Saturday, November 10, 2007

RYU versus SAGAT
The Superstar of Muay Thai: The Grand Prison Battle Symphony (Group TAC/Capcom/Manga)
Street Fighter II V Ep. 9 When: June 1995
Why: Gisaburō Sugii How: Kōji Tsujitani/Skip Stellrecht & Banjō Ginga/Peter Spellos

The story so far...
After years apart, the martial arts brothers Ken Masters and Ryu are reunited when the wealthy Ken invites his Japanese friend to stay with him in the United States.

Together the two embark on a journey to hone and develop their fighting skills by making the uncontrolled environment of the world their dojo.
With the help of their tour guide, Chun-Li; Hong Kong delivers the pair gang violence at the underground fight club, Kowloon Palace, and a clash with martial arts actor Fei Long on the set of his newest action picture.

Ken and Ryu join forces with Fei Long at Chun-Li's father's dojo, where Thai mercenaries, hired by the Ashura, attack to assassinate the dojo master, police Captain Dorai, who has been assigned to take them down.

Though the Muay Thai mercenaries are comprehensively defeated, Ken and Ryu are excited by the unique qualities of the powerful joint-driven fighting style.
They soon take leave for Thailand to get a firsthand experience, but things go wrong when the Ashura seek revenge by planting drugs on Ryu. While Ken seeks out evidence for the masked man who framed him, Ryu is forced to face prison life, and the wrath of Sagat -- fallen Emperor of Muay Thai!

Previous Form:
Ryu (#27): Ranking victories over Balrog, Sagat, and Zangief.
Sagat (#180): Defeated at the hands of Dhalsim and Ryu, with a victory over Ryu also.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Sagat 4 (Steroid Popper)
Intelligence: Sagat 2 (Average)
Speed: Ryu 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Ryu 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Ryu 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Ryu 3 (Explosives)

- Ryu is a Japanese fighter who was orphaned and raised by the master of the mysterious unnamed ansatsuken fighting style,
Gouken. A life of training would develop Ryu into one of the greatest fighters in the world, utilizing Gouken's fighting techniques and mastery over the hadou ki energies.

Ryu is an incredibly well rounded fighter capable of harnessing his ki for trademark attacks such as; the Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku hurricane kick, Hadou-ken fireballs, the Sho-ryu ken dragon uppercut, along with an array of variations of each.

- Known as the Emperor of Muay Thai, Sagat is supremely skilled in the fighting style often referred to as the "science of the eight-limbs."
Revolving mostly around elbows, knees, fists, and kicks; Sagat's Muay Thai takes full advantage of his height and physical strength. Complimenting his furious style is the development of various ki attacks that stem from a fierce rivalry with hadou practitioner,
Ryu. Many of these energy attacks not only rival the Japanese fighter's weapons, but also imitate them, ie; the tiger uppercut, and tiger fireballs.

Though he spent much time with the criminal element Shadaloo, Sagat's character is not traditionally evil. After a lengthy period seeking vengeance against Ryu, Sagat even came to regret impulsive violence, and found some degree of peace.
- Additional: Ryu and Sagat have a fierce rivalry dating back to the first Street Fighter, where Ryu's defeat of the Muay Thai master left him humiliated, and baring the scars of their battle. It was
this result, along with an unexpected rematch, that has set the pair up with a record of 1-1-0 (a win each).

The Math: Draw The Pick: Ryu

What went down...
Having defended himself against prison toughs, Ryu garners the attentions of greatly respected and pampered prisoner, Sagat. A former Muay Thai fighting champion, Sagat's honor is seemingly replaced by the inevitability of a lengthy sentence and the traditions of inmate social politics.

Sagat rises from his extravagant corner of the prison, sending a wave of betting through prisoner and guardsman alike. One of the prisoners brings Sagat his ceremonial Mongkon head circlet, and gloves for each of the fighters, adding a touch of ceremony to the occasion.

Delighted by the prospect of a genuine one-on-one with a greater Muay Thai fighter, Ryu straps the gloves on and takes a Thai stance. Sagat is amused by the Japanese upstart's intentions to meet him on his own terms. He quickly introduces Ryu to his style, throwing a kick to knock him off balance, before hitting a devestating diving blow!

The blow leaves Ryu in a spin and sends a brief hushed awe through the crowd of inmates. Sagat follows it with another stiff kick to the head that makes good use of his reach advantage, before connecting with another string bone-shattering blows - kicks, elbows and knees all included!

Struggling desperately against the barrage of Sagat's explosive attacks, Ryu desperately launches his own counter effort. Though he forces Sagat into defensive blocks, it's not long before the master reasserts himself with yet another knock-out blow, this time an uppercut!

As Ryu continues to get knocked around by the much larger fighter, the action finally draws the attentions of corrupt prison warden, Nuchitt.

The warden watches on with sadistic delight as Ryu again makes an attempt to fight back. He displays a basic mastery of Muay Thai fundamentals that shocks even Sagat! With Ryu's skill level advancing, Sagat unleashes his fully fury with a string of blows that culminate in the legendary tiger knee crush!

The move sends Ryu hurtling back into the prison wall, where he leaves a smearing blood stain as his body slumps lifelessly to the ground.

Believing the Japanese fighter defeated, Sagat walks away to the cheers of the inmates, only to hear a shocking voice from behind! Sagat turns to find his opponent standing and at the ready, showing strength and determination far beyond the young fighter's years.

Ryu acknowledges that Muay Thai has many further levels to be mastered, and removes his gloves to display a more familiar technique. Sagat charges him, and gets an immediate taste of the finesse of Ryu's trained feet.

Ryu unleashes his own flurry of kicks and punches, evening the scores by spraying the champion's blood. Despite the impressive power of his attack, Sagat remains standing, and impressed by his opponent's skill and honor, he reveals the predicament that brought him to be imprisoned.

Sagat reveals common themes beyond their fighting spirits.
Having refused to throw a fight to end his dominance as champion, Sagat found himself at the centre of an Ashura plot to frame him for drug possession. His passion rekindled, Sagat calls an end to the fight, and promises Ryu protection.

With the intentions of taking half the kitty from betting, the warden steps in to demand the fight continue. Despite the threat of reprieve, Sagat defiantly throws down his gloves and walks away. The corrupt warden draws a chain and intends to attack Sagat from behind, but Ryu intervenes.

Disrespected, the warden draws a pistol, eager to take revenge on the only two inmates to have resisted his tortures without a scream.

As the warden prods the gun barrel at Sagat's stomach, he hatches a scheme to disguise the murder as the result of a riot attempt. Ryu obliges the claims, leaping into the air before Nuchitt can pull the trigger. He kicks the gun from his hand, giving Sagat an opening to pound his powerful fist against the warden's face.

The pair double team the podgy warden, putting an end to his threats.
Ryu and Sagat salute each other in triumph as the crowd of inmates cheers the decimation of their torturous warden.

The hammer...
Well, I guess you could call this one a double feature.
It was a tough call to make, but while the expected battle of Sagat/Ryu ends in a draw, I think we could call their battle with Warden Nuchitt a seperate, and victorious affair.

So, if by now you haven't figured it out: I like
Street Fighter.
Truth be told, I may very well love Street Fighter, in a strictly non-prison movie fashion, which sort of brings things awkwardly full circle, eh?
Shades of Midnight Express collide with the martial arts standard of learning fighting techniques from wrongly accused inmates, but the influences of this particular episode of Street Fighter II V aren't one-way.

It's interesting to note that Sagat, learning of Ryu's contemplations of hadou, sends him in the direction of India to seek out the wisdom of the yoga master,
Dhalsim. Eagle-eyed fight watchers will recall a similar scenario in the previously featured Street Fighter II #2, where Sagat and Ryu meet up on that same path.

To the best of my knowledge there's nothing in the games to connect these events, so it does lead one to wonder if this might be another case of UDON absorbing various influences from the Street Fighter medias.

It's interesting to observe Sagat as a purely heroic figure.
Certainly in the tradition of the games he has served the role of inadvertant villain as boss and sub-boss in the first two installments. A menacing appearance and association with Shadaloo and Bison further defined a dark path for the character, but ultimately his arc in the games represents much the same philosophies as Ryu's struggle with dark hadou.

A serious of obstacles delays the purity of Sagat's vengeful confrontations with Ryu, and ultimately he comes to renounce such a bitter goal. Even so, sins of the past continue to dog him as
Dan Hibiki, in a parody of common SNK themes, seeks revenge for the death of his father, who was responsible for Sagat's eye damage. Like the recent Wizard debacle, this parody proves all too feasible in the Street Fighter world, and may be lost on many.

As we roll on to Street Fighter IV in 2008, a lot of fans are clamouring for the return of their favourite characters. I myself would delight at the opportunity to play Sagat in what is expected to be a technological revolution for the series, but at the same time, regret the potential shift in character that might incur.

We're still running considerably behind on updates, so I might leave the pondering to you, the reader. If you've got any thoughts on Sagat, or anything else Street Fighter, feel encouraged to drop a comment. Otherwise, stay tuned!

The Fight: 5.5 The Episode: 5.5

It can be surprising how often a fanbase can completely miss something as prominent as a thirty episode series. If you're among the uninitiated and are enjoying getting a sneaky look at "Street Fighter II V", stay tuned as it maintains a backbone to our Saturday Street Fights. Though as thorough as possible, note that our episode reviews leave plenty of gaps, so if you're looking for DVD set this Christmas, head over to Amazon and think about checking it out!

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