A twelve-episode anime series
Fatal Fury is a popular video game franchise by SNK which made its debut back in 1991. It was meant to challenge Street Fighter II for fighting game supremacy in the arcades. At some point the game became popular enough to be translated into animated movie form. So far there have been three movies that followed the main characters of the game, with only the first two actually having anything to do with the video game's storyline.
Video games to anime have been cursed with the exact same reputation as video games to film, film to video games, comics to film, whatever. They are usually pretty bad for plenty of reasons; either they aren't faithful to the source material, they're meant for fans, or they're just poorly made story and production wise. The first two Fatal Fury movies are just poorly made, and the only people I've come across to like them are die hard fans of the game and those with very low standards. This set collects the first two movies on one disk; there's no movie switch option. The second movie can only be seen either by watching the first movie all the way through or selecting it during the scene menu.
Fatal Fury - Legend of the Hungry Wolf:
Geese Howard is a wealthy martial artist and crime boss who operates in South Town. He plans a successful ambush to eliminate his martial arts rival Jeff Bogard. Jeff's two sons named Terry and Andy witness the murder along with their master Tung Fu Rue. On Tung's request, the two brothers leave South Town to learn and master their own style of martial arts, because they are no match for Geese due to their ages.
Ten years later, the brothers return to South Town, and they reunite with Tung as promised. He informs them that he will teach only one of them a secret technique that can defeat Geese. The two brothers plan to battle each other in the King of Fighters Tournament which is sponsored by Geese, with the purpose of learning the move to avenge their father.-summary
The first movie is the definition of low budget OVA. It's maybe about 45 minutes and it feels like that too, but in a very bad way. Everything feels horribly rushed; romance angle, focus on characters, and worst of all the fights. The King of Fighters tournament as well as the fight with Geese himself is over in almost no time, and the pay off to these segments aren't the least bit rewarding. The animation is horrid during the fight exchanges. There are plenty of stills, one hit victories, and terrible fight choreography. There is no martial arts to speak of, only frequent displays of the power moves found in the video game. The character designs are pretty much loyal to their video game counterparts, with the exception of Andy who is sporting silver, blue-ish like hair instead of his blond mane. Production wise, only the J-pop soundtrack manages to stand out and it helps the movie get by a little easier. The voice acting comes in sub and dub, with the English cast standing out the most for me.
The characters have very little depth and everyone is a plot device. Several "key" characters are quickly and predictably killed off, but since they're barely developed at all it's kind of difficult to feel for them. The only thing actually worth noting is how faithful to the game this first movie is; the focus is on Terry, Andy, Joe Higashi, and even Geese, and they do get a small amount of action time to please the fans, but the short run time renders these segments to very small appetizers, because they all feel like something more is missing.
Being directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi whom is also responsible for Art of Fighting, a video game to anime that is so awful I recognize it as the worst anime of all time; it's no wonder Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf is so bad. However, I will give him credit for at least trying to give something to the fans, but as consumers spending our money, we need something a little bit more then, "hey, at least I tried".
Fatal Fury II: The New Battle:
Geese Howard survives his encounter with Terry Bogard. He soon goes into hiding with intentions on healing from his wounds. Later, he receives a visit from his half brother Wolfgang Krauser, who seeks to defeat Terry only for entertainment purposes.
Terry encounters Krauser in a dark alley and immediately his skills are tested. After Terry is soundly beaten. He then loses the will to fight again. While witnessing Terry's defeat, a young boy named Tony tries his best to help him regain his confidence to take up Krauser's rematch. But Terry is overcome with fear, and he soon becomes consumed by an alcohol habit. -summary
Much better than the last movie for sure, but not really saying anything at all. Directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi (Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal), Fatal Fury 2 picks up immediately after the first movie, and like its predecessor it actually follows the game by introducing plenty of characters, such as the female ninja Mai, Tae-Kwon Do expert Kim Kaphwan, along with the bull fighter Laurence Blood. Furuhashi did his best to deliver to the fans and for the most part they at least felt like they belonged in the movie.
The character development is much better here as the viewer will get to know Terry's weaker side. He spends the movie soaked up in his depression after his loss. Krauser is also developed well as not only a serious threat, but you will learn what drives him. Surprisingly, the story is pretty good here for a fighting anime based on a game. The pacing is done rather well, the fights are well dispersed, and it plays on its theme of fighting leading to emptiness rather well.
Despite having a bigger budget it's the production values where the movie really fails at. The action scenes for the most part are disappointing, as they consist of very quick victories, reliance on super power moves, and bad choreography. Terry actually battles Andy and the battle is over before it even really starts, as its made up of way too much unseen action. The fist exchanges are heavy on reused cels and inconsistent animation, this is most notable during the final battle which leads to it not being as grand as it could have been. The artwork is better this time though with the characters resembling their game versions quite well, even Mai has her little "bounce" going on. The voice acting is still pretty good, Paul Dobson (Hulk vs. and Death Note) as Krauser turning in the best performance.
Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle had some serious potential though; if the movie had the production values of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie in order to deliver the exact same awesome martial arts action found in that movie. Then I would be the first in line to hail it as the greatest video game to anime movie ever. Unfortunately, it hovers around mediocre since it didn't deliver any memorable action scenes.
This collection is something I will only recommend to fans of the game and hardcore action fans. Casual anime fans will come away completely unimpressed, especially if they already seen Ninja Scroll or Street Fighter II. If you have any interest in this, then I recommend catching this on youtube if possible. I don't think anyone should be spending money on this.
Ratings: Fatal Fury (1), Fatal Fury 2 (2.5)
-Second movie, some decent production values here and there
-Missed potential all around, first movie
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A twelve-episode anime series
Movie Follow-up to the Anime Series