Review by Monkey Fist
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Sonny Chiba shines as the anti-hero Tamuka Tsurugi, a hired assassin capable of taking out entire armies with his deadly fists. Sonny Chiba’s a killing machine here, truly ferocious and merciless. At the start of the film, he rescues a convicted criminal from the gallows. However, after his clients’ siblings are unable pay him, he kills the brother and sells the sister into prostitution! Yet Tamuka has his very own, unbreakable, moral code of honour. After his refusal to take part in the kidnapping of a beautiful young heiress (Yutaka Nakajima), members of the mob make an unsuccessful attempt on Tamuka’s life. The plot for “The Street Fighter” isn’t the most in-depth stuff you’ll come across, but the stylish ultra-violent action, together with Tamuka’s attitude and presence make this a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in Japanese Exploitation cinema. On the whole, “The Street Fighter” is one brutal flick, even by Japanese 70s exploitation standards.
There are some nice camera angles and the fight scenes are almost as unbelievable in their choreography as the greatest scenes by Bruce Lee, which has been touted to be the Chinese equivalent of Chiba. The fights are very graphic and exploitative as people get stabbed, punched, kicked, torn and so on. What seperates “The Street Fighter” from the other martial art films of that time, is its high level of blood and gore. Perhaps one of the most famous detail in “The Street Fighter” is the X-Ray close up of a man who had his head smashed in by Chiba! That detail is pretty interesting and it’s also featured in Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, another whacky over-the-top martial arts mayhem film from Hong Kong back in 1990.
The cast includes several familiar faces for Japanese Exploitation fans, such as Fumio Watanbe, who is probably best known for playing the sadistic Warden in the first two instalments of “Female Prisoner Scorpion” films starring Meiko Kaji in 1972. Goichi Yamada is fun as Tamuka’s sidekick and Masahi Ishibashi’s great as his nemesis Shikenbaru, an equally skilled killer. Chiba himself, of course, outshines everyone else in the role as one of the most cunning and deadliest anti-heroes in motion picture history. ALL HAIL SONNY CHIBA!!