Fei Long may never appear in a Street Fighter game again because he too closely resembles Bruce Lee. That’s according to comments made by Street Fighter V composer Daniel Lindholm.
Lindholm is a composer-for-hire and has previously worked with Capcom to score its games. He has previously written music for Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and Street Fighter V.
In a recent YouTube Q&A, Lindholm was asked, of the Street Fighter characters he hasn’t yet written music for, which would he like to take a crack at? His answer was Fei Long, a loving homage to martial arts actor Bruce Lee. Lindholm went on to explain why he feels he won’t ever get the chance to write music for the character.
‘I have sources, not only Capcom, friends of mine in the US who are very close friends with the Lee family,’ says Lindholm. ‘They basically said any kind of resemblance to (Lee) is omitted (sic) for comedic effect, it needs to be honourable. And so, that’s why we won’t see Fei Long again, ever.’
The Lee Estate is famously protective of the late actor’s likeness and legacy. In 2015, the Lee Estate sued Pegasus Motion Pictures after it emerged the studio intended to create a CGI version of the actor that would appear in Ip Man 3. The estate reportedly ramped up its rules around Lee’s likeness after Quentin Tarantino portrayed the actor as an egotistical braggart in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It led to a public war of words between Tarantino and Lee’s daughter Shannon over comments that suggested Tarantino felt his portrayal was accurate.
There is an argument to be made that parody and homage are covered under fair use, but that doesn’t mean the Lee Estate can’t pursue legal action anyway.
This brings us back to Street Fighter and Fei Long. In the Street Fighter canon, Long is a movie star that enters the Street Fighter tournament as a way to test his skill and spruik his upcoming films. His design has changed over time, perhaps to keep the lawyers at bay, but his original incarnation was a clear recreation of Lee’s likeness. Though he could be considered a more serious homage to Lee, if Lindholm’s comments are accurate, then the character may never return to the series out of an abundance of caution. The last time Long appeared as a playable fighter was in Street Fighter IV. Though he appears in Street Fighter V, it is only as a background character in Rashid’s story sequences.
Bruce Lee is a popular inspiration in fighting games and Fei Long is but one example. The Tekken series features Marshall Law, who even more closely resembles Lee. Mortal Kombat‘s Liu Kang recreates and exaggerates some of Lee’s more spectacular moves. Soul Calibur‘s Maxi whips nunchucks around himself in a mirror of Lee’s signature style. Even Pokemon has Hitmonlee, one of two fighting type monsters that are clear references to martial arts movie legends (the other is Hitmonchan, just in case you somehow never got that joke).