Chun Li (春麗, also チュン・リー Chun Rī?, simplified Chinese: 春丽; traditional Chinese: 春麗; pinyin: Chūn Lì) is a fictional character in the Street Fighter series. The first female fighter of the series, she made her first appearance in 1991’s Street Fighter II. In the series, she is an expert martial artist and Interpol officer who restlessly seeks revenge for the death of her father at the hands of the nefarious M. Bison, leader of the Shadaloo crime syndicate.
Since her debut, Chun-Li has become a mainstay of the franchise and one of its most popular figures, appearing in nearly all subsequent installments of the series and several Capcom spinoff games, in addition to featuring prominently in Street Fighter-related media such as two feature films, multiple anime and comic book productions, and other official series merchandise. Chun Li has earned much positive fan and critical reception for factors such as her backstory, athleticism, sex appeal, and in-game playability, in addition to being considered a trailblazer for female characters in fighting titles and in general video gaming.
Chun Li is presented as a woman with a strong sense of justice, and her motives for fighting crime range from avenging the death of her father (her desire to do so by revenge was the reason why she lost to a perfect victory in SFA2) to protecting innocents (she had finally learned to accept and deal with her losses). She especially cares for kids, showing repulse for the use of brainwashed young girls in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and the kidnap of a girl in Street Fighter III: Third Strike. In the latter game, Chun Li decides she will teach her fighting style and philosophy to kids. Chun Li is an expert martial arts practitioner. She started training in several styles of Chinese kempo (“Chinese martial arts”) at the age of 5, especially tai chi chuan, which she would later complement with sanda (combat wushu) and fighting styles from all around the world, such as taekwondo, Full contact karate, Judo and capoeira. Related to her police job, she is also a very skilled firearm user, her game profiles stating that she has at least once achieved a sixth place in an international shooting competition. Chun Li has also been noted in-universe for her fluent English, investigating skills, penetrating eyes, beauty and acting talent for deception.
Chun Li was introduced in 1991 in the original Street Fighter II as the franchise’s first playable female character, an undercover Interpol agent seeking to avenge the death of her father at the hands of M. Bison and his criminal organization. Upon Bison’s defeat,Chun Li fulfills her revenge and decides to return to her life as an ordinary girl; Super Street Fighter II allows players to choose this ending or another in which she remains a police officer. The Street Fighter Alpha prequel series built upon her backstory, while Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike shows her retired and teaching martial arts to young children, only to be forced to return to law enforcement after one of her students is abducted by Urien. Chun-Li returns in Street Fighter IV, where her in-game narrative shows her at crossroads in her life, eventually returning to both street fighting and law enforcement. In Street Fighter EX, a non-canonical spinoff series produced by Street Fighter II creator Akira Nishitani, Chun-Li is a police officer investigating Shadaloo in search of her missing father.
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