japanese dialogue.

The Blu-ray's slipcover and case

The disc similarly includes an array of different subtitle tracks. For those watching the English versions, there’s one track that only translates signs and other on-screen text, and another that translates signs and text as well as the Japanese soundtrack’s song lyrics. For viewers of the Japanese version, a brand-new English subtitle translation was commissioned, which is presented here in two versions, reflecting both the Japanese and US versions of character names (the US version of the Street Fighter II video game upon which the film is based confusingly has three characters’ names switched around compared to the Japanese original).

The Blu-ray also includes a number of supplemental features, many of them focused on the film’s myriad versions. There are five trailers, three in Japanese and two in English, both of the latter from the UK. Also included are text-based notes covering the film’s original production and English translation, as well as biographies of the Street Fighter characters. Several production art galleries are also provided, including one especially interesting one dedicated to the film’s depiction of the game’s cartoonish, over-the-top special moves. The opening and closing credits from the original English home video releases are included as well. Since the main feature is sourced from an original Japanese print, these credits present the version English-speaking viewers remember from their old videotape or DVD. There’s also a version of the film’s ending without credits—in the film proper, the end titles play over this bit of animation. The US PG-13 version of the film is also included in its entirety. Unlike the main feature presentation, which includes the PG-13 audio track but pairs it with an uncensored version of the video, this is a faithful reproduction of the edited-down version from the old videotape release. It’s actually been recreated from scratch from the same HD master as the main film, rather than sourced from the old VHS master. So while this is the same version of the film fans will remember from their old videotape, it looks better than ever.

There’s also a collection of cut-scenes from the “Interactive Movie Game,” a Japan-exclusive video game based on the film, which included a lot of animation from the movie, but also had some new and unique scenes that weren’t actually used in the film itself. All that unique footage is compiled here. There’s a compilation of “alternate takes.” While the three different English-language versions of the film use a number of different takes between them for certain scenes, especially those involving profanity, there are just as many alternate takes that went unused. Some of them are interesting, and have nothing to do with profanity, like characters shouting the name of the attack they’re performing in English vs. Japanese. Finally, there’s a featurette titled “The Different Cuts,” which explores the many different releases of the film, particularly the numerous English-language versions, and exlpains how they were leveraged to create the disc’s verious audio tracks.

This release is virtually definitive, with almost nothing additional I can think of that could have been included. It would have been nice to have the original US & UK unrated versions included in their original forms, in addition to the US PG-13 version. But that’s a minor oversight in light of all the other great content on the disc and the lengths to which the producers went to present so many different versions of the English dub with the full-length, uncut version of the film.

I have no illusions about the quality of the film, but Street Fighter II has always been one of my favorite video games, and I was exactly the right age when this movie was originally released, so I have a soft spot for it. I’m ecstatic to finally have a definitive, high-quality version accessible to English-speaking audiences.

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