of the Street Fighter
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Chiba, Claude Gannyon, Yoko Ichiji, Masashi Ishibashi, Masafumi
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.
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 withthe 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)
Street Fighter and Return of The Street Fighter
English Language Track
Sonny Chiba Biography, Film Information
Street Fighter (1974)
The Street Fighter's
Last Revenge (1974)
Sister Street Fighter (1974)
courtesy of Diamond Entertainment
Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen