Raul Julia was a legend of his time but his untimely death sadly deprived us of what could have gone on to be one of the greatest sustained careers in Hollywood. For those of you growing up as a ’90s kid, Julia was more than likely known for his excellent portrayal of Gomez Addams in two big screen outings of the spooky Addams Family. But he also took on the mantle of playing M. Bison, one of the baddest villains in video game history in the 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme flick Street Fighter: The Movie. Let’s not beat about the bush, the film was 1 hour 42 minutes of the highest calibre trash but we’ll save that story for another day.
Julia who was 54 at the time of shooting and only agreed to take the role at the demand of his children, who naturally were as obsessed with the game as we all were. It would be one of his last and greatest performances on the silver screen, here’s the trailer if you dare!
Sadly, the film was destined to be a mess which on paper seemed odd as it was being written and directed by Steven E. de Souza. Steven was no stranger to TV or film with a catalogue like Knight Rider, 48 Hrs, Commando, The Running Man and Die Hard behind him. Sadly, it was the accumulation of everything from JCVD’s wage demand eating into the budget, poor casting (for the most part), bad story choices that left many of our favourite characters with nothing more than bit parts to the constant interference of Capcom.
Thankfully our saving grace was Julia’s portrayal of Shadaloo crime boss Bison and his master plan to take over the world by creating the ultimate genetic super soldier. He was quick-witted, super camp and had a cape to boot. His masterful execution brought this video game villain kicking and screaming into the real world. Among many of his great lines in the film the following clip might well be one of the greatest speeches of all time so deserves another watch:
It’s a crying shame that ultimately the film was complete and utter pap but it does hold a certain place in our hearts. If you think about it Street Fighter: The Movie acts as a lesson learned, we’ll at least that’s what we’d have hoped. Over the years we have been exposed to many a sub-par video game interpretations on the big screen, more so than hoped for but it’s a building block for the future and 2019 looks positive with the recent trailers for Detective Pikachu and fingers crossed the Sonic live action movie.
The character of M. Bison was first introduced to the world in 1991 and was known as Vega in Japan. As the game was translated for the world stage a few of the names were switched around. This was in part due to M. Bison originally being our favourite boxer character in the series and subsequently deemed too similar to the real-life Mike Tyson. Either way, you cannot resist the charm and electricity that Raul brought to the role.
Raul Julia, we salute you… I guess there’s only one thing left to say!