The Street Fighter


"But face it. The movie stunk. It was confusing, boring in spots, and dated. Jive theme music, though."

- Woody

The Street Fighter (2000)

Director: Shigehiro Ozawa

Writer: Koji Takada

Cast: Sonny Chiba (Takuma Tsurugi), Waichi Yamada (Ratnose), Tony Cetera (Jadot), Yutaka Nakajima (Sarai), Teijo Shikeharo, King Stone (Mr. Kingstone), Masashi Ishibashi (Junjou), Akira Shioji (Yana), Osman Yusuf (Thug), Angel Cordero

Running Time: 90 min.

Plot: Tsurugi, a mercenary takes on the yakuza and his old nemesis, Junjou in order to safeguard a young heiress whose fortune is desired by the criminal organization.

Availability: This title is available at VCI Entertainment


JESSE'S REVIEW: Hey kids, do you like violence? Then I have just the movie for you! Sonny Chiba stars as Terry Tsurugi in this 1974 martial-arts classic, in which he plays a badass mercenary karate-killing machine. And by badass, I truly do mean BADASS. But let's discuss the plot first before we get into what makes our antihero so incredibly badass (there, I said it again!) In the beginning of the film, we see Tsurugi disguised as a Buddhist priest who goes to prison and visits Junjou (Masashi Ishibashi), another karate master, in order to help him escape from his impending death. We see Terry and Junjou engage in a brief battle, which ends with Terry performing an ancient technique on his opponent that causes his body to lose oxygen. He does that so Junjo will pass out and be sent to the hospital before he is hanged as planned. Cue the title screen, and also cue a very funky and memorable 70's score. Junjou's brother and sister visit Terry a few days later, and tell him that they don't have the money that they owe Terry for him helping to break their brother out of prison. This is the first lesson that the siblings (and we as an audience) learn about Terry: you really don't want to piss him off. Because if you do, there will be dire consequences. Terry tells them that he has made the decision to sell Junjou's sister on the streets to make back the money owed to him, and in a fit of rage Junjou's brother is killed while trying to defend his sister and physically attacking Terry at the same time. Terry gives Junjou's sister to a group of men that he soon finds out is part of Japan's crime syndicate known as the Yakuza, who are also backed by the American mob. When Terry refuses to kidnap the daughter of a recently deceased oil tycoon for them, they get furious and do all that is in their power to kill Terry because of the information he now knows about them. Things get a bit more complicated as Terry and his partner Ratnose (Waichi Yamada) fight off those who betrayed them while at the same time helping that young woman that the Yakuza is after so they may be able to get their hand on some of the money themselves. All the while, Terry's old pal Junjou is planning his great revenge for the cruel acts that Terry has inflicted upon his sister. 
Now, enough with all the messy plot details: This is the point in the review where I explain to you what makes Terry Tsurugi one of the coolest mofos to ever grace the screen. First off, he gets his very own theme song which plays throughout the movie about two or three times, and it is one of the catchiest and baddest movie themes you'll ever hear. Terry Tsurugi, a.k.a. "the Streetfighter", reminds me very much so of Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name from Sergio Leone's epic Dollars trilogy. He has a very cold demeanor and a dark outlook on things in general, and rarely shows emotion. In a haunting flashback during the middle part of the film, we see Terry as a young child, as he watches his father get killed by a group of soldiers. As Terry remembers that horrible and tragic event that took place in his life, we hear the words of his father in his head, telling him to trust no one and to practice to be the best fighter that he can. Because of that incident, Terry shows no mercy, and thus is allowed to reach his full potential as the ultimate (hate to say it again, but I will...) badass. Though much like Eastwood's Joe in Fistful of Dollars, Terry does show some emotion throughout the course of the film as either someone close to him dies or he realizes that not everyone in the world is out to get him. Which brings me to my final example (actually, examples) of why Sonny Chiba's character in The Streetfighter is such an amazingly awesome ba... bad... ok, this is the only word that fits... badass! In what other film can you see a character pluck someone's eyes out, and then proceed to wipe the gooey eyeball residue from his fingers on the person next to him? In what other film can you see an x-ray of a man's head right before you actually see a hardened fist go straight into his skull and blood spurt out everywhere? In what other film can you see a man (rapist to be more exact) actually get his privates ripped off, as the one doing the private ripping merely sighs at what he has just done? In what other film can you see a man get his throat ripped out in all of the nice, gory details that we all desperately look for while watching a movie such as this?

Ok, may have seen all of these things in more recent (and maybe even better to some degree) films, but more than likely The Streetfighter is where they all took their inspiration. And to be more exact, where can you see all of these brutal acts performed by the one and only Sonny Chiba, playing the one and only Terry Tsurugi? Why, only in The Streetfigher, that is! The Streetfighter is a film that offers buckets of blood and plenty of hardcore action, while also having a fairly coherent plot with a cast of colorful characters, which makes it a definite must-see. If I have one pet peeve about this film, it's that things don't start to get really crazy and entertaining until the 55-minute mark or so. But other than that, this is definitely something that you should pick up and watch if you haven't yet. And remember... If you've got to fight, fight dirty! 


WOODY'S REVIEW: Street Fighter reminds me of the first time I ever rode a roller coaster.

Walking into Knott's Berry Farm, a theme park in Buena Park, California, I knew that it was going to be the day I'd been waiting for for years. At seven years old, I was finally tall enough to ride a REAL rollercoaster at Knott's Berry Farm. For years, I was forced to ride the kiddie rides...the ferris wheel, the bumper cars, the Bigfoot Rapids. I mean, sure, those rides were fun and all, but they had nothing on the ride I had my sights set on...Montezuma's Revenge. At the time, merely uttering it's name would cease all talking on the playground. Some kids claimed to have been on it, but we knew they were lying. For riding Montezuma's Revenge...that was a life altering experience. All of the big kids bragged about it nonchalantly. "Montezuma's Revenge", one tough sixth grader said,"That shit ain't shit. You little kids are just pussies." I knew they hadn't been on it. Reaching speeds, or so I was told by other third graders on the playground, of 220 miles per hour, and featuring a loop that went "sixty-five bajillion plus infinity" feet up into the air, I just knew that going on that ride would separate me from the mere boys. I would be a man. I'd grow a mustache, draw comic books, and look at my wife's boobies. I was going to be strapped into the ride a 45-pound weakling and come out wit the hair on my chest that, no matter what my grandfather said, brussel sprouts could not put there.

So there I was, standing in front of a ride that seemed impossibly tall and fast. As I stood in a never-ending life, my anticipation grew. I was going to soar like a pigeon-rat in the clouds, I was going to hang upside down in the loop, giving a big middle finger to the concept of gravity, I was going to...I was going to piss my pants. So, after running out of line, taking a leak on the bathroom wall, and begging my parents to get back in line, where we stood for about a day and a half, there I was, the front of the line. The rollercoaster cars rushed in. The people looked dazed, happy, and some sick. After exiting the cars, the ushers told me to pick a seat. My father suggested taking one in the back. He said it would be even scarier. I was excited, but not delirious. I ran to the front of the cars and hopped in next to a hot teenage chick, while my father just shrugged. She nervously smiled and raised her eyebrows at me. "Just you wait, baby", I thought,"by the time this ride is over, I'll have ear hair." I knew girls like that liked older men. This ride was going to make me a man. With any luck, I figured, I was going to giggle, tongue-kissing this babe by the time this ride was over.

The ride was over pretty fast. I went around the loop, went straight up in the air, put my hands up, and thought to myself, "Is this it?" I didn't soar through the clouds. I didn't defy gravity. I didn't grow any hair in my ears. It was fun and all, but it didn't change me from a boy to a chest beatin', beer drinkin' man. All it did was sour me on rollercoasters. That was, until Six Flags Magic Mountain came out with a ride that really did defy gravity. A ride that nearly made me shit my pants. A ride whose blueprints were drawn up by God himself and handed down to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Yes, my friends, that ride gave me a reason to love theme parks again. That ride? Superman.

Flash forward about seven years into the future. An avid fan of Martial Arts films, I'd searched high and low for Sonny Chiba's "Street Fighter" Hailed by an assload of knowledgeable film types, mostly Quentin Tarantino, and mentioned in the Tarantino penned classic "True Romance", I knew that this was the movie that would change my life. I would see this movie, get a job at a video store, steal other peoples ideas and make great scripts out of them, and make endlessly praised films, becoming the talk of Tinseltown in the process.

But more than anything, I wanted this movie because I was tiring of the same ol' same ol' martial arts movies. I was tired of badly dubbed Shaw Brothers epics and watching people fly around. I was tired of honorable people doing honorable things. And I was especially tired of the kung fu comedy, what with it's endless fart jokes and hamminess. I needed "Street Fighter", a brutal, bone popping, dick-ripping film with a hero whose idea of honorability is selling a dead guy's sister into prostitution.

After years of waiting, the day arrived. Walking into Suncoast, a video store at the mall, I walked over to my usual spot in front of the Martial Arts DVD Section. And there she was. Sonny's Chiba's "Street fighter" and it's sequel, both widescreen, both uncut, and both on one disc. For ten dollars. My mouth dropped to the floor, my hand reached for my wallet, and the cashier gave me a look that said, "Get a fucking life!"

After a couple of false starts (I had to eat some popcorn and take a piss), I popped the movie in braced myself for a life altering movie going experience. When it was over, I sighed. I didn't cheer. I didn't feel inspired. I felt...bored. "Is this it?" I asked aloud.

Yeah, Chiba was good, and yeah, it was violent, but c'mon. It just wasn't as great as Tarantino had lead me to believe. The plot was a mess. It was violent, but not that violent. I mean, you don't even see the dick when Sonny tears it off. And yes, as you may have read, there is an x-ray skull punch, but it isn't cool. It's just cheesy. Instead of going "whoa!" I giggled like a schoolgirl.

I really liked Chiba. He was a badass. Kinda like me, if you replaced the wimpiness with bad-assness. He fought dirty and had next to no morals. He was only the good guy because everyone else was so rotten.

But face it. The movie stunk. It was confusing, boring in spots, and dated. Jive theme music, though.

Anyways, I was pissed. That was the last Martial Arts movie I watched for a long time. I totally soured on them. If that was as good as it gets, I didn't care to see another Martial Arts flick for as long as I lived. That was, until I saw "Chinese Super Ninja", a film written and directed by God Himself, Chang Cheh.

So what was the point of this review? To talk about rollercoasters? To trash "Street Fighter", a movie loved by so many? Or was it written to suggest that Chang Cheh, our divine God, wrote the blueprints for Six Flags' most kickass ride? Well, yeah. But I also wanted to show you just how high my expectations for both "Street Fighter" and "Montezuma's Revenge" were, and how those expectations were so horrendously dashed. To quote the prophet Flavor Flav in Ezekial 24:12 "Don't Believe The Hype" If anything, I want you to get the following things out of this review: 1. Street Fighter is overrated. 2. Superman the ride kicks ass. 3. Woody has a severely retarded outlook on religion, and lastly, 4. Not only Numskull can write long as hell reviews. Of course, his are a lot more concise and to the point, but can't take away from me the fact that this is a really l-o-o-o-n-n-g-g-g review.

WOODY'S RATING: 6/10 (mostly for Chiba...a most kickass dude)