Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Return of the Street Fighter
Directed by Shigehiro Ozawa and written by Hajime Koiwa with English dialogue by Steve Autry, Return of the Street Fighter is the sequel to the 1974 film The Street Fighter in which Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi goes on a war against the Yakuza for stealing money from charities. The film has Tsurugi trying to be the hero despite his anti-hero persona as he is once again played by Sonny Chiba. Also starring Yoko Ichiji and Masashi “Milton” Ishibashi. Return of the Street Fighter is a wild and stylish film from Shigehiro Ozawa.
The film is the story of this mercenary in Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi who continues to do work for money where he finds himself targeted by the Yakuza after refusing to kill a master who is suspicious of the organization taking money away from charities. It’s a film with a simple plot as it play into this man who is once again set up after refusing to kill someone he actually admires as well as the fact that he is also on the run from the police for killing two men he was hired to kill. Even as it plays into the world of corruption where a Yakuza boss is trying to embezzle money for a martial arts institute in Tokyo for Asia which was really a front for his organization. When the karate master Kendo Masaoka (Masafumi Suzuki) discovers his name being forged, he starts to question things and nearly gets killed prompting Tsurugi to do what is right as he would also go against an old foe.
Shigehiro Ozawa’s direction is quite simple while it is also very stylized in his compositions and the way he presents the action sequences. Shot largely in Tokyo, Ozawa’s direction has this immediacy in the opening sequence as it relates to the job that Tsurugi is being asked as it play into that sense of frenetic action and chaos. Even as it isn’t afraid to play into its low-budget aesthetics where there are moments where the violence is silly and fake blood is shown. Even at one point, there’s a moment that is quite graphic but also ridiculous where Ozawa isn’t afraid to display that humor. Ozawa would use footage from the previous film as flashbacks to establish some of the back story and characters from the previous films. All of which play into the motivation for Tsurugi to go out there and kick ass in a climax that is just over-the-top but also filled with thrills. Overall, Ozawa creates an exhilarating and crazy film about a mercenary taking names and kicking some fuckin’ ass.
Cinematographer Sadaji Yoshida does excellent work with the film‘s grainy cinematography from the usage of black-and-white for the flashbacks as well creating some lighting and moods for some of the fight scenes including its climax. Editor Kozo Horiike does nice work with the editing with its usage of a few fast-cuts as well as other rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and action. Art director Norimichi Igawa does fantastic work with the look of the home base of the Yakuza boss as well as the dojo run by Masaoka. The film’s music by Toshiaki Tsushima is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral music and rock as it play into the air of excitement into the fights as well as in some of the moments of suspense.
The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Claude Gagnon as a mysterious mute man, Hiroshi Tanaka as a Yakuza boss in Otaguro, Naoki Shima as a police investigator named Yamagami trying to help Masaoka, and Masahashi “Milton” Ishibashi as an old foe of Tsurugi in Junjo. Masafumi Suzuki is superb as the karate master Masaoka whom Tsurugi has great respect for as he refuses to kill him for Otaguro and the Mafia. Yoko Ichiji is alright as Kitty as a young woman who aids Tsurugi as she is really a double working for the Mafia where she eventually falls for Tsurugi despite her nerdy appearance. Finally, there’s Sonny Chiba in a remarkable performance as Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi as this mercenary who isn’t afraid to kill or beat anyone up who threatens him as Chiba just maintains that sense that restraint when he isn’t fighting and then just go full-on badass in taking names and kicking some ass.
Return of the Street Fighter is a phenomenal film from Shigehiro Ozawa that features an incredible performance from Sonny Chiba. While it is a film that more of the same in comparison to its predecessor. It is still a film that is a lot of fun while not being afraid of being ridiculous not matter how silly some of the violence is. In the end, Return of the Street Fighter is a sensational film from Shigehiro Ozawa.
Related: The Street Fighter - Sister Street Fighter - (The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge)
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