Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist panel at MCM London Comic Con (October 2014)

Street Fighter Assassin's Fist Panel (Josh)

Photo by Josh McCullough

After hosting a panel at MCM London Comic Con in May, director, co-writer and star Joey Ansah returned to promote the release of Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist on DVD and Blu-ray. This time he was joined by producer Jacqueline Quella, Akira Koieyama (who plays Gouken), Gaku Space (who plays Goki), Mark Killeen (who plays Mr. Masters), director of photography James Friend, composer Patrick Gill, and costumer designer Emily Rose.

The series tells the origins of the characters Ryu (Mike Moh), Ken (Christian Howard), Master Gouken (Akira Koieyama), Akuma (Joey Ansah) and Goutetsu (Togo Igawa). As Ryu and Ken train in the Ansatsuken style of martial arts, their Master Gouken finds himself forced to revisit his dark past, which resulted in the loss of his brother. All of the original 12 episodes of the series debuted on Machinima in May.

Jeremy Graves of Manga Entertainment hosted the panel, which began with Joey explaining the special features that can be found on the DVD/Blu-ray. This was then followed by a world exclusive screening of the episode Epilogue, which had not been shown anywhere before.

As questions opened up to attendees, Joey was asked about playing his character Akuma. “[He’s] someone to study very closely,” said Joey, describing how he’s actually quite exhausting to portray, given the posture. “Obsessively studying the character [in the] comics, the games and the anime, it really gave a strong feel for who, or what he is.”

When asked about what the training was like when working on the series, Jacqueline said, “We decimated the chicken population of Bulgaria! These guys had a really, really high protein diet and we just couldn’t get enough. I don’t think anybody else in Bulgaria ate meat for six weeks while we were there.” She explained how the actors kept an eye on their diet and went to the gym everyday. She also mentioned how she received a note from Mark Killeen’s agent that he needs to eat an astronomically high number of chicken breast everyday, so she handed him some as soon as he got off the plane. She also highlighted how the actor that changed in size the most during training was Mike Moh, saying, “He sort of suddenly ballooned up all this muscle.”

With a second series in development, based on the World Warrior arc, it was certain that there would be a question asking for information. Joey answered, “Jacqueline and I have not stopped since Assassin’s Fist wrapped. We’re promoting Assassin’s Fist and also working to make World Warrior as big and beautiful as possible.”

“We do hope to be able to announce something very soon,” added Jacqueline. “Just watch this space.”

When asked what the biggest challenge was in bringing Ansatsuken to the screen Joey described what it was like having to create a fictional martial art on film that looks like a real style. “You’ve got to study all the stances from the game,” he said. “Take what’s established, shots wise, and then build around that. So it was just a lot of attention to detail.”

Street Fighter Assassin's Fist Panel

One attendee asked how hard it was to find the emotional aspects of the characters for the series. “It has to be a character story,” said Joey, explaining how people were not really expecting “a heartfelt character story” from a fighting video game adaptation. He also mentioned how during the making of the series, it got to the point where Jacqueline would say, “There needs to be more action in this, there’s too much talking.”

Jacqueline revealed how one of her favourite parts of the series is when Master Gouken says goodbye to Ryu and Ken. “I’ve seen people weep at that point,” she said. “You really get the feeling of that emotional connection that he has with his students. It’s heartbreaking.”

“When I read the script I felt, ‘Finally, I can show my talent,” said Gaku in response to just how much drama there was in the series. “Because I’m naturally talented,” he added.

Joey also stressed that a large part of the emotion in the series comes from the musical score by Patrick Gill. “I didn’t want to just bombard it with Street Fighter themes throughout the entire series,” said Patrick. “The music had to be very much in the sense of the narrative. You don’t actually hear the Ryu theme till about episode six. We wanted to have it develop as the characters were developing.” Patrick added how he worked on the score for three months and found it tough, but a great journey too.

One attendee asked about the transition of Akuma in the series. Joey revealed how because the character has been warped by Satsui no Hadou, “he ceases to look like any specific race – he’s become this monstrous thing.” He definitely wanted to cast a Japanese actor as Goki, and so had Gaku fill the role, to show just how far the transition goes. Joey added that had there been more time, there would have been more scenes showing the stages of this transition.

As the panel came to a close Joey thanked everyone for attending the panel. “Thank you guys. It’s great to meet the home crowd.”

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 27 October.

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