Videogame adaptations were once a joke: now, they seem to be the hottest thing on the Hollywood block. Studios have been scrambling to sign up even the most unlikely videogame franchises, recognising there’s a huge captive audience out there that, if you produce something good, will flock to it. Even then, I didn’t have Sega’s 2D brawler Streets of Rage on my silver screen bingo card.
Streets of Rage made its debut on the Mega Drive, and was a brilliant attempt to bring some of the magic of arcade brewers like Final Fight into the living room. It saw two sequels on that console, with Streets of Rage 2 generally regarded as the series high point, before being mothballed until DotEmu developed the excellent Streets of Rage 4 in 2020.
Lionsgate has acquired the rights to the series (thanks, Variety), and Derek Kolstad is going to both write and produce the film. Kolstad is best-known for his work writing John Wick and the sequels, so this is a guy who knows how to get a few kung fu chops in amongst the dialogue, and apparently working with Streets of Rage was a childhood ambition.
“When Dmitri first mentioned the idea of cracking a ‘Streets of Rage’ movie, I was so immediately freaking in,” said Kolstad. “And to play with Sega? The 10-year-old me is still grinning.”
Lionsgate is also currently making a Borderlands movie, which will doubtless be insufferable, and Streets of Rage will have a bunch of experience from previous adaptations behind it. The producers include Sega’s Toru Nakahara, who produced the first two Sonic movies, dj2 Entertainment’s Dmitri M. Johnson, Timothy I. Stevenson, Dan Jevons and Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Tony Shaw.
Don’t expect this one for a good while, though when it does arrive the source material may make for a better movie than you’d think. Underneath the uppercuts and often garish spectacle, Streets of Rage is about a group of cops and civilians who team up to fight corruption in their city, and the criminal gang behind it all. Yeah it’s not The Iliad, but it’s a decent set up for an action movie, and the series’ visual pizzaz and outlandish characters could well prove a good fit for the big screen.