Return of The Streetfighter
From The Deuce
- Released in 1974
- Distributed by Toei Films/New Line Cinema
- Directed by Shigehiro Ozawa
When we last saw Terry Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) he had just fought Junjo on a large oil barge. At the end of the battle in the rain, Terry got the best of poor Junjo and ripped his throat right from his neck. An awesomely brutal, over the top, Grindhouse Karate film ending if there ever was one! In Return of The Streetfighter, Terry is back, this time hes mixed up in a war between a man named Otaguro (Donald Nakajimi), the Mafia and his old friend Masuoka (Masafumi Suzuki), whom he feels a certain loyalty to after their honorable battle in the first Streetfighter.
At the beginning of this film, the evil Otaguro hires Terry to take out two men that previously worked for him, but then split with a priceless gold figure he plans to use for his criminal activities. Terry reluctantly agrees only after Otaguro doubles his price. Terry may be a real mean bastard, but hes not dumb. He wont work for scraps. Terrys first target is Gentoko Reo who is being held in a jail in the city. Terry decides to play it real smooth. He hops on a motorbike and guns it through downtown Tokyo. Pretty soon cops are on his tail like white on rice. Terry then heads straight for the police station to spare time. After he jumps off his bike and flips over the gates of the station, the police are there waiting for him. Terry rips open the gates and the opening credit of the film and that iconic Streetfighter style music blasts out triumphantly. Awesome!
Inside the station, Terry is being brought to a cell, but as soon as he finds out Gentoko is in Room No. 8 as Otaguro stated, he breaks free from the guards and begins to go Krakatoa on all the police trying to stop him. Terry then sees Gentoko and using his deadly two finger punch, he sticks his fingers right into Gentokos neck, destroying his vocal chords so he cant talk to the cops and spill the beans about Otaguro, who has been known as an honest man. Terry then kicks the window pane several times (with his super strength), breaking it apart so he can escape. He then jumps right out the window and lands perfectly on the car thats waiting for him driven by his new little sidekick: Kitty (Yoko Ichui). Terry and Kitty take off and shes having a great time listening to Japanese rock and crooning "OOH-DAH! OOH-DAH!". This Kitty girl cracked me up throughout the film. She looks like a cross between Pippi Longstocking and a 70s pimp. She also uses alot of hilarious "jive talk", throwing words in at the end of sentences like "Jackson" and "Dad". Shes a fun character though for sure and she adds that special buddy element that the first film had with Terry and Ratnose (RIP).
Terrys next target is Rio Grando, whos hiding out in a movie theater with the stolen package. When Rio walks outside, the cops are also on his trail and they begin chasing him down an alley. Suddenly, another person has him cornered. Its Terry and hes ready to kick more ass! Terry gets the package away from Grando and before he knows it, the cops are after him too. Terry grabs a nearby hanging chain and swings up onto a platform that stands over the street. Lucky break!! Terry then sends Kitty with the package to deliver to Otaguro. When Kitty opens the case, we see its a solid gold statue. Otaguro is indeed fronting his martial arts school to create funds to make money for his criminal business.
In between several of the films regular scenes we see the characters from Masuoka's school of Karate training. This adds a nice touch and takes the place of boring dialogue scenes that would drag the film down. The training scenes have fighters practicing with weapons such as Nunchukus, Sais, Bo Staffs, Sickles, and Samurai Swords. This shows the fierce nature of the weapons and how to use them. At the school we meet Masuoka's young daughter who is also practicing to become a great martial artist. She tries to break some bricks with her hand, but with every strike, more blood pours from her fist. Masuoka tells her to only think one thought: "I must do it".
The cops are now on the trail of the dirty dealings of Otaguro and a young officer named Yamagami (Zulu Yachi) is brought in to investigate the matters. He visits Masuoka to talk about Otaguro who has been smuggling money as a front to his "Asian Martial Arts School". Masuoaka goes to tell Otaguro that theres alot of rumors that he is laundering money and Masuoka warns him he better not be, because theres trouble waiting for him. After Masuoka leaves, Otaguro sends a recorded message to Terry hiring him again to kill Masuoka. The message tells Terry to pick up a package at the train station. He and Kitty goto get the package and the key is being held by an American hippie looking dude who doesnt talk at all. Terry asks him who gave him the key but the guy is mute and cant explain. When Terry opens up the locker and reads hes been hired by Otaguro to kill his friend Masuoka, even all the money in the briefcase isnt enough to convince him. Terry rips up the note and heads to the mountains to go skiing instead.
Terry and Kitty get to the top of the mountain and when Terry gets off he sees hes not alone. Hired killers have been sent to take HIM out since he refused to kill Masuoka. Terry fights each one of them in the snow. As the wind howls Terry goes ballistic on each of them. Turning the white snow, crimson red. One of Terrys victims gets punched so hard to the back of his head, his eyes literally pop out like a party favor! Another battle won by The Streetfighter!!
Terry returns to the city, but hes in need of some relaxtion. He heads to a spa and decides to soak awhile in the sauna. While hes in there, another guy sees Terrys been bruised up and tells him he needs to "learn karate!" As the goofy guy tries to impress Terry with his stories, we get some laughs from his zany antics. Even Terry cant supress his giggling when the guy proves his karate power by picking up one of the sauna's volcanic rocks!! As Terry gets a massage, he realizes that somethings wrong. Suddenly an entire group of thugs rush into the spa to take Terry out AGAIN. Terry uses his scratchy breathing to redistrubute his chi (inner strength) and proceeds to bash the men down with his super karate moves. Quick and brutal once again Terry drops each opponent that attacks him with sharp blows. Noone can stop Terry Tsurugi!
Masuoka and Yamagami go out to eat with some of their friends, but next thing they know, Otaguro's thugs bust in and open fire on the dinner party, killing all of them, Masouka is wounded but he manages to get up and fight the rest of the thugs. Terry goes to see Masuoka, but on the way, while the rain pours, Kitty tries to stop him. As they walk along Terry pushes Kitty away and tells her to get lost. Terry sees a familiar figure in the rain standing before him. Its Junjo!! Terry is stunned to see his arch nemisis back and he can still talk too! It seems Junjo had a special electronic voice box impanted on his neck so now, when he speaks it is more creepy and robot like. Junjo challenges Terry to one more fight to the death. He also says hes been sent to kill him by Masuoka. Terry and Junjo proceed to battle, but Terry falls through a drain and is severely injured. All he can do is try to recooperate again. Kitty brings him some bananas and bread. Kitty explains that all along she has been in fact tailing Terry for Otaguro and Terry isnt too surprised. He knows the game of working for criminals. Kitty tells Terry shes sorry, but she knows that Masuoka is been killed and Yamagami too. Terry is hurt badly, but once he decides to get his revenge on Otaguro once and for all, his inner strength comes back and he spits some alcohol on his wound. Then he begins his "scratchy breathing" exercise and regains his strength!! Terry pours more booze on his body and hes ready to do some big damage!!
Kitty stands on a bridge as the sun begins to set. Shes thinking about how she let Terry down. Suddenly a limo pulls up and men jump out and grab her and take her away. Terry goes looking for Kitty and when he arrives at the school. He sees Kitty lying on the ground, shes been beaten to a bloody pulp. Its very dark inside, but soon Terry realizes hes not alone and hes been cornered when some flashlights turn on. The American hippie he ran into at the train station is none other than the Mafias main capo: Don Costello (Claude Gannyon). Terry sees hes in really big trouble when he sees Junjo is there as well. He knows he must become a fighting machine to get out in one piece, which is what he does. The next sequence is a huge fight between Terry and all the thugs in the dark. Terry takes them all out singlehandedly and poor Junjo finally meets his death by being electrocuted. The only one who gets away unharmed is Don Costello. He tries to run from Terry by jumping on a Mobil oil truck thats driving by, but after a short battle, it catches fire and it explodes, killing the Don and we see that Terry isnt too angry about it, in fact he gives us that nice evil Streetfighter grin. As the end credits play, the fire roars in the night.
Return of The Streetfighter is a classic Japanese Karate film from the 70s and its a must see for all lovers of Kung Fu and Exploitation cinema. Sonny Chiba rules as Terry Tsurugi in the series and he has a certain personality that is one of a kind. Unlike other action heroes, Sonny Chiba plays Terry as a totally outlandish karate fighter. His breathing techniques are loud and scratchy, his fighting is quick, over the top and brutal and his personality is mean and cool. In other words: Hes the MAN!!! If you havent seen these classic films yet, Go out and get them!
Reviewed by Popeye Pete - 5/25/07