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  Return of the Street Fighter  
  |     review    |     availability     |     also see      |
Sonny Chiba
  Japanese: Satsujin-ken 2  
  Year: 1974  
  Director: Shigehiro Ozawa  
  Cast: Sonny Chiba, Claude Gannyon, Yoko Ichiji, Masashi Ishibashi, Masafumi Suzuki
The Skinny: Amusing follow-up to the previous year's Street Fighter. Thin on plot, but long on sick comic action, Return of the Street Fighter is a definite guilty pleasure.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      Sonny Chiba is back as Terry Tsurugi, and this time it's personal! Okay, it's always personal in these types of films, but believe me, when this guy's out for vengeance, he doesn't screw around. Like its predecessor, Return of the Street Fighter is ultra-violent: eyes are gouged, heads are smashed, and in the most disgustingly comical scene in the entire picture, Tsurugi hits a guy so hard that the dude's eyes pop out! It may be sick fun, but it's good fun all the same.
     As the second chapter in the always-entertaining Street Fighter series, Return of the Street Fighter ranks as one of the rare sequels that actually rivals the first. However, in the beginning the movie doesn't seem quite as promising. For starters, the plot is basically the same as the original, as Tsurugi is again working for the mob, but later he refuses to accept a hit contract because it violates his personal code of honor. Tsurugi balks at killing his friend Masaoko (Masafumi Suzuki, reprising his role from the original), much to the dismay of the mafia, led by the ridiculously named Don Costello (Claude Gannyon). As is usual in martial arts flicks, violence ensues. Add to this familiarity a heavy reliance on flashbacks and one too many "let's pad this movie with dojo training" sequences, and you've got a sequel that's seemingly doomed from the get-go.
     But surprisingly, the movie succeeds in carving out its own niche. What sets this film apart from the original are the little variations given to the formula. For a straight genre piece, Return of the Street Fighter actually sports a few surprises. The true identity of Don Costello, the rich, white man behind everything is pretty amusing, as is new character Kitty (Yoko Ichiji), Tsurugi's jive-talking female sidekick who may be more than she seems. There's even the shocking return of a presumed dead character from the first film, whose reappearance will elicit cheers at the onset and laughter as the scene progresses.
     Perhaps the best improvement is Tsurugi himself. In this movie, he's thoroughly likable, but is by no means a nice guy. Perhaps in response to the tragic events of the previous film, Terry Tsurugi has mellowed a little; he's not a total prick (no selling women into prostitution anymore), but he's still a definite force to be reckoned with—the celluloid embodiment of the term "anti-hero." It's also worth noting that Tsurugi's heavy breathing habit from the first film has been cut down considerably. I guess all that chi was finally redistributed.
     Guilty pleasure is probably the best way to describe Return of the Street Fighter. It's a movie that succeeds in spite of itself, that elicits applause and chuckles in places where a lesser exploitation movie would induce groans and the rolling of eyes. For example, in a scene late in the film, we find Terry Tsurugi battered and bruised, left for dead by his Mafia enemies. After being nursed back to health by the faithful Kitty, Tsurugi flashes back to his father's untimely death. As his dad's "Trust No One!" coda begins reverberating in Tsurugi's mind, we hear the funky Street Fighter theme music start pumping in the background. Tsurugi rises once more, ready to kick some serious ass. And despite the sheer cheesiness of this entire sequence, you can't help but get psyched right along with him. But such is the power of cinema…and Sonny Chiba! (Calvin McMillin, 2002)

Diamond Entertainment
Street Fighter and Return of The Street Fighter Double-Length Disc
English Language Track
Sonny Chiba Biography, Film Information

Also see: The Street Fighter (1974)
The Street Fighter's Last Revenge (1974)
Sister Street Fighter (1974)
image courtesy of Diamond Entertainment
 Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen