After a career full of awards and critical acclaim, actor Raul Julia made the odd decision to play M. Bison in the infamous Street Fighter movie.
After a career full of awards and critical acclaim, actor Raul Julia made the odd decision to play M. Bison in the infamous Street Fighter movie. At this stage of movie history, it’s become a running joke that live-action film adaptations of video games tend to be terrible. This goes right back to the first major instance of that happening, 1993’s Super Mario Bros. movie, which bore almost no resemblance to the game world or its characters, and alternated between bafflingly weird and confusingly stupid.
Another early entry in the bad video game movie race was 1994’s Street Fighter, based on the legendary fighting game Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, which spawned one of the most well-known franchises in all of gaming. Poorly written, haphazardly plotted, and also having little in common with its source material outside of the most basic character traits, Street Fighter was a mild box office success, although critics ripped it apart. A funny thing happened in the ensuing decades though, with Street Fighter crossing over into “so bad it’s good” territory for many.
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Today, Street Fighter is a cult favorite, and perhaps the biggest reason for that is the legitimately great and highly entertaining performance given by Julia as M. Bison. While he’s over the top and chews the scenery with abandon, his performance is a perfect match for the wacky tone of the movie as a whole, and he commands attention every second he’s onscreen. Sadly, Street Fighter ended up being Julia’s final film, as he passed away after a battle with cancer not long before its release. An actor of notable renown, here’s why Julia chose to sign on to the project.
Why Raul Julia Starred In Street Fighter
Raul Julia took the M. Bison role in Street Fighter for one main reason, that being his children loved the video game franchise, and he wanted to make a film they could all enjoy together. Julia’s kids helped him to research and prepare for the part, which he took seriously, studying real-life dictators and incorporating some of their behaviors into his portrayal of Bison. It was also Julia’s choice to give Bison an ambiguously British accent and sophisticated tone, even though the actor was himself Puerto Rican. Another factor was that Julia had been battling stomach cancer off and on for several years, which led to other severe health problems as a side effect. Due to his sometimes frail state, Julia’s family would accompany him to sets, allowing his kids to see Street Fighter be filmed as well.
Considering just how poor Julia’s health had become by Street Fighter‘s production, it’s a minor miracle that his Bison performance turned out so well. Even mainstream critics who otherwise bashed the video game movie as a whole offered praise to Julia’s work. The final cut also included a dedication to Julia, since he passed on before release day at age 54. In more recent years, his “But for me, it was Tuesday” speech to Chun-Li has also become a classic meme. While Street Fighter isn’t a great movie by any means, Julia is definitely the best part, and raises it from bad to fun almost single-handedly. It’s a shining example of the actor he was, and what the world lost upon his death.
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