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Chun-Li's name is Mandarin; chun 春 "spring", lì 麗 "beautiful", which means she is a young girl filled with the beauty of spring. She is the first female playable character to appear in a mainstream fighting game. Introduced in Street Fighter II, Chun-Li was the only female character in the game, and while not as physically powerful as the other characters, she was by far the quickest. Her most famous attack is the Hyakuretsukyaku (Hundred Rending Leg, commonly known as the Lightning Kick), where she repeatedly kicks her opponent from a tilted standing position with incredible speed.
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 that have placed a female character in the lead role.
Chun-Li was an Interpol investigator who had been searching for clues to the recent death of her father. During a friendly spar with an old teacher of hers and friend of her father, Gen, she received a clue as to who may have been behind her father's death—the mysterious crime syndicate Shadoloo. Chun-Li tracked down the syndicate's leader, M. Bison, and demanded that he tell her what happened to her father. Bison attacked and defeated her, then flew away laughing, telling her that if she attacked him again he would kill her just like he did her father. With tears in her eyes, Chun-Li swore vengeance.
After the events depicted in the Street Fighter Alpha series, Chun-Li received an invitation to the second World Warrior tournament, and discovered that Bison had apparently survived his Thailand base's destruction. With this, she had the clear motive of destroying Shadoloo and avenging her father once again. The outcome of this tournament is not clear, but there are strong hints that Chun-Li earned the right to face Bison and possibly won the tournament, though Guile has also been suspected to have been the victor. There has been no definitive answer as of yet, although regardless of the outcome, Bison himself finally falls at the hands of Ryu's nemesis, Akuma.
Chun-Li's grace and agility give her the ability to jump backwards into a wall, and quickly push herself off of it, reaching higher distances from the floor, giving her a certain aerial advantage over many opponents.
In conjunction with the aerial superiority that the Sankaku Tobi ability give her, Chun-Li can execute this attack by jumping into the air and pushing one leg down to the ground, literally stomping on her opponents as she lands. If she connects with this attack, she will bounce back up into the air where she can perform another attack, including an additional Yousou Kyaku.
With this move, Chun-Li raises her leg to kick her opponent, and then literally performs a backflip off of the opponents body. Once an automatic reaction to the proximity of her opponents, players gain the ability to perform this action on command in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
To perform this move, Chun-Li jumps high into the air with a forward flip, intended to come down and land on top of an opponent with her falling heel. As with the Kouhou Kaiten Kyaku, players gain better control over the use of this move in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
After years of training, Chun-Li has the ability to keep her balance on one foot while rapidly kicking into the air with the other. Chun-Li can kick so quickly, that the kicks appear as a giant blur of motion. While it can be used to keep ground opponents at bay, it is not very practical against airborne opponents.
Chun-Li will jump into a handstand before pushing off the ground with her hands, twisting them as she leaves the ground. This gives her body enough rotational momentum to spin over the ground with both legs extended outwards for a short distance like a helicopter. Opponents who are caught within the range of her feet are frequently hit multiple times before being knocked down.
Beginning in Street Fighter II Turbo, Chun-Li gains access to a much demanded projectile attack. Chun-Li summons all of her ki into her palms and pushes it outward with both with both hands, fingers lined up straight (as opposed to Ken and Ryu's curled fingers). Unlike the Hadouken, the Kikouken dissipates as it travels. The slower it travels, the longer it lasts. The motion needed to execute this move (as well as the animation associated with it) are changed in Super Street Fighter II.
Chun-Li gains an additional powerful attack in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Intended as an anti-air attack, Chun-Li squats down before pushing herself off the ground and rising with a series of alternating kicks, each one taking her higher into the air.
Chun-Li's super move is an advanced version of her signature move. After storing up a lot of energy, she can release it by propelling herself forward with one kick, followed by another kick, before launching into a high-powered version of the Hyakuretsu Kyaku. If an opponent is hit by any part of this attack, they are almost always sucked in by the rest of it.