The Street Fighter (1974)
Also known as Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
and Enter the Street Fighter
Tagline: "If You've Got to Fight - Fight Dirty!"
Body Count: 23 assorted thugs killed.
The Street Fighter was the film that introduced Sonny Chiba to the world and was also the first film
to be rated X for violence alone. It was one of the first 70s exploitation movies to blend the hard-
boiled action of yakuza films with traditional karate action. A delicious melding of the genres, its
unique mix never comes across as a cheap gimmick. This movie may have spawned a trilogy
and a host of imitators but it has aged like wine. Expect sweet action with just a hint of camp.
Chiba plays the part of Terry Tsurugi, a grim anti-hero who plays by his own rules. When he
becomes embroiled in a nefarious plot to kidnap an oil heiress, he messily kills all those who get
in the way of his personal agenda. His unique style lends itself to fight scenes that are less about
finesse and more about raw, frantic action.
The excellent fight scenes make it clear why Sonny Chiba went on to become an action
superstar. The action is fast and brutal, and has as much gore as a George Romero movie. Chiba turns
teeth into chicklets and tears off numerous body parts with his bare hands. Some of the cooler
fight scenes are still being copied by modern films. Think that part in Romeo Must Die where
you see a X-Ray view of a man's skull being crushed is pretty cool? The Street Fighter did it
before, better, and bloodier.
- Terry Tsurugi - A mysterious assassin who lives by his own twisted but noble moral code.
- Ratnose - Terry's sidekick Ratnose is not afraid to help out in a tough situation, and not afraid
to run away from danger if he thinks Terry can handle it. Wears a yarmulke, might be Jewish.
- Junjoun - Out to kill Terry for revenge. Will do anything to defeat him.
The other assorted villains are admittedly not very original. All the standard Kung-Fu archetypes
are there: Western Mafia guy, Zatoichi ripoff guy, the honorable assassin who
refuses to cheat, and of course a scary rapist guy.
The movie begins with Terry breaking Junjoun out of death row in sequence that is as campy as it is cool. Later, when Junjoun's brother
and sister meet with Terry, a scuffle breaks out over payment. The brother takes a messy
shortcut to the sidewalk via the window and Terry sells his sister into white slavery, leading to
an encounter with scary rapist guy. Chiba really puts the "anti" in anti-hero.
Meanwhile, at the dojo, Sarai has returned to her uncle Masaoka only to find out that her father
is dead and the yakuza are after her oil company.
At the same time, Mr. Mataguchi and Fire-Dragon lady try to hire Terry to kidnap Sarai. When
he backs out of the deal, they put a hit out on him. Terry kicks the entire assassination squad's
collective teeth in, so they decide to send for back up.
Afterwards, Terry decides to get back at the yakuza by protecting Sarai. His plan to gain the
trust of Masaoka is to walk in the dojo's front door, beat up everyone inside to show how
vulnerable she is, then offer his services. It works surprisingly well.
But just when it seems that she is safe in his care, trouble shows up in the form of several skilled
assassins from Hong Kong, including one very pissed off Junjoun.
The rest of the movie flows together so well it would be a crime to ruin the last half. Some of its
choicer bits involve a bare handed neutering of scary rapist guy and a sudden cheap shot tonsillectomy that
ends the climatic final battle.
Words can not do this movie justice. What with the cheesy dialog, the bloody fights, and the
exploding eyeballs, this film made Sonny Chiba a god to fans of trash films. As a cult
classic among Grindhouse film buffs it has enjoyed a wide release on a variety of formats and
should be easy to find. Try to look for the unrated and uncut version, not the 73 minute cut R
rated version put out by New Line Home video. Please, if you find any copy, do yourself a
favor and watch it. Something this badass needs to be seen to be experienced and experienced
- Ratnose: "Teeeerrrryyy... Terrrrryyyy"
- Terry: "You'll be unconscious soon through lack of oxygen...It's an ancient technique"
- Flashback VO: "Become a number one man"
- Terry: "So I'm to die because I know who controls the Yakuza here...isn't that mean and nasty"
- Random Mafia guy: "The inscrutable oriental better not screw up"