`Street Fighter': Don't Remember Raul Julia By This

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# 1/2 "Street Fighter," with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. Written and directed by Steven E. de Souza, based on the video game "Street Fighter II." Everett 9, Newmark, Alderwood, Renton Village, Gateway. "PG-13" - Parental guidance strongly suggested; violence, mild profanity. -----------------------------------------------------------------

It's always sad to watch a distinguished actor's final performance, but sadder still when the actor's last exit is trapped in a lost cause.

With "The Crow," Brandon Lee had the benefit of a suitable vehicle for his premature departure from movie stardom. In sobering contrast, the late Raul Julia bows out with "Street Fighter," a chaotic, juvenile slag-heap of semi-futuristic action that should make at least a few Hollywood idiots think twice about adapting another video game.

Appearing fatigued and ravaged prior to the massive stroke that recently claimed his life, Julia nevertheless relishes his villainy as General Bison, the egomaniacal dictator who has kidnapped 63 relief workers in the civil-war torn nation of Shadaloo, threatening their execution if he doesn't receive $20 billion from the government of the Allied Nations.

A true professional, Julia managed to create - for a few moments, at least - a darkly comedic tyrant with a sly combination of vanity and delusion. Aiming for a playful, Shakespearean take on the role, Julia reminds us of the gift for comedy he displayed in several films, most notably "The Addams Family" and its sequel.

Unfortunately, his efforts are futile in the context of this below-average vehicle for Jean-Claude Van Damme, who is typically wooden as Colonel Guile, the Allied Forces hero who commands an assault on Bison's heavily armed palace. It's personal, of course: Guile's best friend is the first guinea-pig in Bison's experiment to turn soldiers into genetically altered super-killers.

A senile chimpanzee with a hangover could have written this brain-dead cacophony, but the actual culprit is Steven E. de Souza, a prolific hack - 12 produced scripts in the last 14 years! - whose credits peak with "Die Hard" (which is arguably its director's triumph) and hit rock bottom with "The Flintstones."

Making his inevitable directorial debut, de Souza lives up to his trashy record by playing it safe, providing a headache-inducing torrent of nonsensical mayhem punctuated by fleeting moments of half-witted humor.

Julia hams it up with subtle cleverness, and one throwaway line is certain to get a rise from anyone (including yours truly) who has ever worked for Microsoft.

But while de Souza's arrested development makes him a likely suspect to adapt a video game for movies, the result (like "The Super Mario Brothers" movie before it) is an empty exercise in hyper-stimulation. Or, to put it bluntly, a complete waste of time.