Disclaimer: I am an SNK fan.
Back in the day, everyone had a fighting franchise that was their favorite. In the 90s, we had some biggies.
Mortal Kombat appeared in arcades around 1992. Street Fighter was born in the late 80s and grew to major fame in the 90s with the Championship Edition. Fatal Fury also arrived in 1991 with Fatal Fury 2 following in 1992. To round out the list, it is best to mention Tekken and Virtual Fighter also being popular.
Like most 80s and 90s kids, I spent a lot of time in the arcade. My fighting game of choice was always in the SNK series. Normally, Fatal Fury or World Heroes (both of which, I beat).
So, to be totally transparent and fair…SNK is my jam.
The first Fatal Fury movie I saw was Fatal Fury 2. I was working in a Suncoast Video store at the time and likely bought a copy of the VHS when it was released. I can’t totally remember, but what I do remember is being very impressed with the film. So much so that I later bought the DVD.
This movie has always held a special place in my list of favorites. Largely because of the music. But I also recalled it depicting my favorite characters from the game very well.
I decided to sit down and rewatch it to write a review. Here are my thoughts on this 90s anime movie which I have always enjoyed. Does it hold up?
Spoiler Alert! I’m like totally recounting most of the story below.
Round 1 – Fight!
Fatal Fury 2, was released in 1994 by Viz Communications, and it has one of the most powerful openings to any anime movie I have ever watched.
It begins with a montage of events all while the story’s antagonist is playing the organ in his castle’s chapel. This organ music is both beautiful and chilling. It’s haunting and has become a major earworm (a song stuck in your head) for me throughout the years.
During the montage, we see the new villain, Wolfgang Krauser, searching for the villain from the first movie, Geese Howard. Geese is in hiding while he recovers from the wounds he sustained during the epic battle between him and the hero of the game and movie series, Terry Bogard.
When Wolfgang finds Geese, he asks him who is the man who beat the “King of Southtown?” Geese is not shy to answer.
Having played and beat Geese myself, it feels almost as if Geese is telling Wolfgang Krauser that the person who beat him is me. Again…chills.
Fatal Fury 2 has the kind of animation I like, and when combined with the voice acting, the characters come to life on the screen.
Terry is introduced to us while working the docks. He’s clearly trying to live a normal and anonymous life. As he does his job, he’s confronted by another fighter.
Terry is our hero. He’s calm and courteous. He represents the common man, just living his life while trying to help a less fortunate kid. He doesn’t want to fight, but he will. Especially when it appears to be an honorable challenger.
The fight starts and the scene transforms into something similar to a background from a 90s fighting game. They are on the docks and the clouds are rolling over them. It’s perfect, only lacking a graphic that says, ROUND 1 – Fight!
When Terry fights Kim Kapwhan, he suffers a small injury which appears to be something that has nagged him since his battle with Geese. Terry is fine and easily beats Kim and out of honor pulls him from the water after the fight.
It’s right after the fight, that Krauser makes his presence known and confronts Terry in a back alley.
Krauser is a mix of things, he sounds almost like Dracula, and looks like he belongs in another 90s anime like BASTARD!! or Record of Lodoss War.
The fear that Terry has meeting Krauser and being outclassed by his fighting skills is palatable. He seems to be able to read and mimic his opponent’s moves and easily kicks Terry’s ass.
Round 2 – Fight!!
This is where the story truly starts.
Fatal Fury 2 is a redemption tale. Terry has suffered a massive loss, and he’s not handling it well.
With another glorious use of music, which is gripping and emotional, we watch Terry spiral. He’s drinking. Wandering streets. Getting beat up by thugs. He’s a broken man.
And we, as the viewer, get to go along with him on this sad journey in the form of a montage with precise angles and perfect use of slow-mo.
To really elevate the story, the writers give us a flashback to further develop our villain and his motives. This is when we learn how Krauser and Geese are connected. It turns out they are half-brothers.
Finally, we are introduced to the other major players of the Fatal Fury franchise, as they learn of Terry’s loss.
First up, the biggest sex symbol of any and all SNK games, Mai Shiranui! Mai has certain attributes that the fans love and in order to service such fans those attributes often…bounce. Just saying.
Mai has a crush on Terry’s brother Andy Bogard and while Andy trains, she attacks him. She’s a little cranky with Andy (he’s been ignoring her) and at first Mai seems to be a fighter that’s a good match for him.
But once Andy learns what happened to his brother, from his friend Joe Higashi, he returns to his normal cool self. In fact, it is easy to say that Andy is too cool for school. He does not want what Mai is selling (while the rest of us do!).
Now that we have met Andy and Joe, the three main characters of the Fatal Fury series are now alive on our screen, and wow, they really look and sound like you would expect them to. Like they stepped from the Neo Geo arcade machine and right onto the TV screen.
Once again, the organ music from the intro of the movie builds up in the background as Jubei, the master of the school where Andy and Mai trained, tells the group the history of Wolfgang Krauser.
I must note that as a writer, the biggest rule is to show and not tell. In this scene, we watch Andy grip his knee and then make a fist. This is such a great example of the rule. They could have had him say, “I’m mad!” or “This makes me so mad!” But instead, they showed him getting angry. Amazing!!!
Jubei challenges Andy to a fight because he will not let Andy rush off to confront Krauser. As they fight, we are once again shown a character’s emotions when we see Mai’s eyes shake and shimmer with concern and care for Andy.
Round 3 – Fight!!!
I don’t want to spoil the entire movie. Just know that we are awarded with more flashbacks, this time masterfully showing Terry’s background. After this, Terry starts to pull his shit together and get back into the game.
There is a long climactic battle. Our hero and villain fight, trading kick for kick and punch for punch. And yes, the unthinkable happens.
One last spoiler…and this is the moment that hurts my feelings the most. Krauser… his…. his… his huge organ is destroyed. No, your sickos, not that one! The one he plays the haunting music on! Man, what a loss!
I might sound like I’m repeating myself, but the music in this movie is a character in and of itself. And when the movie’s seventy-five minutes are over it has only felt like twenty minutes. It flows that good.
Fatal Fury 2 is one of my favorite 90s anime movies. Yes, I have seen Akira. It was my favorite in the 90s. I have probably seen it 10-11 times. But watching 90s anime movies again now, I have to say that I’d rather watch Fatal Fury 2 over and over.
So, I would list Perfect Blue and Fatal Fury 2 as my favorites. I mean one is a cinematic masterpiece and the other is, well, Perfect Blue.
I’m kidding! I’m kidding!
What do they say? There is no accounting for taste. At this blog, we believe that. Taste is subjective and not objective. To each their own.