Good Games, Bad Movies: Fight Night

Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter

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Movies based on video games are notoriously bad.

So bad that everyone can remember a video game movie that has just turned them off of the entire series for them – and sadly I can remember too many. I decided to go into the deep depths of the film vault to bring back a couple of forgotten movies that left a bad taste in every gamer’s mouth, and then pit them against each other. With so many horrible ones out there it was tough to pick the first two, but after some work I think I’ve done it.

This week it’s a fighting game bonanza: Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter. 

Will Mortal Kombat get a Flawless Victory, or will Street Fighter take the cake with a Critical Art?

Mortal Kombat (1995)

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A lot of people call this movie “the mother of all video game adaptations”, because it took such a well known fighting series at the time, Mortal Kombat, and put it on the big screen. It might be favourite for some, but that’s probably heavily based on nostalgia, it was a really bad movie. From the bootleg special effects to the non-sensical plot, this thing was just a train wreck. Throughout the whole movie I found myself stifling laughter because Raiden – a character who is supposed to be highly revered and respect in the series – sounded like a talking frog. He was having serious conversations with Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya and it just felt like a joke.

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The only good part about the movie is Goro’s character design – I mean you can’t really go wrong creating a four-armed guy, but they did a good job. For some reason hollywood’s Johnny Cage was the main protagonist of the movie and decided to challenge Goro to a battle which produced what might be the most cheesy fight I’ve ever seen. Goro was being portrayed as the strongest character in the tournament – he has four arms! – but for some reason he was handily served up by some movie star. The fight was weirdly quick too. Goro crushed Johnny Cage’s classic Black Shades™, then Cage somehow teleported behind him and kicked him off of a never-ending cliff while saying “Those were $500 sunglasses asshole”.

Also this one is small, but after every fight Shang Tsung would say “Flawless Victory” even though he got beat up pretty badly. That’s not flawless my dude, you were slacking.

Street Fighter (1994)

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Street Fighter is just as wack as Mortal Kombat, but in a different way. It’s self aware and actually kind of funny. Where Mortal Kombat tries to be serious (and failed miserably), this movie laughs at itself, and it works.

The two series have been rivals for a while, but I think this movie settles their score. There’s a surreal vibe to the whole thing; it takes suspension of belief to the maximum, and you sort of have to play along if you want to have a good time. So many aspects of it don’t make sense in a canonical, chronological, or even continuity wise. Like when Bison is broadcasting his big bad evil plan across the world Guile just starts talking back to him through the television, and nobody questions it. It’s just real in that world.

The movie is bogus, but that’s what it’s trying to be. E. Honda’s weird affinity to getting slapped, M. Bison and his pure evil mantra, and Zangief’s short but memorable one-liners all combine to make a goofy, fun time. The one downside to the movie is the odd lack of actual fighting that goes on. There were about 3 fights the entire film, and the rest was all conversations that built up to fights that weren’t all too interesting. I guess they did the most they could do with the technology at the time, but that’s one of the struggles you’re going to deal with when you make a movie based on a bizarre, supernatural street fighting game.

At the end of it all, Street Fighter‘s movie still holds up to this day and I didn’t cringe the whole time I was watching it, so that’s a good sign. And to top it off, the movie ends with a classic freeze frame™ to sum up all of its cheesiness in one shot.

The winner is: Street Fighter (1994)

Author: Funké

Hey, I'm Funké Joseph. I'm always writing about video games and pop-culture.