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The Street Fighter
  |     review    |     quotable     |     dvd notes      |     availability     |      also see      |  
"I'm so angry that I shall crush my own hand!"

I could crush you like a grape: Sonny Chiba is The Street Fighter.
Japanese: Gekitotsu! Satsujin-ken
Year: 1974
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Waichi Yamada, Tony Cetera, Yutaka Nakajima
The Skinny: Forget that cheesy Van Damme flick, this Street Fighter is the real deal. If you want gut-wrenching, skull-smashing, blood-spurting violence of the highest degree, then this Sonny Chiba flick is for you. Sure, the blood looks like red paint, but the movie's still essential viewing for any true martial arts fan.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      Simply put, Terry Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) is one mean bastard. If you don't keep your promises, watch out. Tsurugi's the kind of guy who'd not only splatter your brains on the pavement for your betrayal, but also be more than happy to make out with your sister right before selling her into a life of prostitution. Really.
hat's part of the fun of 1974's The Street Fighter. Instead of some do-gooder in the vein of Jackie Chan or Jet Li, we get anti-hero Terry Tsurugi, a tough-as-nails, badass mercenary from Japan. After springing death row inmate Junjou from jail, Tsurugi does the aforementioned dirty deeds to the convicted killer's siblings when they break their promise to pay up. And for some reason, we kinda like Tsurugi for doing it. Though he remains a total ass through much of the film, Tsurugi is also revealed to be a man of some principles when he refuses to kidnap oil company heiress Sarai (Yutaka Nakajima) on behalf of the mob. This causes all sorts of problems for Tsurugi and his comic sidekick, Ratnose (Waichi Yamada). As you'd expect, Tsurugi has to save the girl from the mafia, as well as have an inevitable duel to the death with a very, very disgruntled Junjou.
     Sure, all that sounds pretty clichéd, but there are plenty of good reasons to see this film. For one, it's influential. Remember the x-ray "bone-breaking" sequences from Romeo Must Die? The Street Fighter did that trick first. Remember that movie Christian Slater watched at the theatre in True Romance? Yep, that's The Street Fighter. In fact, Quentin Tarantino's so crazy about it, he did some promotional stuff for the video re-release, even going as far to say, "I look forward to the day when I can put Sonny Chiba in a film of mine, but it's very important to me, so it has to be right." (By the way, that time has come. Sonny Chiba will star in Tarantino's next flick Kill Bill). So, maybe it's time to see what the fuss is about.
     This movie is ULTRA-VIOLENT. In fact, it was one of the first films given an X rating for violence in the U.S. Yes, the blood is a tad too red, but the brutality still makes you wince. People's eyes get poked, throats ripped out, and believe me, what Terry Tsurugi does to a rapist is worth the price of the DVD alone.
     But perhaps most importantly, The Street Fighter is unintentionally hilarious. The violence itself is pretty funny in a Wile E. Coyote sort of way, but Chiba's facial expressions mid-battle are an absolute hoot. He also seems to suffer from the worst asthma problems this side of Darth Vader, a habit which has been euphemistically called, "redistributing his chi." Furthermore, the dubbed version seems to be a tad confused about Asian crime, at one point having Tsurugi say, "I see, so you're with the Yakuza, a notorious Hong Kong assassination ring." Gee, I always thought the Yakuza were from Japan and the Triads were from Hong Kong. But I wouldn't dare tell Terry Tsurugi that. (Calvin McMillin, 2002)
Quotable: "You tell that bitch who sent you here how sorry I am that I can no longer be her friend!"
DVD Notes: The picture quality is surprisingly clear considering the DVD's cheap price. There's even a Japanese language track in addition to the competent English dub. However, the DVD Audio Set-up menu incorrectly refers to it as Chinese. Also, the Japanese voices do not sync with the mouth movements and there are no subtitles, so watching the film in its original language is a chore even for those who understand Japanese. There are some other extras on the DVD which seem out of place and irrelevant, but they do add to the "value" of such a budget priced disc.
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Brentwood Home Video
Japanese and English Language Tracks
No Subtitles
Also see: Return of the Street Fighter (1974)
The Street Fighter's Last Revenge (1974)
Sister Street Fighter (1974)
image courtesy of Brentwood Home Video Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen