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Streetfighter Review

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★★★★

Bearing in mind the commercial disaster that was Super Mario Bros., you might think Hollywood would be wary of dipping its tootsies into the world of computer games once more. Well, think again. In fact, with movie adaptations of both Doom and Mortal Kombat in the pipeline, there seems every prospect of consoles replacing comics as one of the studios' primary sources of material. If the results are anywhere near as bad as Streetfighter, however, then that is a very grim prospect indeed.

Set in the imaginary South-East Asian city of Shadaloo, this stars the late Raul Julia as mad warlord Bison and Van Damme as an Allied Nations commando Colonel Guile.

The "plot" concerns Julia taking hostage 63 relief workers and Van Damme's subsequent attempts to rescue them. The film's real objective, though, is to get the pop-culture teen-friendly cast - including a horribly wooden Kylie Minogue - stripping off and going hammer and tongs at each other with various martial arts-styled hammers and tongs.

Unfortunately, most of the fighting is extraordinarily lame, while director de Souza - who wrote the scripts for Die Hard and 48 Hours - appears to have left his funny hat back at the ranch. The result is a limp farrago, eye-catchingly designed but unlikely to entertain even the most testosterone-charged of teenagers, and too soft to catch the attention of martial arts fans.

You should feel sorry for the memory of Julia - whose swansong this is - but actually it's Van Damme who commands sympathy. Recent movies have found the Muscles From Brussels coming dangerously close to what, in the profession, is referred to as "acting". But this is one monumental step backwards into the one-dimensional realms of his brain-free early efforts Cyborg, Bloodsport and Kickboxer. Only not as fun.

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