The Street Fighter (1974)

Posted in Reviews by - January 22, 2013
The Street Fighter (1974)

Sonny Chiba is practically rabid in this iconic fight fest, an attempt to create a Japanese Bruce Lee with an exploitation film so blood thirsty the plot barely gets going before another attack of the red stuff. Yet there is a perverted poetry to the film, despite Sonny’s penchant for targeting the body’s most delicate parts (he tears out eyes, throats and, yes, that part), and follows a code of conduct not too dissimilar from Japan’s classic chambara films and the subsequent spaghetti westerns popular at the time.

Chiba’s character, Terry Sugury, isn’t really a street fighter. He’s more of a contract killer and badass-for-hire recruited by unsavoury sorts to handle their dirty business. When Terry refuses to kidnap the Chinese daughter of a deceased oil tycoon, the Yakuza go crazy and, rather brazenly, try desperately to kill him. It’s quite a half arsed attempt, though, as Terry’s karate moves lay waste to a barrage of thugs in both Tokyo and Hong Kong, before finishing on an oil rig fighting organized crime syndicates singlehandedly.

But look beyond Terry’s eye-gouging and head-kicking and therein lies a complicated character. Terry’s a mixed-raced loner carrying the burden of a murdered father and battling a double-pronged brother and sister karate attack due to a botched job at the start of the movie. Plus his sidekick is bloody useless.

That’s too much for any man to bare. Luckily Chiba tackles everything head on with all the gusto of a bat to the face. Such intensity can only be applauded. The film manages to carry some genuine clout beyond its B movie shackles, transforming instantly into a great franchise with a hot follow-up called Return of the Street Fighter.

Chiba’s most cherished adventure and deservedly so.

AKA: Sudden Attack: The Killing Fist

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