Blu-ray Review: The Street Fighter Collection (1974)

March 17, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

In the early to mid 1970’s Sonny Chiba kicked so many asses that there was a serious concern that their would be no more asses to kick going forward. These are the chronicles of those events…or a collection of three of his most legendary films, all falling under the Street Fighter banner on Blu-ray from Shout! Select…either/or…

Let’s kick things off with:

The Street Fighter (1974): Terry Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) is one hard-ass mother fucker. Take this for an example: our hero frees a condemned man from prison by performing his “oxygen coma punch” causing him to collapse just before he can be executed, and as he is spirited to the hospital, Terry attacks the ambulance and frees him. Small problem there; the convict’s family can’t pay Terry’s fee so he goes to beat the shit out of the family which results in one fresh corpse, and a woman sold into sexual slavery courtesy of local crime boss Renzo Mutaguchi (Fumio Watanabe).

Things get further out of hand when Mutaguchi hires Terry to kidnap Sarai (Yutaka Nakajima), the daughter of an extinct oil tycoon…but Terry ends up earning the respect of Sarai’s uncle Kendō Masaoka (Masafumi Suzuki), a karate master Terry fights to a stand still, and he ends up the girl’s protector instead…so now the mob is pissed, as is that convict mentioned earlier…and soon everyone is out for Terry’s blood!

Filled with violence, revenge, and one of the singular most bad-ass “heroes” to ever grace the silver screen…well those that used to hang on 42nd street anyway…The Street Fighter is a martial arts film on a different level from the Enter the Dragon clones dominating the genre at the time. Gone is the virtuous avenger defending the weak; instead we get a violence crazed mercenary ready to explode like a ticking time-bomb…and the fighting on display is brutal and vicious with little of the showy bravado popular at the time. Bottom line this flick must have seemed like a breath of fresh air in ’74, and it still remains that way today.

Along with the film we get interviews with Chiba, Director Jack Sholder…who fans of this column will recognize as the director of such genre favs as A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and The Hidden…and who edited the U.S. trailer for the film (and provides a wealth of information on how the film was marketed and dubbed), the U.S. and Japanese theatrical trailers, and a stills gallery.

Flying our way next is:

Return of the Street Fighter (1974): Terry’s back baby, and so is his penchant for off-the-charts violence! This time our hero sets out to whip some Yakuza ass as they have been funneling phony charity donations into their own pockets. I mean, Terry HAS to be mad at something, it’s his way, so I guess embezzlement is as good a reason as say getting pickles on his hamburger when he said he didn’t want them, or the color puce…it’ll all lead to explosive beatings to anyone within 5 feet of the dude if his ire is up. So anyway, the mafia isn’t happy about Terry’s interference and soon someone is trying to off him every five minutes or so.

The first thing you’ll no doubt notice about Return of the Street Fighter is that the ultra-violence has been dialed back considerably. Sure there’s karate skirmishes and such (and some really spectacular ones at that including a battle atop a beautiful snow covered mountain, an out-of-control battle in a spa as the main stand-outs) but the brutality is lessened somewhat (I mean he still punches a man’s eyes completely out of his skull and all, so not that lessened…there’s just less of it present, ya dig?). It’s not a deal breaker as the film is still very entertaining, but that nastiness really helped define the character of Terry Tsurugi and made him stand apart from other martial arts heroes of the day. There’s also usage of run time padding flashbacks to the first film, as well as demonstrations of martial arts techniques…mainly in the first thirty minutes of the film in which Chiba barely makes an appearance.

Also deserving a mention is Terry’s sidekick in this film; Pin Boke (Yôko Ichiji)…or Kitty depending on your language choice on the Blu…this woman’s attire and groovy-speak are so ludicrous it’ll have you rolling in the aisles…or at least your living room, as well as the shocking, but fun as hell, resurrection of a character that by rights should be 100% six feet under back for more punishment and/or vengeance.

Bonus features on this disc are light with only three trailers for the film and a stills gallery present.

The final blow comes in the form of:

The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge (1974): Terry’s back…and like you’ve never seen him before…but more on that in a bit.

After taking a phone call, in which he holds the receiver a good country mile away from his ear for some inexplicable reason, Terry takes a job retrieving a case for some gangsters which contains some rich blackmail material relating to governmental corruption (or formula for making some high-grade heroin that can be sold for top dollar…err yen…whatever in the American version) as well as one of their family who has gotten into politic hot water. Of course the gangsters, being totally trustworthy and honest dudes as criminals are apt to be, fuck our hero over six ways to Sunday and fail to pay Terry’s fee, so he starts travelling revenge’s road to settle the score. Naturally our dipshit antagonist’s don’t cotton to that and they hire a mariachi mother fucker with laser hands (among other no-goodniks) to take Terry down. Violence ensues.

As mentioned above this is quite a different take on our beloved street fighter. In this film Terry is a master of disguise (complete with impossible rubber masks…and the ability to don a Dracula facade mid-dance no less) and an apartment replete with secret rooms. Don’t fret though…he still has the martial arts skills to whip major quantities of ass…just minus the excessive bloodshed and gore present in the series previous to this entry.

For some this may be too much, but for your’s cruelly this kind of comic book meets James Bond take on the material was right up my arcane alley! I am a true connoisseur of the more outlandish things grindhouse cinema had to offer, and this one is deliciously outrageous indeed, and infinitely enjoyable. Also in the plus column, this flick co-stars Etsuko Shiomi who would soon spin-off into the Sister Street Fighter films (which I reviewed right here).

As for extras on this disc we get both the U.S. cut of the film and the longer Japanese version, as well as trailers for both versions and a stills gallery.

If you are in the mood for explosive martial arts, ever-increasing levels of insanity, and a true grindhouse experience then I urge you to pick up The Street Fighter Collection; it’s the best time you’ll ever have with a world class son of a bitch…Viva Chiba!

 

 

 

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