Street Fighter Resurrection: A Sitdown With Joey Ansah

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Street Fighter: Resurrection, the new film from Joey Ansah, takes place right before the events of Street Fighter V. I was fortunate enough to speak to the director himself about how the film came about, his process, and how the events here will flow into the upcoming Television sequel to Assassin's Fist, World Warrior.

Matthew Mueller: Seeing where Assassin's Fist has come from since Legacy is truly impressive. Going into Resurrection, what are the biggest things that you've learned from those previous two films as far as directing and acting?

Joey Ansah: That's a good question. So for the record, I'm not in Resurrection. Akuma is not in Resurrection, so I know there's a lot of people that want to see Akuma, but it's kind of like, he's a character that I don't want to overexpose, see what I mean? Akuma's power is, there's a degree of restraint, even in Assassin's Fist you know. He wasn't really in it throughout, but when he was there you were like oh s***. In terms of directing, I picked a new challenge. Resurrection, a little bit of a background on how this project came to be. Capcom were very keen for us to do another online thing, something that we could turn around quite quickly and get online around the launch of Street Fighter V, because the kind of license that myself and my producers had for Assassin's Fist gave us a sequel clause.

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Now the direct sequel for Assassin's Fist we are developing for TV, which will be World Warriors, which will require hour long episode length, for me to really be able to tell the story the way I need to tell it. So when Capcom were kind of like look, we want you to exercise this option, this sequel and do something, I was like what story am I going to tell? To pull this thing together in like, you know, six months from literally inception to delivery and on-air, and it's like f***, and I just thought look, why not do Street Fighter V?

It's a bit unorthodox leaping 10 years down the timeline to do something like that, but hey, do something different. While most people wait for World Warrior, which will hopefully be a long series, let's do something radical and tell the prologue of Street Fighter V, and part of the reason that was attractive to me was because it's contemporary and a lot of it was quite urban. So I thought we'll have a different feel. It will still be the same cinematic universe that Assassin's Fist is in, but we're going to see them in an urban environment. More grown up and out of the mystical wonderful Japanese mountains and old world dojos and in a contemporary urban setting that has technology, that has guns, etc.

I think it would be very easy for me to say let's give people more of the same like Assassin's Fist, you know? But I want to take people on a brand new journey, and Charlie Nash is a very interesting character whose back from the dead. That's why I loved Akuma. You know he is one man's freedom fighter and another man's terrorist type of thing. Akuma is a badass and kind of a villain, but not always. Some people see Akuma as super righteous in what he stands for. So Nash is a very interesting character, who is barely good in this, you know. You could say he's an anti-hero, but he will f*** up allies as well if they get in his way or stand in front of his objective. That makes for quite compelling and edgy viewing. You find yourself rooting for a character that really doesn't give a f***.

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(Photo: Joey Ansah)

Directorially, and sorry, I give these long roundabout answers but directorially what did I learn. I just think, I believe in working with the same team quite a lot. You can really grow your shorthand and it can really improve. Having gone through the process of a lengthy post feature length production like Assassin's Fist, it's great to work with my colorist again, and work with the sound engineers again, and work with my composer again, you know, and push the limits of, okay, look what we achieved the first time around, and how can we take this to the next level? Not just as individuals but as a unit, and I think in Resurrection, despite it being the shortest piece at about 36 minutes in total of content, but the language is just as cinematic. I mean there's a new trailer, we just dropped a new trailer, so if you haven't seen it yet, go check it out, and it will display much more of that cinematic look, as opposed to the previous trailer that Machinima released, which didn't really, that was more of a teaser just showing you the fighters and the hero characters.

This also gave me a chance to create. Interpol played quite a big role in this, and it was a chance to create original characters. Part of what will make Street Fighter work in live action is you cannot just have Street Fighter characters on screen and no one else. You have to kind of seed these street fighter heroes amongst real world relatable characters. Does that make sense?

MM: Absolutely.

JA: and it kind of grounds them into how they can function in the real world. Not everyone can do fireballs and leap about, and that's a real challenge. I think a director has to go one step further, who if it succeeds, people will think this is a universe that we just want to keep seeing more and more of. It's got so much potential, and somehow they've balanced it and made it work. It's true to the game, but I don't have to suspend disbelief to get down with it and relate to it.

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MM: It's interesting to know that you were the one that said "let's jump ahead 10 years into the future" and do something different, as opposed to Capcom saying "well, we have a game and we need to put something out around it. Nash already comes into Resurrection in his post-death state, but do we get to see here or in World Warriors how that happened and came to be?

JA: The plan for World Warriors, of what I've written, is that you will fully meet Nash with Guile in their early missions, long before they've even encountered Bison personally. You will eventually see Nash's death as well.

MM: Okay, so that part will be filled in on the show.

JA: It will bridge the gap, yes.

MM: You also mentioned some of the other new characters in addition to Nash, Laura Matsuda is making her appearance here, and she's a new character in Street Fighter V, but she has ties to the older games as well through her brother. Do we see any of that backstory come into play here or is she more of a blank canvas?

JA: So this is the funny thing, when Capcom said we want another web series, and we want it stat. We want Assassin's Fist 2, and I'm like, well I can't. Assassin's Fist took 3 years of development and story creation. I can't just do Assassin's Fist 2 on a reduced web series budget ya know. I don't think people realize how much we made out of so little with Assassin's Fist. It's something I don't think me and the team could survive doing again. 2 million dollars cash to make something like Assassin's Fist, for that level. So when I was like look, I want to do something for Street Fighter V, because it's urban and it's contemporary it doesn't require mass set builds right? I can use real locations for the film. At the time, there were scant few details of new characters in Street Fighter. At the time, I think Nash was the only one being showcased in the teaser trailer for Street Fighter V, and then I had to ask and say "look, you need to give me a bit of info of what other new characters are coming up." They sent me the image of Laura Matsuda, and they were telling me she is related to Sean, and they were like "yeah, she is Sean's older sister" and I was like okay cool, and I started from there.

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(Photo: Capcom)

Now at the time they weren't saying here are the keys, come and see all of our R&D on Street Fighter V. Naturally that stuff is very sensitive, so I could ask questions and they would either say yes or no. Is this canon if I have this character doing this, and they would say "great idea but it's not canon, she would be doing this and I was then like okay, back to the drawing board. That actually happened with Charlie, so with Laura, I got into the history of the Matsuda family. She's Brazilian, and I think a quarter Japanese. Her grandfather was Japanese, given the Matsuda name. I've given this grandfather a name, and he's referenced and her motivations finds that Laura is now the Sheehan of the Matsuda school of martial arts teaching the Matsuda family style since her grandfather was killed, and she was one of the most promising students that stepped up.

You'll find out that her grandfather died under kind of scrupulous circumstances, so rather than her just being a good time girl in the game you know, I had to find out what is essential.

In a nutshell without giving much away, Bison is going to enact a doomsday plan in Street Fighter V, if they don't stop him in time things will be set in motion that will threaten the entire world. Someone is gathering up a lot of these fighters to go and take him on. This other person might have an agenda themselves. You have to think at this early stage, how does someone like Laura get caught up in something of this significance, of this importance. So Capcom gave me free reign to essentially create around the thin backbone of canon info they gave me, and I've built a story around it.

Capcom again may not do a full prequel to what I've done, so in which case hopefully they embrace it and take it as canon.

MM: It's got to be cool to add to the legacy of such an adored franchise.

JA: Yeah, and to make it believable! People love Street Fighter The Animated Movie right, the manga, and that was very dark. It wasn't frivolous and jokey and tongue in cheek, but the direction Street Fighter IV the game went, was almost comedic, so I've got to make a decision. Am I sticking with the darker, more edgy, brutal world of Street Fighter or going to go down this cartoon route? I think you know which route I chose. So that means certain things like the way Laura is presented in the game, I'm not being untrue to the essence of her character. She has to have more grit and more motivation other than she's a good time girl who wants to throw down with f****** killers. So I'll happily build in these motivations, like in Assassin's Fist, that do not contradict or insult the canon, but merely enhance it with a bit of intellectualism and sophistication for a more adult audience.

MM: I think when Resurrection comes out, everyone will be happy with your decision to go the less comedic route.

Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk.

JA: My pleasure, thank you very much.

Street Fighter: Resurrection is now available on go90.com