STARBURST: What led you to create Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist?
Joey Ansah: You could say that it was a mixture of destiny and duty. It came from my dissatisfaction from the previous Street Fighter movies and other video game movies, for that matter. It’s a genre that Hollywood has done poorly. With Zak Snyder and Christopher Nolan, we’ve finally started to see comic book movies done right; in a way that’s both commercially viable and also creatively valid and respectful of the source the material. With these video game movies, especially the action ones, it was obvious that no one was going to do these games any justice.
Did the Bourne Ultimatum open doors for you?
Yes definitely. Everyone who’s seen that film knows that fight scene, and they get a bit excited about it. It opened doors. Street Fighter showcases my understanding of choreography, and more my acting than actual film making skills. I hadn’t directed anything at the time I pitched the movie!
What challenge did you face choreographing the videogame moves into live action?
I think it comes from having a strong knowledge of the game. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Once you know every move and have studied every sprite, and you know the game inside you can begin to choreograph. You can work out the style. If you look at Akuma particularly, you can compare the different games and get a comprehensive feel for how the style evolves. Being a martial artist, you can recognise the kicks and punches; it’s a sort of detective work. Christian Howard, who plays Ken in Assassin's Fist and co-wrote it with me, has a really good eye for detail and you can really see it in his performance. You have to grasp the physicality and that can be a challenge.
How much of the Street Fighter mythology did you have to re-invent?
Part of our unique selling point for the series is that it is one hundred percent faithful. I personally don’t like deviations from the source material where people say, “that won’t work in a live action film; we have to completely change it”. The mythology of Street Fighter is a bit of muddle. We have the game, which is completely canon, so we had to stick to that exactly, but then we’ve got stuff like the anime movies which were licensed by Capcom but aren’t regarded as strict canon. For lack of there being any other storytelling in Street Fighter, a lot of the fans accept what they see in the anime as the way it went. We reference the best elements of the anime and also stuff from the Udon comics to make a sort of definitive back story. We did add characters, like the crazy fisherman and the groundsmen.
Will we see more of Shadaloo in future projects?
Oh yes definitely. Without spoiling too much, pay attention when you’re watching the DVD, and they’ll definitely be more Shadaloo moving forward.
What’s next for the world of live action Street Fighter?
We are working on Street Fighter: World Warrior, and that’s going to capture the Street Fighter Two storyline. The world will open up, with Ryu and Ken in America, taking on personal challenges of combat. We’ll see elements of the first game, with the presence of Sagat and the rise of Shadaloo. Expect Chun Li and all the other characters you know and love.
How will you handle characters like Blanka?
Following on from the tone of Assassins Fist it has to be faithful in appearance but have a scientific tone to it. Rather than just having nice, clean, glowing green skin, it could be that this guy has almost camouflaged himself in greenish clay to give Blanka a more practical, jungle-dwelling theme. I don’t want to give it all away right now. Wait and see.
Ideally the next series would be a TV series. I’d like a longer running time, closer to a commercial hour, giving us the ability to tell a longer story. The YouTube model works in a way to introduce it to the fans, but I want to do it bigger and better.
In commercial terms, can Capcom’s heroes take on those from Marvel and DC?
Money is one thing; Marvel is such a huge machine. In terms of iconic appeal, yeah, it has the potential. Street Fighter is a 27-year-old brand with a following. It wasn’t too long ago that Marvel was facing bankruptcy and fire-selling its IP to the other studios. If The Avengers can rise from the ashes, then there’s no reason why Street Fighter can’t do something similar.
Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist - Live Action is out of Blu-ray and DVD on the October 28th.