Spoilers here, obviously.
So there’s a scene in Solo where Emelia Clark, playing Han’s former flame Qi’ra, shows she’s a lot more dangerous than first thought by handing out a brutal beatdown to a bad guy.
That eventually happens a lot in the movie, so whatever, but it’s memorable the first time she does it because she feels the need to explain how she managed it, saying it’s because in the years between her and Han’s separation (the pair were childhood sweethearts, separated by the Empire) she’s been taught the art of Teräs Käsi.
It’s an easy line to throw away, but anyone who suffered through late-90s Lucasarts will remember the term as something more than just fancy-name filler in a 2018 movie.
The line is actually a reference to a martial art made “famous” by the 1997 video game Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, considered by many to the absolute low-point of Lucasarts’ Star Wars output, which when you consider that roster also includes Force Commander is saying something.
Teräs Käsi—actually introduced by author Steve Perry in 1996's Shadows of the Empire, and named for the Finnish words for “steel” and “hands”—was a 3D fighting game with almost no redeeming qualities. I wrote about the game back in 2012:
As a fighter, it was terrible in that it was slow, clunky and unfairly balanced towards characters with lightsabers. As a Star Wars experience, it was even worse. Breaking canon in this universe isn’t a sin in itself—and can even be a blessing when done properly—but man, it was extra stupid here.
I still think it’s biggest problem was that it tried to copy the 3D style of games like Tekken, when Lucasarts’ internal team of 2D artists could have done a much better-looking job with a fighting game.
Anyway, of all the '90s expanded universe things for a 2018 Star Wars movie to mention, Teräs Käsi was certainly one of the more unexpected. Maybe it’s the start of a trend, and the Boba Fett movie will kick off at the Sluis Van shipyards...