Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Tragic Story Behind This Video Game Movie Appearance

The "Street Fighter" movie is known as just one example of why adapting video games into films has generally been considered a bad idea. However, the end result wasn't the only train wreck when it came to "Street Fighter." Filming the movie proved to be incredibly difficult, with tons of issues stemming from a low budget, some difficult stars, and one actor suffering from an illness without telling anyone. The end result of all of these issues resulted in a critically panned film that earned a cult following due to its lacking quality. The film did manage to turn a profit, though, hitting almost $100 million internationally on a $35 million budget.


As reported by The Guardian and Polygon, the process of making "Street Fighter" was a constant uphill battle. One of the biggest issues was Raul Julia, who played Bison in the film. The star was expected to be a commanding presence on screen, using his size and acting skills to bring some legitimacy to the movie, however the reality of the situation was much more unfortunate.

Raul Julia was dealing with stomach cancer while filming Street Fighter

Julia had recently undergone surgery for stomach cancer when he arrived on set to film "Street Fighter." The massive star had cost the filmmakers a hefty chunk of change. Between Julia and Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven E. de Souza spent so much of his budget, he wasn't able to even train the no-name actors in the other roles prior to filming. Julia had said he only took the role because his children were fans of the "Street Fighter" game.


Julia arrived to shoot some of his scenes and the costume consultants called de Souza, telling him the actor looked small and ghastly. None of the production crew was aware of his illness at this time, so they pushed his scenes until the end of filming in order to give him time to put some weight on, which resulted in some of the other actors' scenes being moved up, giving them even less martial arts training time. Ultimately, Julia gave a strong performance as Bison towards the end of filming and was remembered as one of the better parts of the film. He passed away shortly after filming concluded.

Raul Julia's performance was critically acclaimed, even if the movie wasn't

There is no argument that "Street Fighter" was well-received by critics, in any real way. It sits at a 34 on Metacritic and has a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the audience score only bumping it to a 20%. But, even with all that, some critics can't help praise the way Raul Julia goes all in as the maniacal Bison. Polygon praised Julia's ridiculous Bison costume and his full commitment to all of his lines, even ones that have become memes, like "to me, it was Tuesday."


Birth Movies Death praised "Street Fighter" as a love letter to Julia, who likely made it as his final film as an act of affection to his children. They praised Julia for chewing scenery as a self-aware villain, making his every moment on screen a delight. "He gave the role of Bison his all, even when his body was giving out, out of love for his children and what made them happy. That love shines through all of the film's flaws, and there are many," Meagan Navarro wrote.

Difficulties filming Street Fighter

As detailed by The Guardian and Polygon, the production of "Street Fighter" was difficult, even outside of Raul Julia's illness. It was de Souza's first time directing a film, having previously only worked as a screenwriter on movies like "Die Hard" and "48 Hours." Capcom also proved difficult to work with, making changes and demands throughout the process. For example, after de Souza used a sizable chunk of the budget on Van Damme and Julia, he had five more fighters to cast for the movie. While struggling to secure more actors at a reasonable price, Capcom demanded two more fighters be added to the movie, further straining the budget.


One of the other massive issues involved the stunt coordinator Charlie Picerni, who had told de Souza he would need tons of prep time to properly rehearse the action scenes. Performing the moves from the game would require wirework, which could be dangerous without practice. However, Picerni ultimately met many of the actors when filming started and due to Julia's illness, some of the action scenes were moved up. While video game adaptations being bad is nothing new, "Street Fighter" faced particularly adverse conditions.