GAME OVER! Steven E. DeSouza’s directional debut (Sofiane’s Editorial)

For many folks fond of actions pictures of the 80s and 90s, Steven E. DeSouza has established a name within the industry  as the screenwriting wunderkind of the Reagan and Bush eras. if you ever watched  Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hrs , the hands of Steve E. DeSouza were on them.

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During that time-frame, as a bona fide TV maker penning scripts of my favorite shows like Knight Rider in the early 80s to The Flintstones Family in the mid 90s, Steven E. DeSouza has amassed lot of credits to do what other screenwriters would only dream of, becoming a movie director. 

Back in 90s, arcade games were in vogue and a particular beat-them-all game contributed to the momentum. Its name is STREET FIGHTER. Released in arcade all way back in 1987, the sequel took the gaming industry by storm.  Like Super Mario Bros. which was made into a movie in 1993, it was quite clear that Street Fighter was poised to be the prime candidate for a movie adaptation.

In early 1993, there was a rumbling around Los Angeles, about a group of Japanese businessmen working for CAPCOM, looking to adapt the Street Fighter Franchise into a movie. Producer Ed Pressman seized the occasion and  requested for a pitch.

Luckily for Steven E. DeSouza, Pressman was one of DeSouza’s acquaintance.  They talked about the potential of the movie. DeSouza wanted eagerly to be part of the project because he and his kids were fan of the game. They used to drop coins in the arcade from time to time. But condition applies, Steven DeSouza wanted CAPCOM to cancel all other meetings around Los Angeles.

CAPCOM executives have set a firm (if not an aggressive) deadline for the movie, to be released for Christmas of the following year (1994).   DeSouza, having an incredible resumé of action flicks whose box office success hits the $ 2 billion milestone , was not tested as a director. Nevertheless, the Japanese conglomerate agreed to give him a shot.

The lightening fast Steven E. DeSouza, worked on the script and got it ready overnight. What helped him so much was the materials sent to him by CAPCOM. According to the writer, CAPCOM had plan for future about the franchise.  The militaristic General M. Bison would own a secret bunker,  akin to James Bond’s villains, complete with mined river, layered with barracks and silos. The Final Boss would not be just a threat to The Street Fighter roster as in the game but to the whole world. This explain the plot DeSouza laid out;  Bison would  kidnap a group of 40 international relief workers and held them captive in his lair.

As a result, the movie departed from the generic tournament style into a James Bond action flix. Both DeSouza and CAPCOM agreed to that term during the production meeting. As a result SF was a mission-based story. It’s noted that the tournament style  was later adapted into Mortal Kombat.  DeSouza, clearly stated that he did not want to shoehorn all the elements of the game into a 90 minute movie, but hinted several use of supernatural powers for the sequel (which was never made partly due to the passing of Raul Julia and moderate success of the movie).

To make a story short, Street Fighter would be an action movie with a roster of the original cast taking part of a global conflict. On the evil side, we have General M. Bison, the final boss from the game wonderfully portrayed by the late Raul Julia. And on the good side, we have wisecracking GI Joe Col. Guile, played by Jean Claude Van Damme. CAPCOM insisted that Van Damme to be cast as the hero.

Originally CAPCOM wanted the entire roster to be included within the movie. That was impossible but Steven DeSouza’s genius paid off. During the meeting, he asked how many dwarves can CAPCOM name ?. No one could name all the dwarves.

“There’s a reason there’s seven dwarves,” says DeSouza, “There’s a reason there’s seven wonders of the world. There’s a reason it’s the Magnificent Seven, which is a remake of the Japanese movie The Seven Samurai. Seven is the number of characters an audience can keep in its head at any time.” So the writer set seven as a compromise, and CAPCOM, persuaded by the parlor trick, agreed to the limit.

One minute, Steven DeSouza wasn’t a  movie director. The next, he was.

During the casting process, CAPCOM asked to add two additional characters. Both parties originally agreed to have seven characters for the movie. But because CAPCOM was supervising the production, and co-financing the project, any change within the story required the approval. Steven DeSouza had really to go on math and divide the screen time for each character.

Street Fighter was filmed mostly in Queensland, Australia during the Q2 and Q3 of 1994. Several exterior scenes were filmed in Bangkok, Thailand which was used as the backdrop for the fictional Shadaloo City.  DeSouza envisioned a helicopter attack for the final showdown. However, due to the political instability in the region, the idea was scrapped in favor of boat attacks.

Below is the complete interview of Steven E. DeSouza talking about the making of Street Fighter, providing some insights and background information about the movie (as well as his past calling as a screenwriter wunderkind).  A must see.

GAME OVER!

Sofiane MEROUANI

Author: Sofiane Madani Merouani

Up in the air. Pop Corn Lover and a Dreamer - Avid Reader, Writer and Retro Gaming Collector.

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