Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Unlicenced Lawyer : Van Damme's Guile

There once was a time, then a Street Fighter movie did not exist. Not a single one. There were not enough cartoons and animes and comics about Street Fighter to fill a Wikia. There was no Alpha, no Ex, no "Assassin's Fist" and certainly no "VS Tekken". There was only "2", 12 characters whose lives as far as we knew revolved solely around hurting each other in.
Ok, there might have been some.

In that world, full of optimism and potential, the announcement of a Street Fighter movie did exist. Back then, we weren't "tired" of remakes and adaptations(I guess with the record breaking millions these adaptations are making now, you could argue our tiredness can only carry us so far.) A Street Fighter movie was not a horrible suggestion: it was the alternative to no Street Fighter movie.

So the movie was made in 1994. They made some...choices with it. Some of those choices do not sit well with the most hardcore fans, who's clinging to a "sola interactiva" philosophy is as commendable as it is ill advised.
"They ruined T. Hawk!" yelled no one.

There's plenty of deviations that I would not have done, should this have been MY Street Fighter movie. As many, the 20 years since have mellowed my views on it, perhaps nostalgia catching hold, but that doesn't mean we can't have a better version. However, I am here to speak on behalf of one of the movies most fought about elements, it's lead character  Guile, played by Jean Claude Van Damme.

It's easy to see why they would be angry. Of all the National charicatures in Street FIghter, Guile is easilly the harder to screw up: A big, American military man. Why they went with a guy with a heavy Brussels accent, we might never know. We do suspect it having to do with getting a big name in there. Yeah, they where obviously only thinking about only the almighty dollar. But what do we know about Guile? Well, he looks like this.

Wait a minute: American military, huge muscles...early 90s... things that were popular... people with jowls and pronounced chins...

If you think about it, it makes sense to think that, when trying to represent an "American" martial arts/stock character, Capcom's designers would look at what was popular in American Cinema, and nothing was more popular than Arnold at the time. You can accuse Capcom of being ripoff artists, and you'd be right about that. But not only where they not the only ones, but they where pretty good at it, too. They put John Matrix in the hair of some nazi guy from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and then boom! New character.

In this sense, Jean Claude Van Damme is the perfect choice for Guile:  a thickly accented action movie star. There's no way they would have gotten Arnold at the height of his career to play a big, cartoony setting like this, at a time where he was selling movies for himself. And besides, as far as having someone  doing stuff like this:

It makes sense to bring in a guy who can do stuff like this:

I say we have all been a bit unfair to Street Fighter: The Movie in this sense. Now, was giving Van Damme a moving speech a bad idea? Maybe. Was making his pants blue instead of Green a betrayal of SF cannon? Perhaps. Should The Boxer have been working for Bison and the Russian Guy have not been? Definitively.  Is the movie perfect? No. Is Van Damme the Worst Possible Guile? Not on your life, bud.

Now, who wants to hear about how I think Charlie should be played by Tom Cruise?
You know I'm right!


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