If You’ve Got To Fight – Fight Dirty!
Starring: Sonny Chiba, Gerald Yamada, Tony Cetera, Doris Nakajima
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
1974 | 91 Minutes | Rated R
“You’re not a man. You’re a miserable crawling cockroach.” – Terry Tsurugi
Even though I have always heard such great things about The Street Fighter, I was always a little wary of watching it. I always thought it was just another kung fu movie. That assessment really wasn’t very accurate at all.
Terry Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) and his sidekick Rakuda aka Ratnose break Junjo, a convicted murderer, out of prison before he is able to be executed. Junjo’s brother, Gijun, and sister, Nachi, tell Tsurugi that they will need more time to pay Terry for their work. Terry is insulted and attacks Gijun and Nachi. Gijun attempts a flying kick but Terry dodges it and Gijun goes flying out the window to his death. Terry then sells Nachi into sex slavery for gangster Mutaguchi. Mutaguchi tries to hire Terry to kidnap Sarai, who after her father’s death is now the owner of a very large oil company. Terry refuses after finding out that Mutaguchi is with the Yakuza. Mutaguchi and his men vow to kill Tsurugi and capture Sarai. Sarai’s uncle, karate master Masaoka asks Terry to protect his niece and Terry agrees. Mutaguchi hires Junjo to kill Terry, vowing to free his sister if Junjo is successful. The gangsters send many different brutes to try to kill Tsurugi and eventually capture Sarai. Terry fights his way to save Sarai to fulfill his promise.
Sonny Chiba is a legend for a reason. The guy exudes bad ass with his facial expressions, poise and demeanor. He pulls off Terry Tsurugi as a rather unsavory character who actually sells a woman into sex slavery and we still end up cheering the guy on soon after.
The action of The Street Fighter is much, much better than I had expected. I was picturing the classic cheesy 70s martial arts that we all know from staying up too late watching cable TV on a Saturday night. What I got was actually very well choreographed with the henchmen showing multiple different styles of martial arts. It is all pretty realistic, too, other than the constant pauses for silly posing where Sonny looks like he is about to hock a loogie and a few hokey 70s wire work bits at the beginning. It is also very violent. Much more so than I was expecting. The Street Fighter was Rated X when it first came to the U.S. with the only reason being the extreme violence. It is all Rated R material now a days but apparently punching a guy in the mouth causing bright red blood & teeth to come splurting out, crushing another guys skull with a chop (complete with X-Ray view) and ripping another dudes *ahem* member off were too graphic for 1970s cinema.
The story is pretty unique. It is pretty rare that any screen writer would present us with such a ruthless and heartless protagonist without really having him reform in some way. The story isn’t as simple as just being betrayed by his employer as we have seen in so many other movies. The Street Fighter first has Terry turn his back on his employers because they wouldn’t pay him his highly inflated asking price. I mean nothing in the movie points to Terry being a good guy in any way, shape or form.
The story is pretty unique but if I am looking at it objectively (that is the point of a review right) the story isn’t exactly told all that well. It is all a little disjointed and gets kinda muddy in the middle. Add in a lot of sub-par dialogue and The Street Fighter is definitely not an Oscar winner. None of that really matters though because it stays entertaining the entire way through.
I really ended up enjoying The Street Fighter. The acting and dialogue are weak but the story is different and the action and martial arts are top notch. Definitely a must watch for every action/martial arts fan.