An undercover Interpol agent, Chun-Li enters Street Fighter II 's fighting tournament as a way of getting to its founder, M. Bison. She seeks to avenge her father, who was murdered while investigating Bison's crime syndicate, Shadaloo. Her signature move is the Hyakuretsukyaku (百裂脚, Hundred Rending Leg, commonly known as the Lightning Kick), which involves repeatedly kicking her opponent from a tilted standing position. Chun-Li is notable for being the first female to appear in a single-player fighting game, and has acquired the nickname "First Lady of Fighting Games" among enthusiasts. She is ranked fourth on Gamefly's list of Hottest Chicks Ever.
Chun-Li made her debut in the original version of Street Fighter II as one of the game's eight playable characters and the sole female character in the game (before the addition of later characters such as Cammy, Rose and Sakura). Chun-Li's backstory centers around her quest to avenge her father's death, an undercover police agent who disappeared while investigating M. Bison's organization. In her ending, she fulfills her revenge and decides to return to her life as an ordinary girl. In Super Street Fighter II, the player is given the option to make Chun-Li return to ordinary life or continue her work as a police officer.
Chun-Li is brought back in Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams, which is set prior to the events of the Street Fighter II. Chun-Li is depicted as an undercover ICPO agent who is after M. Bison and his drug cartel. Chun-Li is dressed in a Chinese acrobatic outfit in the original, although the two sequels produced afterwards: Alpha 2 and Alpha 3, features Chun-Li's original outfit as an alternate version of the character.
She appears as a playable character in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, the third iteration of the Street Fighter III as one of five added characters, making her one of the few Street Fighter characters to appear in all major sub-series. Set years after the Street Fighter II, Chun-Li has retired from street fighting to teach martial arts to young children, but is forced to return to law enforcement after one of her students is abducted by Urien.
Chun-Li is set to appear in the upcoming Street Fighter IV as one of the returning World Warriors in the game with her brand new Ultra Move, Housenka (鳳扇華).
Chun-Li has made appearances in several other Capcom-produced fighting games including all of the Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK crossovers. She also appears in the puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and its sequel, Pocket Fighter. She is also a playable character in the upcoming Tatsunoko vs. Capcom game, representing her debut game Street Fighter II. She also makes a cameo in Mega Man 9 as a news reporter while Mega Man and Dr.Light were watching the news.
In the Street Fighter Alpha games (set during the time period before Street Fighter II), Chun-Li wears an embroidered vest, a unitard, and athletic shoes. She wears her ox horns unadorned. She also wears her original Street Fighter II outfit as an alternate version of her character.
Chun-Li is known for her speed and aerial attacks. Her signature move is the Hyakuretsu Kyaku, a flurry of vicious kicks which are performed while standing on one leg. Its easy accessibility (bluntly pressing a kick button over and over again) has become a staple in many games. For her Spinning Bird Kick, Chun-li spins through the air while kicking in a propeller motion. Chun-Li can also leap off nearby walls; while performing a wall jump, she is able to backflip and stomp on her opponent's head.
In October 2006, Hyde Park Entertainment and Capcom announced its intention to produce another film adaptation with the storyline to focus on Chun-Li called Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. This film will be more character-centered and story-based rather than following a "nebulous plot." Also, apparently it won't be just a Street Fighter movie with Chun-Li as the main character, along the lines of Guile in the first one, but it will be an actual Chun-Li film. Screenwriter Justin Marks was attached to write a script for the adaptation. Street Fighter is set for a February 2009 release for the 20th anniversary of the fighting game series. The film adaptation is part of Capcom's multi-platform launch for 2008 that will also launch video games and a potential TV series in 2008. It's been recently confirmed on Comingsoon.com that Smallville actress, Kristin Kreuk will be playing Chun Li in the 2009 adaptation.
In a famous instance of fan service, an explicit scene shows Chun-Li showering in her apartment as a Shadolaw assassin, Vega, arrives to kill her. The shower scene has been censored to varying degrees in versions of the English dub. Although she manages to drive Vega off — kicking him through a wall and sending him hurtling several stories to the ground — Chun-Li succumbs to her injuries and slips into a coma; she remains hospitalized for the rest of the movie. A distraught Guile promises her that he will make M. Bison pay. Following Bison's defeat at the hands of Ryu and Ken, Chun-Li pulls a prank on Guile by making it appear as if she has died while he was away. As Guile grieves beside her empty bed, she surprises him with a newspaper headline announcing the downfall of Bison's operations.
In the 29-episode anime series, Chun-Li appears as the spirited tour guide to Ken and Ryu. Her character in this adaption is a far cry from The world's strongest woman, since she's mostly a Kung-Fu student under the guidance of her father, the highest-ranked police chief in Hong Kong. Chun-Li plays a sizeable role in the finale when she is brainwashed by Bison's psycho power.
Much like the anime SF II movie, the story stands alone from the established canon. Chun-Li's hero worship of Ryu was later used for the character of Sakura in the Alpha games.
In the anime and manga based on Street Fighter Alpha, Chun-Li is again an agent of interpol as she is in almost all iterations save for the live action film. In the anime, she begins tracking down Ryu because of his battle with Sagat and Shadaloo's apparent interest in Ryu. Believing this information will in some way lead to further dismantling of Shadaloo, she seeks out Ryu and becomes involved in his struggle to defeat the temptation of the Dark Hadou.
In the manga, she encounters Ryu, who has fallen from grace when he began to give in to the Dark Hadou, and had hired himself out as a bodyguard to some drug smugglers. She winds up befriending Ryu and Birdie as well as Ken (which also happens in the anime), and Chun-Li, Ken, and Ryu begin trying to deal with the Dark Hadou, though Chun Li plays mostly a minor role in that regard. However, the three friends encounter members of Shadaloo, and Chun-Li, at the end of the first volume of the manga, rescues Cammy from being captured (or possibly killed, the manga doesn't say which, only that losers are 'stored' somewhere) after having her hand apparently crushed or at the least injured in some way by Sodom. Shadaloo in the manga is once again responsible for the death of her father, though the exact identity of the killer has yet to be revealed.
When Udon comics picked up the comic book license for the Street Fighter franchise for American distribution, Chun-Li again became a central character, involved in the hunt for Bison and Shadaloo. However, in the new comic, it is not Bison or Vega who is the killer of Chun-Li's father, but rather Cammy, prior to her being freed from Bison's control. Chun-Li battles Cammy when they meet face to face for the first time. Chun-Li ultimately forgives Cammy for her actions, due to the fact that she was brainwashed to serve Bison at that time. As a result, Chun-Li turns her sights on Bison himself.
Chun-Li's mode of dress changes several times throughout the Udon comics, from the outfits worn in Street Fighter Alpha, to her more traditional qipao from the Street Fighter II games. She has received an invitation from Shadaloo to enter a tournament being held by Bison. The comic appears to be mixing elements of the various games together. The story is currently ongoing, though Udon has yet to release the next volume of the series.
Chun-Li also apears in a comic from Club Ninendo. She is Mario's second opponent in Club Nintendo's comic "Super Mario Klemp-Won-Do: Muskeln sind nicht alles!". As Mario progresses to become Street Fighter II grand master, he meets his challenger, Chun-Li, and immediately falls in love with her. Unknowing she is her next challenger, Mario expects a "victory kiss" from her in result of his last fight with Zangief, but is surprised when she suddenly starts kicking him. With this, Mario is given the idea of tickling her feet with a feather. Chun-Li uncontrollably laughs and is unable to battle, leading to her loss and Mario's victory.
Chun-Li was also one of the fighters that laughed at Mario before the tournament started.
There is a fight scene in the Shrek 2 movie where princess Fiona performs Chun-Li's Spinning Kick against her opponents. She also performs a Shoryuken, a special move of the Ken, Ryu and Akuma characters.