Return of the Street Fighter (1974)
Once again the body count is high when Sonny Chiba returns as the hitman for hire, Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi. Kicking the action into high gear shortly after the opening credits, Chiba, is hired to remove a pair of dangerous informers. One of which is already in police custody. What better way to get close to his prey than to have himself arrested. He’ll not only take out his intended victim but beat the hell out of half the police force on duty that day. With one mark taken care of he’s quick to find the other with much the same results.
The meat of the plot will develop when the Yakuza and Mafia develop a scam involving the Karate Club overseen my master Sensei, Masafumi Suzuki, returning from the first film. His club is being used as a front in an attempt to extract heavy donations from benefactors believing that the funds are to used in developing a new state of the art club for those studying the art of Karate. In fact the money is being siphoned into the bank accounts of local mobsters. When Suzuki discovers his club is being used as a pawn he confronts the underworld figures resulting in the Yakuza approaching Chiba with a new target for killing.
Chiba will of course turn down the job and like the first film has all but signed his own death warrant for now knowing too much. He may be a killer but he has a code of honor he’ll stand on.
The fists soon fly and the carnage is heavy when Chiba is at first attacked on a ski slope followed by a memorable battle against a small army of assassins in a sauna. Probably the highlight of the film. Not only because of the choreographed fight scenes but the comic relief as well when Chiba engages in a conversation with a chubby wanna be fighter who is bragging on his prowess in karate. He’ll even take one look at Chiba’s lean, muscular body and ask him if he stays in shape playing badminton or ping pong.
Assassins can come in all shapes and sizes including a sexy looking woman. Won’t stop Chiba from first bedding her before overpowering her in a bone snapping battle to the death after she turns on him.
Also returning from the first film and still looking for revenge is Chiba’s nemesis, Milton Ishibashi. He’s come out of seclusion to do the Mafia’s bidding and kill Chiba in hand to hand combat. As much action as there is going on there is one tweak I’d love to make if only we could the clock back on this the second film of the Street Fighter trilogy. The main representative of the Mafia is played by some guy who actually hails from Canada named Claude Gagnon. He looks about as Italian as I do. More to the point he looks like a hippie who somehow missed the turnoff to Woodstock 5 years ago and has been watching reruns of Easy Rider ever since.
So, my point is can you just imagine how cool this film could have been if the production company Toei had gone out and hired Henry Silva as the Mafia kingpin? At this point Silva was starring in a string of Eurocrime thrillers? Chiba vs. Silva! The result…. Instant Cult Classic.
Then again one could argue this is a cult classic. But damn I still think my idea is totally awesome so let’s find a time machine and recast this role.
Also playing a role in the film is the sexy Yoko Ichiji as Kitty. She’s attached to the mob at first but seems to be enamored of Chiba and will prove to be his greatest ally in the film championing him to rise from the brink of destruction as if he’s a karate killing version of Hulk Hogan facing certain death at the hands of his enemies in the ring. Like the Hulkster, Chiba will practically raise a hand in the air to the sounds of an enthusiastic crowd as he turns the tables on all those in his path who have wronged him while delivering his own brand of eye popping vengeance. And I do mean eye popping.
Once again the Street Fighter saga is directed by Shigehiro Ozawa who incorporates footage from the first film into this one to give it’s plot more of a background. On second thought it may have turned up in black and white flashback sequences to pad the running time in this the second of three Chiba Street Fighter blood fests. Producers have been known to do that. At 83 minutes they could have easily squeezed out those clips to bring this in at a furious 70 minutes.
Like the first film this is now available in a new blu ray trilogy courtesy of Shout Select that is well worth the few dollars to acquire. The movie poster? Not sure how much one might cost you but this one is off limits but on display here in the vault at Mike’s Take.