Sonny Chiba is the Anti Bruce Lee. In this cult classic, he plays the infamous Terry Tsurugi, Assassin for hire. We are introduced to Terry as he goes undercover as a Buddhist monk to give the last rites to an inmate named Junjo (Masashi Ishibashi). Terry begins to fight Junjo right in the cell until he reveals that he's on Junjo's side. Terry gives Junjo a secret punch that puts Junjo into a coma. The reason he's doing this is because he's been hired to save Junjo from being executed. The special coma punch doesnt kick in until Junjo is seconds away from being put in the noose. Junjo is whisked away in an ambulance and is intercepted by Terry's sidekick Ratnose (Gerald Yamada). Ratnose beats up the ambulance drivers and tears out of there in the vehicle with Junjo in the back.
Terry has been hired by Junjo's siblings to get him out of jail and to send him to a safe haven in Hong Kong.When Junjos brother and sister show up at Terry's apartment, they explain that they dont have the rest of the money they were to pay him, so they get into a big brawl and Junjos brother accidentally jumps out the window after trying to kick Terry and missing. Terry then takes Junjos sister and sells her to a prostitution ring. Now you know why Terry is considered a "real mean bastard".
Mr Mataguchi (Fumio Watanabe) wants to hire Terry for a job. An oil baron named Hamad has died and his estate has been given to his daughter Sarai (Yutaka Nakajima). Mataguchi's employers are a Hong Kong branch of the Japanese Yakuza. They want to kidnap Sarai so they can get her to sign off her part in her fathers business. Terry decides not to take the job because he doesnt trust the Chinese.
Since Terry has refused, Mataguchi decides to kill him because he knows too much. Mataguchi sends his thugs to Terrys apartment and Terry proceeds to kick their asses. He rips them apart and in one scene he punches a dudes teeth out. They fall out like so many chicklets! This is where you'll see how Terry "redistrubites his chi" by his scratchy breathing technique. Its over the top and cartoonish. Its 100X more exaggerated than Bruce Lee's trademark yells. Sonny Chiba's unique performance is incredibly entertaining and its often downright funny.
After surviving the Yakuza attack, Terry is out to get revenge on Mataguchi, so he does the best thing, he joins the side of right. Sarai's uncle Masaoka is the head of a Japanese Karate School. Terry and Ratnose sneak in and in a great sequence Terry goes apeshit on Masaokas students, kicking their asses one by one. All the while, making over the top kung fu poses, screeching, growling, snarling, and snorting. Masaoka looks like the Japanese William Conrad, hes a fat little bald guy who knew Terrys dad back in the old days. He and Terry battle it out and Masaoka comes out on top and since he feels bad for Terry after remembering how his parents were killed when he was just a child, he gives him the job of protecting Sarai.
Meanwhile, Junjo has been hiding out in Hong Kong and he finds his sister in the brothel hes been hanging out in. Junjo swears to get revenge on Terry. The climactic battle between Junjo and Terry aboard the oil boat in the rain is one of my all time favorite fight sequences/endings. And just wait until you see the final scene!!
The fight sequences in the film are very exploitative. AWESOME! You'll see bones snapping, skulls crushed (one in X Ray vision), throats ripped out, balls ripped off, teeth punched out and lots of BLOOD squirting all over. If you want brutal Grindhouse Japanese karate fighting, The Streetfighter series is for you. This is my favorite out of the three Streetfighter films with Chiba. The others being: Return of the Streetfighter and The Streetfighters Last Revenge.
Reviewed by Popeye Pete - 5/23/07