Pixel to Cel: “Fatal Fury – The Motion Picture”
And, we’re back!
Last time in Pixel to Cel, I covered two early 90s OVAs (Original Video Animations) that were packaged together by Viz in 1999 as Double Impact covering the first two installments of the Fatal Fury video game franchise. This time, we’re roaring out the gate with Fatal Fury The Motion Picture (1994), released by Viz to the states in 2000 (on DVD, at least! A VHS release hit the West a few years prior). Masami Obari (Voltage Fighter Gowcaiser, 1996) is back on character design and direction, and with an hour and forty minutes, he has plenty more to play with than the prior two installments did.
The “motion picture” picks up some indeterminate time after the OVAs, opening with an archeological dig somewhere in Egypt where an archaeologist has uncovered a mysterious artifact. However, before he can leave the underground chamber with it, his entire excavation team is summarily butchered by the big bad’s three immensely powerful flunkies, Hauer (Paul Dobson – Naraku, Inuyasha 2000-2004), Jamin (John Payne, Ramba Ral anyone?), and Panni (Janyse Jaud – Sarah / Lee Kanker, Ed, Edd n Eddy 1999-2008). The archaeologist manages to escape the scene, only for Laocorn Gaudeamus (the big bad of the film, voiced by Matt Hill—Raphael, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III 1993) to cut him off and promptly kill him to claim the newfound treasure for himself.
The artifact is in fact armor, a piece of armor belonging to the god of war, Mars. Laocorn puts it on (it kinda merges with him actually… creepy!) and tests out a ki blast of extraordinary magnitude on the desolate scenery. Cut to Terry Bogard (Mark Hildreth – Heero Yui, Gundam Wing 1995), seeming to ask the audience whether we “Feel the coming storm?”, then we get the title card.
Fun so far!
Following the main title sequence, we find Joe Higashi in the locker room of a packed arena. Recovered from his mauling at the hands of Wolfgang Krauser back in Fatal Fury II, tonight is his very public comeback match against Hwa Jai, whom he drops promptly with a well-placed Muay Thai knee while Andy Bogard (Peter Wilds – Dingo, Sonic Underground 1999), and Mai Shiranui (Lisa Ann Beley – Relena Peacecraft, Gundam Wing, Duh!) watch on from the stands.
Cutaway from Joe’s victory to bright lights in a big city, a mysterious young woman is being stalked through the streets by several masked individuals. The woman darts into an arcade, where Terry Bogard is losing at a game. When the fleeing woman bumps into Terry, the masked assailants appear, clearly pursuing her. Terry steps in, making quick work of them, but finds the woman has disappeared amid the brawl.
Returning to Joe, Andy, and Mai at an after-show party, Kim Kaphwan (David Kaye – Clank from various Ratchet & Clank fare) arrives with his kids and stunning wife in tow. Joe takes a moment to ogle Ms. Kaphwan (naturally), then wonders with his friends what could be delaying Terry, as as he should have shown up by now. This gives Terry the opening he needs to slyly but suddenly announce his presence from a nearby table. Strangely, the woman Terry saved blunders into the party just moments later, with another masked warrior (this one huge) crashing the party as well.
Kim Kaphwan takes point, wanting his children to witness him in a life or death fight (anime dads are an odd breed). After a brutal, largely one sided conflict, Kim manages to defeat his masked foe with one of his special techniques pulled out at the last second. Afterward, the mysterious woman introduces herself as Sulia Gaudeamus (Myriam Sirois – Akane Tendo, Ranma ½ across its multiple titles), reveals that her assailants were her brother Laocorn’s minions, then asks for the help of Terry, Andy, Joe and Mai in stopping her brother from finding the remaining pieces of the Armor of Mars, and becoming a maniacal god of combat.
The big four agree, and soon find themselves jet-setting across the world with Sulia’s exposition on the history of her family being linked to the armor, her brother’s dwindling sanity, the possibility of Hakkyokuseiken and Krauser’s techniques being linked, and how history’s events over the centuries have moved the various pieces of armor across the globe. They travel to numerous exotic locales with the speed of a madcap Bond flick in their search for the armor: Turkey, Germany, Japan, and China. Gaudeamus’ cronies dog the heroes the whole way, stealing away the pieces of armor before they can get to them, leading to the final showdown in Israel where the last piece of armor remains.
I won’t spoil the end here like I did last time.
The motion picture is unique from the OVAs in that it doesn’t follow a specific Fatal Fury game’s plot. Instead, it is penned to be completely original, with a unique set of villains designed specifically for the movie, each representing the elements: Jamin is fire, Hauer is wind, Panni (who has an awesome set of tights!) is water.
Laocorn and Sulia are original characters as well, Sulia specifically being a love interest and juxtaposition of Terry in that she is his opposite. Terry is blond haired with blue eyes, while Sulia is blue haired with golden eyes. Terry’s abilities are are all combat, inflicting excessive damage, while Sulia can heal with the touch of her hands or, as shown later in the film, with her whole body, with said body coming into full contact with Terry’s to save his life. It is the relationship between Terry and Sulia that forms the heart of the film. A damaged paragon, Terry is still haunted by the death of his first love, Lily, and Sulia is an all too familiar affection, one that he can’t quite let in, at first.
As his emotional walls come down, we see, be it briefly, a happier Terry Bogard emerge, which should give you something of a hint on how things will ultimately turn out between him and Sulia.
Character development aside, there’s plenty of cameos from the franchise throughout, plus one from Samurai Shodown if you watch carefully during a dance club scene roughly halfway into the film. Mai Shiranui supplies ample fanservice for the complete runtime, her dual suspension bouncing so much it likely set off the Jiggle CounterTM feature on nearby ADV video releases back then. Masami Obari, true to form serves up cheesecake and beefcake for both sexes as every male is a pretty boy that goes topless at some point or other.
Fast paced, plenty of action, romance, laughs, and some painted cel flesh, Fatal Fury the Motion Picture is an all around good time that has it all. Up next on Pixel to Cel? Here’s a clue…
“EXCUUUSE MEEE, PRINCESS!”
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