15 Facts About Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox / 20th Century Fox

No matter how many times you’ve defeated M. Bison with a devastating spinning bird kick, you can always learn something new about Street Fighter.

1. Producer Ashok Amritraj had never heard of Street Fighter—his kids introduced him to the property and told him it might make a good movie. Amritraj disregarded the original 1994 film adaptation and envisioned The Legend of Chun-Li as a prequel to the Street Fighter II video game.

2. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak, on the other hand, cut his teeth on video game adaptations. Before The Legend of Chun-Li, he directed the 2005 big-screen version of the popular video game series Doom.

3. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, who starred in the 1994 Street Fighter adaptation, received an offer to headline the sequel alongside his Universal Soldier co-star Dolph Lundgren. Van Damme turned down the offer because he thought his performance as Guile in the original was too embarrassing to repeat.

4. Robin Shou, who plays Gen in The Legend of Chun-Li, is no stranger to video game film adaptations. He appeared as Liu Kang in both Mortal Kombat movies and also played a character called “Pirate Leader” in the lesser-known video game movie DOA: Dead or Alive. The character he plays in The Legend of Chun-Li first appeared in the original Street Fighter game as a non-selectable character.

5. The original Street Fighter arcade game was released in 1987. But Chun-Li wasn’t introduced until 1991’s Street Fighter II.

6. Chun-Li’s name means “spring beauty” in Mandarin.

7. Street Fighter II also marked the first appearance of the villainous M. Bison; he was an unplayable boss character

8. Actor Neil McDonough based M. Bison’s mannerisms on mogul Richard Branson.

9. Vega is played by Taboo from the hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas. He wasn’t the only member of the group to make the jump to movies in 2009; Will.i.am appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine that same year.

10. The exterior of Chun-Li’s house—which was supposed to be located in Hong Kong—was actually filmed at one of the ancillary houses in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. The production was only given limited access to shoot on the lawn and the porch because of the building’s importance: it holds the ashes of four generations of Thai kings.  

11. The exterior of M. Bison’s Shadaloo headquarters is not a set. The production found the location at a university outside of Bangkok.

12. All of the guns that appear in the movie are real. The Thai government gave the production access to its arsenal.

13. The credits list different U.S. and Japanese names for three characters. In Japan, Vega is Balrog, M. Bison is Vega, and Balrog is M. Bison. The switcheroo stems from a potential personality rights issue from the video game. The original Japanese boxer character named M. Bison meant “Mike Bison,” a play on the name of real-life boxer Mike Tyson. When Street Fighter was released in America, the game’s developer, Capcom, rearranged the names to avoid a potential likeness lawsuit from Tyson.

14. Most of the fight scenes use extensive wirework coordinated by famed fight choreographer Dion Lam, who previously worked on the Matrix trilogy. In the alleyway fight scene, two 11-foot cranes held actress Kristen Kreuk, who plays Chun-Li, in place. Kreuk says her experience as a gymnast helped her get used to being suspended from the uncomfortable rig for hours at a time during shooting.

15. The filmmakers made sure to insert certain characters’ signature moves from the video games into the movie, including Chun-Li’s “spinning bird kick” in the nightclub fight and M. Bison’s “power punch and kick” during the final battle. Chun-Li’s wardrobe and hairstyle during the nightclub scene were meant as an homage to the look of the video game character as well.