Street Fighter II: The Movie Uncut -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: D
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 99/101
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Street Fighter (All Variations)

Street Fighter II: The Movie Uncut

By Chris Beveridge     July 26, 2006
Release Date: July 18, 2006

Street Fighter II: The Movie Uncut
© Manga Entertainment

What They Say
Evil mastermind Bison is determined to attack civilization and conquer the world. Can legendary warriors Ken and Ryu thwart his manic plans? The ultimate battle between good and evil is about to begin!

The Review!
After a lengthy and varied series of releases around the world on multiple formats, this release is as close to "as good as it gets" to date.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese and in the new 5.1 mix. Having seen this previously in the English form only, it was something of a treat at long last to get to hear the original cast and score. The original mix is pretty much a product of its time from the mid 90's but it sounds good and is pretty clean and clear throughout. The 5.1 mix does a decent job of cleaning it up a bit more and making the sounds a bit more distinct as well as throwing a few things to the rear channels. We did flip the disc to listen to the English track and in its stereo form it comes across much as I remember the old VHS, LD and DVD releases I have being. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.

Originally released back in 1994, the transfer for this movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. To date, there are no releases with an anamorphic master to them so it's not surprising that we got what we got here. What is unfortunate is that it looks like for the most part it's basically the same masters as the last release which I believe was the component based master for the Japanese laserdisc, which the Japanese DVD was also based off of. The result is that this 1994 film is really looking pretty bad in a lot of places but it will definitely be hardware dependent. For our rating, looking at it on our 50" set upconverted to 1080i, there are plenty of noticeable problems with grain throughout as well as cross coloration. You know you're in for a problem when the white on black Japanese credits at the start are filled with rainbows. It only got worse as it went on and things like the backgrounds of the Shadowloo mountain base simply seem alive with how it moves. The cross coloration is seemingly in everything and at different levels. The films also has a fair amount of nicks and scratches and dirt throughout it which in addition to the grain gives it a very old feel. The black levels look decent for the most part but there doesn't seem to be a lot of detail to it.

I also gave the disc a spin on our 23" Dell HDTV via component and it looked even worse on that. There is a ton of jagged edges to it throughout, from the backgrounds again to the character designs. When we first get introduced to Guile, the nose of the planes on the airstrip have nothing smooth about them, it's all steps in jagged form. The cross coloration isn't as visible as actual colors but it keeps much of the animation moving when it shouldn't be. Our Zenith DVB-314 couldn't handle smoothing out the problems as good as the Samsung BD-P1000 did when it upconverted it.

For this release, Manga went an extra mile to create a shiny bright red slipcover for it that has a fist bursting out of it with the raised cardboard. It's a fairly straightforward piece underneath with a black and red image of some of the leads while the full-color fist pushes through. It's definitely a slipcover that will stand out on the shelves and attract eyes. The back of the slipcover is the same as the DVD cover which has a fair amount of text talking about the film and listing its features alongside some character artwork. The discs features and technical information are fairly clear and I was really glad to see not only a combined runtime but individual runtimes for each side. The actual DVD cover is akin to their previous Street Fighter releases with a decent shot of most of the characters from this particular film standing together in a pyramid that look good both in color and detail. It does seem to show its age somewhat though as it's hard to imagine this franchise "new" even with new OVA material released recently. The insert replicates the front of the slipcover while the reverse side has the chapter stops. A mini comic from Udon is also included for those that will want to explore the franchise further.

The menu layout is essentially the same on both sides of the disc as there's a fast moving globe graphic in the background to highlight the numerous places the cast comes from and on top of that it brings in a series of clips from the film as well as swapping out character artwork based on the "character select" animation that's there as well. All of this is st to a bit of music and there's other effects going on as well so it's a very busy and active menu. Due to the way the languages are setup, player presets are a non-issue. The layout and design of the menus overall is pretty good though and it definitely captures the feel of the game while looking good.

On the Japanese side, there's a player cards section that basically shows you the character and clips from their time in the show. The English side fairs worse though as it basically has just trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My love for the Street Fighter II franchise knows no bounds. In fact, when I bought my first DVD player back in 1997, the early DVD release was one of the first ones I picked up. Of course, it may be telling that I never actually reviewed it before because in reality I really have a hard time taking this series. While there are parts to it that I enjoy, so much of it just feels completely uninteresting. Subsequent releases of OVAs and TV episodes haven't helped to change that either.

One of the biggest problems any fighting series like this has in the transition to anime form is that by and large you're bound to alienate some segment of the fans. Not everyone is a Ryu or Chun-li fan and they may hate to see that their favorite is not only relegated to a minor role but beaten up so easily in the larger scheme of things. Or that the voices may not match their perceptions of what it should be nor are their moves replicated right. So much can go wrong just in adapting the basics before you even get near a script. And calling what this movie has a script is being generous.

The general plot once again follows Ryu as he's something of a wandering warrior who travels around the world looking for those with the skills and abilities to give him the challenge he needs. He's earned a reputation over the years since he took down Sagat in a brutal fight but he's mostly gone to ground since and is rarely seen. Ryu's an obvious choice for the lead for a number of reasons and they do a nice job of pairing him up with Ken for a past where the two trained together but have followed different lives since they parted. While Ryu looks for a challenge wherever he can, Ken has taken to the professional route and no longer street fights, instead preferring to keep to the clean and legitimate fight world where there is a fair bit less risk.

While all of this simple living is going on, there are big evil things afoot with an organization called Shadowlaw. In the Japanese version, it's subtitled as Shadowloo (at the same moment when it's shown on paper on the screen as Shadowlaw) but apparently it's also officially spelled as Shadowloo, Shadaloo, Shadowlaw and Shadowland as well. I can't help but think that Shadowloo just sounds bad, looks bad and is plain silly, but hey, that's when you get with Engrish. Shadowlaw is intent on taking over the world of course and they need to be able to build up their ranks with some powerful fighters in order to do that. They've moved beyond their old methods of finding fighters but now sending out very advanced robots that can communicate instantly about what they see and rank power levels. The leader of the group, Vega, has been intent on finding Ryu for some time because his power level is beyond words and he'd be a key member of his crew.

This search and fight kind of mentality makes up much of the film while a parallel storyline about Chun-li of Interpol hooking up with Guile of the US Air Force to find out more about Shadowlaw balances it out. This allows for a number of "good guys" to run about fending off the bad guys while trying to understand what's going on. Ken gets dragged into it when he's defeated and mentally subjugated by Vega so that he's working on the side of Shadowlaw which adds some nice if obvious angst for Ryu. For a movie being based off of a fighting video game, the storyline does keep to its roots fairly well and does a decent job of expanding on some of the characters. One of the draws to the franchise that's revisited fairly regularly is the time Ryu and Ken spend together training when they were younger. It gets some good time in this piece as well and works well to solidify their bond, something most of the others don't really have. Unless you consider all the guys ogling Chun-li's crotch to be a bond.

For its time, the animation for this movie wasn't bad and there were certainly a number of good fluid fight sequences and some neat moves. It's also towards the end of the time when male fighting characters would have time in the spotlight while still being something of a stocky or bulky build. The few women in it look good, though it's amusing to look at the infamous Chun-li shower scene now twelve years gone by and realize just how innocent it really was and how, well, average Chun-li really is in the movie. Since that was one of the subjects of the cut in the English editions, it's good to see it back.

The release is done in an interesting way in that it's a DVD-10 flipper. Side A is the English language side while side B is the Japanese language side. They list different runtimes for it but the differences appear to be mostly in the credits as one runs longer than the other. Of course, the English language track utilizes a different score as the now very old and mostly unknown bands make up the action scenes. I hated these groups back when I was in my early twenties and like them even less now so the English language version manages to still have very little appeal. The Japanese track was something that I was glad to finally be able to check out but the performances there really don't make you jump up and down either. It's just unfortunate that you can't flip languages on the fly to see differences and compare easily how the music changes the intensity of the various fights.

In Summary:
For fans of the franchise, this is probably the best the release has been done in terms of providing an uncut and bilingual version of the film, albeit as separate sides of the same disc. For those that are fans and want a quality presentation, well, hopefully Sony will go back to the masters someday and create a new high definition print to draw from with the next generation of hardware because the presentation here is pretty awful in general. There are always allowances to make for older shows in some ways but what we get here is just unappealing to look at as it's very distracting with all the rainbows and shimmering. If that doesn't bother you and you're a fan, you're going to love having this movie uncut at long last. Most everyone else will find something to gripe about and wait for the next release that's surely to come to fix the problems from this release.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Cards

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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