display | more...

The Street Fighter (1974)


Also known as Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken and Enter the Street Fighter

Tagline: "If You've Got to Fight - Fight Dirty!"

Body Count: 23 assorted thugs killed.

Overview:

The Street Fighter was the film that introduced Sonny Chiba to the world and was also the first film to be rated X for violence alone. It was one of the first 70s exploitation movies to blend the hard- boiled action of yakuza films with traditional karate action. A delicious melding of the genres, its unique mix never comes across as a cheap gimmick. This movie may have spawned a trilogy and a host of imitators but it has aged like wine. Expect sweet action with just a hint of camp.

Chiba plays the part of Terry Tsurugi, a grim anti-hero who plays by his own rules. When he becomes embroiled in a nefarious plot to kidnap an oil heiress, he messily kills all those who get in the way of his personal agenda. His unique style lends itself to fight scenes that are less about finesse and more about raw, frantic action.

The excellent fight scenes make it clear why Sonny Chiba went on to become an action superstar. The action is fast and brutal, and has as much gore as a George Romero movie. Chiba turns teeth into chicklets and tears off numerous body parts with his bare hands. Some of the cooler fight scenes are still being copied by modern films. Think that part in Romeo Must Die where you see a X-Ray view of a man's skull being crushed is pretty cool? The Street Fighter did it before, better, and bloodier.

Main Characters:

  • Terry Tsurugi - A mysterious assassin who lives by his own twisted but noble moral code.
  • Ratnose - Terry's sidekick Ratnose is not afraid to help out in a tough situation, and not afraid to run away from danger if he thinks Terry can handle it. Wears a yarmulke, might be Jewish.
  • Junjoun - Out to kill Terry for revenge. Will do anything to defeat him.

The other assorted villains are admittedly not very original. All the standard Kung-Fu archetypes are there: Western Mafia guy, Zatoichi ripoff guy, the honorable assassin who refuses to cheat, and of course a scary rapist guy.

Plot:

The movie begins with Terry breaking Junjoun out of death row in sequence that is as campy as it is cool. Later, when Junjoun's brother and sister meet with Terry, a scuffle breaks out over payment. The brother takes a messy shortcut to the sidewalk via the window and Terry sells his sister into white slavery, leading to an encounter with scary rapist guy. Chiba really puts the "anti" in anti-hero.

Meanwhile, at the dojo, Sarai has returned to her uncle Masaoka only to find out that her father is dead and the yakuza are after her oil company.

At the same time, Mr. Mataguchi and Fire-Dragon lady try to hire Terry to kidnap Sarai. When he backs out of the deal, they put a hit out on him. Terry kicks the entire assassination squad's collective teeth in, so they decide to send for back up.

Afterwards, Terry decides to get back at the yakuza by protecting Sarai. His plan to gain the trust of Masaoka is to walk in the dojo's front door, beat up everyone inside to show how vulnerable she is, then offer his services. It works surprisingly well.

But just when it seems that she is safe in his care, trouble shows up in the form of several skilled assassins from Hong Kong, including one very pissed off Junjoun.

The rest of the movie flows together so well it would be a crime to ruin the last half. Some of its choicer bits involve a bare handed neutering of scary rapist guy and a sudden cheap shot tonsillectomy that ends the climatic final battle.

Conclusion:

Words can not do this movie justice. What with the cheesy dialog, the bloody fights, and the exploding eyeballs, this film made Sonny Chiba a god to fans of trash films. As a cult classic among Grindhouse film buffs it has enjoyed a wide release on a variety of formats and should be easy to find. Try to look for the unrated and uncut version, not the 73 minute cut R rated version put out by New Line Home video. Please, if you find any copy, do yourself a favor and watch it. Something this badass needs to be seen to be experienced and experienced to believe.

Quotes:

  • Ratnose: "Teeeerrrryyy... Terrrrryyyy"
  • Terry: "You'll be unconscious soon through lack of oxygen...It's an ancient technique"
  • Flashback VO: "Become a number one man"
  • Terry: "So I'm to die because I know who controls the Yakuza here...isn't that mean and nasty"
  • Random Mafia guy: "The inscrutable oriental better not screw up"

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.