The Street Fighter (1974)

If you’re like me, you probably first heard of this film via Quentin Tarantino, who refers to it in his script for True Romance, and probably got a few folk excited by the prospect of this amazingly violent film having an even more violent X-rated version. And, well, here we are, probably 17 or 18 years after I first saw True Romance, and I’ve now actually seen the X myself… even went out of my way to find a Japanese copy on Youtube  with subtitles, cos I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of the dubbed copy I found… and now I’m feeling oddly let down. Part of it is that, basically, it’s not actually much of a film, but also, you know, the violence. There’s a fair amount of it, but only two or three scenes (most notably the castration business) that go “beyond the pale” by early 70s standards. The film itself is somewhat curious; I don’t know its production history but it certainly feels like it was designed to make its star Sonny Chiba into Nippon’s own Bruce Lee (albeit a rather darker and nastier version of him)… the modern-day setting feels odd for this character and this story, though, it feels like something Shaw Brothers might’ve filmed only they would’ve set it in the past, and would’ve actually made an effort with it too. I know nothing about director Shigehiro Ozawa other than that the Street Fighter films were basically the last ones he made, and this one doesn’t suggest a great loss to the industry. Filmed in a flat and murky manner, bordering on being outright unattractive, the main things the film has in its favour are its reasonably plentiful action scenes and the antiheroic angle of Chiba’s characters, although even then the film doesn’t make as much of those things as it might’ve done. Maybe it’s more fun on a big screen with an audience; at any rate I was kind of disappointed tonight.

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