Rumours of film and TV adaptations of the popular side scrolling Beat’em up Streets of Rage have swirled for years, but never came to fruition. It may be closer than ever to becoming a reality but for now let us entertain ourselves, and you of course, by playing casting director for one of my favourite games, and one of the best of all time.
Before we get into it this fan cast has been jumping around in my head for years. Now it would be too easy to choose an ideal money spinning cast, so despite this being complete fantasy I going to eschew some of the more famous candidates and look a little deeper into the pool of actors and actresses at our disposal…Or not.
Axel Stone – Alexander Skarsgård
Never have I changed my mind so many times casting a role before than for Axel Stone. But I’m satisfied with my final choice, I think. Alexander Skarsgård is a damn fine actor on the cusp of being huge. With True Blood behind him he is finally able to spread his wings and take on some new roles. The Legend of Tarzan was pretty much meh, but without him it would have been dire, and something like Streets of Rage could be right up his alley. Axel is one of the two ever present characters in the games franchise, and as a result the sort of leader of the group. A former cop and mixed martial artist seems to be the type of role that Skarsgård could lap up, and with his massive frame he not only looks like a leader, he looks damn fine. Axel is muscular, blonde and wears a tight white vest. Even if the look is straight out of the campy 90s action films, what good are all those muscles if you don’t flex them at every opportunity?
Just to provide context I’d considered and written pieces for Boyd Holbrook, Dan Stevens, Joel Kinnaman, Scott Eastwood, and the list goes on. For one reason or another I couldn’t settle on them.
Blaze Fielding – Gina Carano
Really I was spoilt for choice for Blaze and I was giving myself fits over who I could pick, but rather than go for existing pedigree with the likes of Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale or Scarlett Johansson, I’ve opted for somebody a little greener in the acting world. If you don’t already know Carano is one badass lady. A former MMA champion who already has a few films under her belt with the likes of Haywire, Fast and Furious 6 and Deadpool. It’s unfortunate she only has about 2 lines in the latter two films, because when the shit hits the fan she can throw down. Her acting in Haywire was rough around the edges, but was most certainly more refined in the straight to DVD In the Blood. With ample support from her cast she could easily contribute a lot, but without a shadow of a doubt beat everyone out in the action department. Have you seen that fight with Fassbender in the hotel room in Haywire? It’s ace. Anyway Blaze is a judo expert, and I’m pretty sure Carano could hip toss every other actress out there before they even blink.
Adam Hunter – Jamie Foxx
Adam Hunter to me came across as the older, more experienced member of the vigilantes trying to bring down Mr. X. It was probably because he has a younger brother in Streets of Rage 2 (who we’ll get on to shortly). So anyway I thought we’d go for an actor with a ton of experience who exudes cool on every level, and I bring to you Jamie Foxx. Now Mr. Foxx has had a heck of a diverse acting career thus far. From playing Ray Charles to Electro, with a dash of Django, he’s been around the block in a number of different guises and each one of them memorable. Not only could Jamie Foxx nail an experienced former cop unhappy with a corrupt system, he could easily steal the show as the powerful boxer and cop Adam Hunter.
For the record, I know Adam Hunter is about 24 yrs old in the games. But hey this is a fan cast and I’ll do what I want….Don’t hate me.
Max Thunder – John Cena
There is enough space in the film world for more than one professional wrestler turned actor, even if Dwayne Johnson seems hellbent on doing everything himself. The one man who seems to be turning a corner is Cena, and he could just well do with a bit of grit in his career too. Since a couple of hokey films such as 12 Rounds, and The Marine failed to ignite a film career like his forebears (We’re willing to forget Fred 1-3, if you are too John), Cena has plugged away and found a new leash of life with some comedy roles (Trainwreck, Sisters). Though the role of Max Thunder is by no means a humouress one, the blank canvas we have for these characters allows us to do what ever we want. The fact Thunder is a wrestler in the game gives us more than enough reason to cast Cena in a role that should feel like home. But lets give him a dark side because that is what his professional wrestling career has needed for so long. Not a heel turn, just some damn dark shit to deal with, and have him unleash hell. And really who else can boast voicing in Scooby Doo? That’s credentials son.
Eddie ‘Skate’ Hunter – John Boyega
Sure John Boyega starred in one of the highest grossing films of all time, but there is much more to come from him at such a young age. His role in Attack the Block could lend itself perfectly to the role of Skate, young, hardy, and full of fight. Admittedly I’d make Skate older than he is in the games because the idea of some kid beating up ruthless criminals is just a bit silly…. How about a professional roller skater who tackles crime… That isn’t as silly is it? Though Skate, the younger brother of Adam, doesn’t come into the series until Streets of Rage 2, there is absolutely no reason not to use him off the bat. As a young buck out to save his older brother with the help of his friends, he might not be in the limelight, but he’s the perfect support.
Shiva – Donnie Yen
Shiva is the bodyguard to Mr. X in Streets of Rage 2, and he is one tricky dude to fight. Therefore it only makes sense in a film version of the game to have one hell of a martial artist play him to make for some intense fight scenes, and I can think of nobody better than the scintillating Donnie Yen. Thanks to Rogue One he’ll be achieving world wide fame, but Yen has been around for years kicking ass left, right, and centre. Though the role of bodyguard sounds like a generic zero line role, I’d make it a bit meatier and have Shiva be a constant thorn in the side of our heroes, maybe even a separate crime boss. Either way, more Donnie Yen in the film world is what everybody needs.
Mr. X – Dwayne Johnson
Don’t get me wrong, I love Dwayne Johnson, but at some point in his acting career, he is going to have to turn heel and play the bad guy. It won’t hurt his career, if anything it’ll enhance it. If you play the villain well then the character can go down in infamy because everyone loves a baddie. Mr. X strikes me as an imposing character, able to beat the majority of people down in a scrap. Casting Johnson in this role would force our team of heroes to come together to take him down, because individually they’d get rock bottomed onto the other side of the planet. Even more tantalising than an epic royal rumble of a final fight, you could have a Johnson & Cena throw down in a film with better editing than your weekly episode of Raw. Tell me that thought didn’t give you a semi.
Dr. Zan Gilbert – Takeshi Kitano
Quite honestly I wouldn’t use the character in a film, but just for shits and giggles how amazing would it be if Takeshi Kitano played the cyborg who helps Axel, Blaze and Eddie in Streets of Rage 3? However we’ll stop short of casting Kangaroo Jack as Roo.
So there we have it, a fan cast for who I’d like to see in a Streets of Rage film. As I said earlier I could have taken the easy road and chosen the likes of Chris Evans for Axel, Will Smith for Adam, and Scarlett Johansson as Blaze. But that just feels like cheating, and you can’t cast them in every film can you?
How do you think I did? And who would you cast instead? Let me know in the comments! But for now excuse me whilst I dust off my Mega Drive controller.