Exclusive - Producer Ashok Amritraj talks STREET FIGHTER: The Legend of Chun Li
Posted by Frosty
Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub
The other day I was able to interview movie producer Ashok Amritraj. If you’re not familiar with Ashok’s name, he’s the CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment and his company produced the upcoming Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li movie. While I’ll have a full transcript in the coming days of our interview, since he gave me a lot of info on Street Fighter, I wanted to get those comments posted immediately.
For those that didn’t know a Street Fighter movie was being made….the film is being released next February by 20th Century Fox and it’s based on the video game. What you need to know is Kristin Kreuk stars as Chun Li and the film is her story. While other characters from the Street Fighter universe are in the film, they’ve made this movie an origin story…that way the film won’t overwhelm you with too many characters competing for screen time. And according to Mr. Amritraj, if this film is successful, they plan on making more films with each one concentrating on one character. When I spoke with Ashok, he said the plan would be to make a Ken or Ryu movie next.
Anyway, Ashok talks a lot about why he thinks this film will work, how many action scenes they have in the movie, and he even drops in the word hadouken….which made me happy. It always reassures me when the producer of a video game movie knows key terms from the franchise.
While we’ll all have to wait till next February to see if the film really works, I think by concentrating on one character at a time, they’ve already made a better decision than most when it comes to making video games work on the big screen. Look for the full interview soon.
Collider: You brought up “Street Fighter”. I was going to get to that eventually. I might as well jump into it now. Many movie producers have tried to tackle the video game genre. Why is “Street Fighter” going to be the one that works?
Ashok: Wow. Video games are not easy to translate into movies obviously.
Ashok: But it’s a double-edged sword. On the one-hand you have a wonderful awareness and built-in audience, which is very important these days with the crowded market place. On the other hand, you have to make sure you please your core audience and it’s not always easy to do. We feel that in the “Street Fighter” world universe there are 3 key characters which are Ken, Ryu and Chun Li. So we hope the movie works but we’ve taken Chun Li and this is a movie “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li” so the Chun Li movie we’ve gone with and if it works we hope to do Ken and Ryu and so on. But we would do Chun Li and then we’d have Bison and Vega and you know some of the Balrog and all that.
First of all you relieve me by even knowing the names of the characters. (we both laugh) I’m very happy about that because I speak for “Street Fighter” fans that are looking forward to finally getting…you know video game movies have had a very difficult transition to the movie screen...but I interrupted you. I’m sorry. I’m happy you know the names.
Ashok: No, I really think we have a good film. I really think Kristin is enough unknown to play the role and not be identified with some star. While on the other hand, people kind of know who she is, you know from “Smallville” but not really. She fits the role. I think she’s absolutely terrific in the film and we have very cool sort of all the things from the video game that we tried for but then we feel we’ve not really stuck to it. It’s an origin story of Chun Li is what the movie is and we feel it works. I mean I feel it works.
I’m really looking forward to it. So how are the action set pieces? Are they…did you guys take any inspiration from the video game? And if so, which one did you look at as the one you wanted to base it on?
Ashok: We did up to a point and then we went off and went into…it is a classic martial arts movie. I mean it’s a classic genre martial arts film in certain ways. In other ways it has the hadouken - the chi ball… It has the spinning bird kick you know, where she does her spinning bird kick. It has many of those sort of iconic images to it but I think the action sequences are quite wonderful to tell you the truth. So it has some lovely character moments but I think the 6 or 7 set pieces with the ending being sort of the big one between Chun Li and Bison is great and the character of Gen is terrific, so it’s a cool movie.
About how many characters in total do you take from the game? Like 8 to 10? 12? And also you mentioned that if it’s successful you’re going to move on to Ryu and Ken.
Ashok: Chun Li, Bison, Balrog, Vega, Maya, Cantana I think have shown up in parts of the video game but are not major characters. They’re minor characters; at least that’s what Capcom says to me. I don’t follow it to the minutia… and then there’s Gen. So 7 or 8 characters.
Okay so assuming it does well at the box office is this the kind of thing you’d want to move right into doing another “Street Fighter” movie?
Ashok: I would love to. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I would like to do the Ryu and Ken stories. Again everything is always tied of the performance.
Of course. Do you see those 2 as being one movie together or separate movies?
Ashok: No, separate movies.