Chun-Li's name is Mandarin; chun 春 "spring", lì 麗 "beautiful", which means she is a single young woman filled with the beauty of spring.
Older official sources from the early 90s indicate Chung was Chun-Li's surname, although it is worth noting this could very well not be the case anymore. In the live-action Street Fighter movie, Chun-Li was given the surname Zang/Xiang, but Capcom has not officially recognized it.
Chun-Li was an Interpol investigator who had been searching for clues to the recent death of her father. Getting into a friendly spar with an old teacher and friend of her father's, Gen, he gives her a lead into who may have killed her father: the mysterious crime syndicate Shadaloo. Finding its leader, M. Bison, she demands he tell her what happened to her father. To her surprise, Bison attacks and makes quick work of her, then flies away, telling her that if she attacks him or comes after him again he will kill her just like her father. With tears in her eyes, Chun-Li swore vengeance. After her defeat, she soon realizes that the man whom she has a strong admiration for has defeated Bison. Her admiration for Ryu has inspired her to become stronger for when she faces off with Bison or any of her strong adversaries.
In the Street Fighter Alpha series, Chun-Li teamed up with a US Air Force member, Charlie, to try to track and take down Shadaloo. She then ran into someone she would not have expected at all. It was Charlie's good friend and fellow lieutenant, Guile. Telling Guile he should not get in over his head and to leave the two be, Chun-Li learns he has orders to bring Charlie back. Attempting to use force to stop him, Guile immediately appears and holds her in his arms telling her that she can't force Charlie to not make what is right and for good intentions; nonetheless, she insists that she and her partner be left alone, to which Guile replies that he will never abandon friends in need. Eventually learning that Bison tricked the Air Force into cancelling the planned bombing of the main Shadaloo base, she rushed over to the two soldiers to tell them they were tricked and would have to destroy the base on their own. Chun-Li proceeded to plant bombs about the base as Charlie and Guile headed inside to destroy the Psycho Drive, but Guile then came rushing out, grabbing Chun-Li and telling her Charlie had urged both of them to get away. Along the way, Chun-Li saw a young girl escaping with several others (who turned out to be Cammy leading the Dolls away from the base). Despite being distraught over the initial lack of evidence to prove Shadaloo's crimes, Interpol and Chun-Li managed to shut down much of the evil crime empire.
In the Street Fighter II series, Chun-Li received an invitation to the second World Warrior tournament, and discovered that Bison had apparently survived the Thailand base's destruction. With this, she had the clear motive of destroying Shadaloo and avenging her father once again. The outcome of this tournament is not clear. There has been no definitive answer as of yet, although regardless of the outcome, Bison himself finally is defeated at the hands of Ryu's nemesis and Gouken's brother, Akuma.
In the Street Fighter IV series, Chun-Li retires and finds life less than what she had hoped for, still feeling uneasiness. Soon she is tracked down by Guile, who reveals to her evidence of Shadaloo's return. Donning her outfit, she returns to Interpol and teams up with Guile and Cammy to take down S.I.N. and discover what really happened to M.Bison. On her way, she is approached by Abel, who is searching for any leads on the Shadaloo organization. During the tournament, she also pursues Gen, who is also participating, for more answers about her father's death. Infiltrating the S.I.N. dam facility, she is trapped when Vega activates the base's self-destruct sequence. She is protected from the ensuing collapse by Gen, and is eventually rescued by Guile and Abel and destroy the S.I N base. After going back to China, she tells Guile that she is not just fighting for her father but also for herself, and that she will continue to be an officer.
In Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, Chun-Li continued her work as a police officer, and retired from mainstream street fighting to teach young children martial arts after taking down Shadaloo for good. Urien kidnapped a young girl for his scientific projects and Chun-Li manages to catch up to him. Challenging him, she defeats him and reclaims the young girl. Since then, Chun-Li has continued to raise her adopted kids.
Chun-Li is generally a cheerful woman, often showing happiness and excitiness when she wins a fight, mainly with her friends. But as part of Interpol, she takes her job very seriously and will try her best to complete a mission, but sometimes gets overworked and easily exhausted. When it comes to fighting, Chun-Li tends to get quite competitive with other female fighters, but after her fights with a few of them she becomes allies with them and possibly even friends. She also wants to become stronger due to experience in fighting her enemy M. Bison. She also has a strong admiration for Ryu and is currently eager to challenge him to improve her skills (and possibly impress him). Overall, Chun-Li is cheerful, resourceful, dedicated and while in fighting, serious, and never takes kindly to losing.
Chun-Li's appearance has differed several times in the Street Fighter series, as well as in official art and cameos she has made in other works. She is known for her very muscular thighs. She is 5 feet 6 1/2 inches, according to her Street Fighter Alpha 3 profile.
Chun-Li wears the qipao, a Chinese dress imported over from Manchuria, yet popular among girls during the early 20th century. Her outfit is modified to allow a far wider range of movement than a normal qipao. She also wears white combat boots and blue leotard with dark brown sheer pantyhose with her qipao. Her qipao is blue with golden accents. She was originally supposed to wear a peach-colored qipao, as seen in her in-game profile and ending in the original Street Fighter II.
During the period covered in Street Fighter Alpha, she wore an embroidered vest, unitard and athletic shoes, as well as studded wristbands. It is unclear why she chose to stop using this outfit and switch to the qipao in subsequent Street Fighter games. With the switch to the qipao, she also swapped her wristbands for large spiked bracelets. In Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation movie, her vest has changed to red instead of blue.
In Street Fighter IV, Chun Li's alternate outfit consists of a black sleeveless night gown with gold accents at the bottom. She wears a black and gold sash held by a red rope-like belt. The outfit is completed with red shoes, gold earrings and black and gold bracelets. The outfit resembles the clothes she wore in one of the episodes of the American cartoon series Street Fighter.
In various official art, she has also been shown in her police outfit, as well as (presumably) her favorite casual attire: a varsity-style jacket, T-shirt, jeans and white tennis shoes. It has been shown in some official art that when wearing her casual attire she also wears her Alpha wristbands.
Her hairstyle is called "ox horns", a typical style in which Chinese children dress their hair; depictions of girls in Chinese paintings frequently show girls in ox horns.
During the Alpha series, she chose to wear them unadorned, while in the remaining games, she uses silk brocades and ribbons to cover them, colored white to signify the mourning of her father. These silk brocades and ribbons that cover them are sometimes called bao.
In Street Fighter IV, in her alternate outfit, she wears her ox horns unadorned, just like in her Alpha appearance, only this time held by red ropes with golden balls at the tip.
Chun-Li is the original fast character in the Street Fighter series, utilizing multiple rapid attacks rather than the slow damaging strikes of larger characters like Zangief. Her agile and swift movements are a favorite amongst game-players. It is interesting to note that in the early days of arcade fighting games, many other female characters played in a similarly speedy style, following the example set by Chun-Li. In previous games (Street Fighter II mainly) she was basically a charge character along with Guile and E.Honda but her style was changed in later games to give her a more technical feel as well as her trademark "speed" granted to the player.
In almost every game, Chun-Li's signature move is the "Hyakuretsu Kyaku" which was her ability to throw multiple kicks in one sitting. It is referred to as the Lightning Kick. Its easy accessibility (bluntly pressing a kick button rapidly) has become a staple in many games. Her Spinning Bird Kick acts like Ryu's and Ken's own "Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku". Chun-Li can also wall-jump, meaning that pressing in the opposite direction after touching the wall during a jump will allow her to bounce off of it. While jumping, she can perform a Stomp Kick on top of her opponent's heads. Beginning with Street Fighter Alpha, this move was replaced by the "Sen'en Shuu", which was an overhead drop kick which knocked the opponent down. This, in itself, was replaced by the "Hazan Shuu" in Street Fighter III, which was a similar move where Chun-Li flipped in the air before attacking with her overhead kick. She also regained her Spinning Bird Kick in that game.
Her "Kaku Kyaku Raku" was basically a move where she flips in the air and drop kicks her opponents on the head, causing them to fall down. This was replaced in Street Fighter III with the "Tenshin Shuu Kyaku" which requires her to jump all the way behind the opponent to attack, but also lets her combo afterward. Her trademark projectile is called the "Kikoken", and has alternately been a motion attack and a charge attack depending on the game. Her "Tenshou Kyaku" enabled her to jump in the air and perform 3-4 consecutive kicks that can damage air born opponents.
Other notable moves that have appeared include the "Sou Hakkei", a powerful palm strike that Chun-Li can do in her X-ISM mode in Street Fighter Alpha 3; the "Reishiki Kikou Ken", a toned-down version of the "Kikou Shou" as it appeared in the Alpha games that Chun-Li can do at any time in the Marvel vs. Capcom series; and the "Tenshin Enbu" in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, a command grab similar to Yun's "Zenpou Tenshin" that does no damage, but leaves the opponent open to a combo.
Chun-Li's first Super Attack, the "Senretsu Kyaku", was an extended "Hyakuretsu Kyaku" that moved Chun-Li forward and could go through fireballs. Her "Kikou Shou", which she received in Street Fighter Alpha, was a stationary ball of energy that could hit attacks coming from above and in front. Her "Hazan Tenshou Kyaku" was a powered-up version of the "Tenshou Kyaku". These moves received typical power increases in the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
Her appearance in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike saw her retain only one Super Art from before, the "Kikosho", in a version that more resembled the Marvel version than the original Alpha version. Her two new Super Arts were the "Hoyoku Sen", a re-imagined "Senretsu Kyaku" that was made up of two flurries of rapid kicks followed by a final kick that sent the opponent upward; and the "Tensei Ranka", an aerial flip-kick that ended with a final kick crashing straight downward.
In Street Fighter IV, Chun-Li gains a new Ultra Combo called "Hosenka". It is very much like "Hoyosu Ken", except instead of kicking the opponent away after the "Hyakuretsu Kyaku", she kicks the opponent upwards and does a powered-up Spinning Bird Kick, which causes a tornado and does significant damage. She then kicks the opponent up into the air with a lot of force, landing gracefully after the opponent falls back on to the floor.
In the latest version of Street Fighter IV (Super Street Fighter IV), one can select an Ultra Combo among "Hosenka" and "Kikosho". The "Kikosho" animation is nearly identical to what is depicted in Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
When UDON comics picked up the comic book license for the Street Fighter franchise for American distribution, Chun-Li became a central character, involved in the hunt for Bison and Shadaloo. However, in the comic, it is Cammy who is the killer of Chun-Li's father, prior to her being freed from Bison's control. After a battle between the two women, Chun-Li winds up forgiving Cammy for her actions due to the fact that she was brainwashed and being controled under Bison's power at that time, she wasn't really responsible for the murder of Chun-Li's father, it was still Bison since he was controlling her to kill him.
In Popular Culture
Chun-Li is one of the earliest female video game protagonists to achieve widespread popularity. Prior to Street Fighter II being released in 1991, most female characters in games existed as objectives to be rescued or cast in the roles of other supporting characters, such as townspeople, girlfriends, the occasional opponent, or simply background decoration; as such, there were very few heroines in action-based video games. After the success of Street Fighter II and Chun-Li's popularity, female protagonists became increasingly common. Since then, in games with selectable characters, at least one of them will almost always be female; and a number of games released since then have placed a female character in the lead role.
- Chun-Li's likeness appears in the game We Love Golf! as an unlockable cosplay outfit for Lisa.
- Chun-Li makes a cameo in the manga Faeries Landing and in the U.S. cartoon Jackie Chan Adventures.
- Chun-Li makes a cameo in Final Fight 2, where she can be found eating ramen in the first stage.
- She also has a cameo appearance in Breath of Fire, where you can see her practicing her lightning kicks in the thief's house in the town of Bleak if you ask him to perform a magic trick and respond to his questions correctly.
- She also makes a cameo in Mega Man 9 as a television news reporter during a scene where Mega Man and Dr. Light were watching a breaking-news report.
- In 2008, Sackboy skins for Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile and Zangief were released as downloadable content in LittleBigPlanet.
- Chun-Li and Ryu are the only Street Fighter characters that appear in every Capcom Versus game.
- She is found in almost any Capcom fighting game, one exception was the first Street Fighter III and its first revision, 2nd Impact, until she was finally added to the third and last revision Street Fighter III 3rd Strike.
- She also appears in the Pachislot game Chun-Li Ni Makase China!, the first game produced by Capcom that features Chun-Li in the starring role.
- She also appears in the true ending of Asura's Wrath in a police uniform chasing after one of the main villains' reincarnations.
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
- X-Men vs. Street Fighter
- Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes
- Super Gem Fighter: Mini Mix
- Street Fighter EX
- Capcom vs. SNK
- Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
- Capcom vs. SNK 2
- Capcom Fighting All Stars - (canceled)
- Capcom Fighting Evolution
- Namco x Capcom
- SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos
- Street Fighter Online: Mouse Generation
- Street Fighter IV
- Super Street Fighter IV
- Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
- Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
- Street Fighter X Tekken
- Project X Zone
- Project X Zone 2
- Street Fighter V
- Saturday Night Slam Masters - (cameo)
- Breath of Fire - (cameo)
- Final Fight 2 - (cameo)
- Mega Man 9 - (cameo)
- Asura's Wrath - (cameo)
For more images of this character, see their Gallery.