For most people, 1994’s Street Fighter is best forgotten – a poorly made big screen video game adaptation that does a major disservice to the celebrated franchise that inspired it. I’m not one of those people, though, and hardly a week goes by that I don’t find myself referencing this so-bad-it’s-good action flick when joking around with friends.
This riffing is fun but hasn’t ever amounted to more than a flurry of typo-riddled DMs… until now. The list you’re about to read is the result of an offhand joke snowballing into a full-blown article designed to answer one ridiculous question: what kind of books would Street Fighter’s roster of World Warriors have penned following the events of the movie?
9. The Sharks of Shadaloo (Ken and Ryu)
Like many of the characters in the Street Fighter movie, Ken (Damian Chapa) and Ryu (Byron Mann) are dramatically different to their pixelised counterparts. Whereas these butt-kicking best buddies are good guys in the games, here they’re portrayed as slick con artists who regularly do business with underworld figures like Sagat (Wes Studi).
Sure, Ken and Ryu eventually see the error of their ways and go undercover on behalf of UN stand-in the Allied Nations. Yet this also means that they avoid any serious repercussions for their years spent swindling people – admittedly, not always very nice people – out of their hard-earned cash.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the basic throughline of financial scammer Jordan Belfort’s 2007 memoir Wolf of Wall Street – so that’s exactly the kind of trashy page-turner Ken and Ryu would’ve released. Titled The Sharks of Shadaloo, this book would recount antics outrageous enough to make even Belfort blush, including selling off-brand Nerf guns to arms dealers, staging prison breakouts, and going to work for a would-be world conqueror.
8. Out of the Ring and Into the Light (Balrog and E. Honda)
Unlike Ken and Ryu, Balrog (Grand L. Bush) and E. Honda (Balrog) made it to the screen with their basic backstories intact… sort of. The former is still a disgraced boxer, the latter a Yokozuna sumo, however, that’s where the similarities end. The Street Fighter movie also messes with the canon so that both men were banned from their respective sports through the machinations of Sagat’s criminal empire and now serve as the camera crew for TV news reporter Chun-Li (Ming-Na Wen). Oh, and Balrog is no longer M. Bison’s (Raul Julia) lackey like he was in Street Fighter II, either.
Of course, the odds of two former elite athletes suffering the same setback and then reskilling to work in the same industry only to be hired by the same employer are almost too astronomical to consider. But if that did happen, it’s exactly the kind of thing that sports-oriented publishers would lap up – especially after this pair of pugilists aided the AN mission responsible for toppling a notorious South-East Asian warlord. A ghost-written tome, Out of the Ring and Into the Light would probably be optioned for an ESPN 30 for 30 style documentary or prestige TV series before it even hit shelves.
7. Flowers for Carlos (Blanka and Dhalsim)
The Street Fighter movie combines two separate characters from the franchise, Blanka and Charlie, into Carlos “Charlie” Blanka (Robert Mammone), a close friend of Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme). As a result, poor Charlie quickly finds himself transformed into a green-skinned, orange-haired monster person matching Blanka’s appearance in the games. He’s also teamed with a radically reimagined version of arm-stretching, fire-breathing yogi Dhalsim (Roshan Seth), now a conservatively dressed scientist who lacks his video game counterpart’s mystical powers.
As the person responsible for Blanka’s metamorphosis (albeit unwillingly), Dhalsim ultimately decides to remain by his creation’s side when M. Bison’s lair is blown sky-high. That would seem to curtail the possibility of either party writing a book, however, we never actually see their dead bodies – so for all we know, they both made it out alive. And if they did, you better believe that Dhalsim wrote Flowers for Carlos, a memoir about his ultimately unsuccessful efforts to reverse Charlie’s unfortunate condition.
6. Postcards from Shadaloo (Chun-Li)
An Interpol agent in the Street Fighter games, Chun-Li is (as mentioned above) a news reporter in the movie. She covers the civil war in Shadaloo from the front lines while secretly plotting to take down Bison to avenge the death of her father. That alone would likely be enough to nab her a book deal, however, the unique selling point of sadly never-released memoir Postcards from Shadaloo is that Chun-Li actually did go toe-to-toe with the very dictator she was reporting on. This wouldn’t be an easy read – especially the chapter covering Bison’s not-so-smooth attempt to seduce her while she recalls the day he killed her dad – but it would also be impossible to put down.
5. Not Going Home (Guile)
Let’s face it: Guile was dishonourably discharged from the AN’s armed forces as soon as the credits rolled on the Street Fighter movie. This American career soldier led an unsanctioned military operation against a mentally unstable warlord holding multiple hostages, all while personally piloting a multi-million-dollar stealth boat he later scuttled. There’s simply no way he was ever keeping his job.
At the same time, Guile is also the guy who defeated Bison, both in hand-to-hand combat and as the overall mission leader. Because of this, there are probably plenty of people (especially in the US) who still back him – and it’s this audience that Not Going Home would target. Taking its name from Guile’s fiery speech to the AN troops before launching the offensive on Bison’s base, Not Going Home is as unapologetic about Guile’s decision to go rogue as it is about his inexplicably Belgian accent.
4. Pax Bisonica (M. Bison)
If there’s one thing dictators love, it’s manifestos. Hitler had Mein Kampf, Mussolini had The Doctrine of Fascism, and M. Bison (probably) had Pax Bisonica. Published posthumously – or maybe not, depending on how you feel about Street Fighter’s post-credits scene – this overlong, under-edited doorstop would make the case for why former drug kingpin Bison’s proposed new world order is humanity’s best way forward.
Released as three 12-chapter volumes, Pax Bisonica would present Bison’s insane ramblings on issues as diverse as currency (remember: one Bison dollar is equivalent to five British pounds) and food court management. That said, it would also touch on the Bison regime’s handful of undeniable accomplishments, including impressive advances in DNA mutagen research and novel applications of electromagnetism.
3. The Wrestler Who Came in From the Cold (Zangief)
The Street Fighter movie recasts Russian wrestler Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski) as M. Bison’s formidable yet dim-witted chief henchman. He’s so dim-witted, in fact, that he truly believes that Bison’s forces are the good guys – although he renounces his old boss and teams up with Guile and the gang once he learns the truth. Zangief’s philosophical about-face is a compelling story (in theory, if not in practice), and in the rush to capitalise on the post-civil war hubbub, it could’ve easily served as the basis for a biography like The Wrestler Who Came in From the Cold.
2. Iron Fist, Iron Heart (Sagat)
With all the other key players from the Street Fighter movie cutting book deals, it’d only be a matter of time before a shrewd operator like Sagat found a way to get in on the action. And why not? True crime is a huge market, and Sagat’s status as a champion cage fighter turned black market arms dealer with first-hand experience of Bison’s final days is exactly the kind of juicy set-up readers want.
Iron Fist, Iron Heart would have it all: a compelling “rags to riches” origin story as Sagat fights his way to the top, salacious accounts of his criminal dealings with the likes of Ken and Ryu, and darkly funny anecdotes from inside the Bison camp (such as getting paid in a non-existent currency). By the end of this book, you still wouldn’t approve of Sagat – but you’d probably hate him a whole lot less, too.
1. Clawback: The Vega Diaries (Vega)
Vega (Jay Tavare) starts the Street Fighter movie as the reigning Iron Fist cage fighting champion and ends it a convicted felon about to face a raft of additional charges for aiding Bison’s brutal regime. That’s a spectacular fall from grace, and when Vega finally gets out of jail, he’s facing an uphill battle to rebuild both his fighting career and his public reputation.
This underdog story is what Clawback: The Vega Diaries would cover. Boasting a direct, epistolary style, the book would chart the highs and lows of the aging Vega’s comeback tilt. Along the way, Clawback would also document several shock developments, such as the cage fighter’s eventual defection to the then-emerging MMA circuit, sacrificing his signature weapon for the promise of more chain-link fences and even more prize money.