Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Street Fighter (1974 film)

Directed by Shigehiro Ozawa and written by Koji Takada and Motohiro Torii with English dialogue by Steve Autrey, The Street Fighter is the story of a mercenary who is hired by the Yakuza and the Mafia to kidnap a wealthy heiress only to realize what is at stake as he decides to oppose those who want her kidnapped. The film is the first of a trilogy of films where a man is just fighting and oppose those who go against him as the character of Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi is played by Sonny Chiba. Also starring Doris Nakajima, Gerald Yamata, and Milton Ishibashi. The Street Fighter is an awesome and exhilarating film from Shigehiro Ozawa.

The film revolves a man who is paid to do things as he is asked to kidnap the heiress of an oil company following her father’s death where he begins to realize who wants her and for what as it involves the Yakuza and the Mafia. It’s a film with a simple story where this man named Terry Tsurugi is someone who works for money but is also someone that no one should fuck with as he is a full-on badass that doesn’t take shit from anyone. The film’s script doesn’t have a strong plot but it does play into Tsurugi trying to do what it takes to win and oppose those trying to kill him. Especially when he is asked to do a job for the Yakuza, in affiliation with the Mafia, where he is suspicious knowing that they will set him up proving that he does have some kind of moral and sense of honor. Even those in the Yakuza have his values where they want to do this deal the right way but find themselves clashing with the demands of the Yakuza and the Mafia.

Shigehiro Ozawa’s direction is quite stylish as it isn’t afraid to play up its low-budget aesthetics to create something that is exciting and engaging. Shot largely in Tokyo as well as Kobe in Japan and parts of Hong Kong, the film plays into a world where corruption is starting to become the norm in Asia as it’s all about money and power. While Ozawa would use a few wide shots, he would mostly emphasize on medium shots and close-ups to capture the action as well going for low and slanted camera angles to play into its energy. Ozawa knows when to give the film a break from its action in favor of bits of humor as well as providing a few bits of exposition on Tsurugi. Yet, the film is mainly all action where it isn’t afraid to be graphic in its violence where it can range from intense to just downright silly. Even as there’s moments where Tsurugi will fight women as it is clear that he’s a dick but a dick is about getting the job done no matter what he has to do. Overall, Ozawa creates a wild and fun film about a mercenary kicking the holy shit out of the bad guys and then some.

Cinematographer Ken Tsukakoshi does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its low-grade stock to play into the look of the locations as well as creating some unique lighting in some of the nighttime interior/exterior scenes. Editor Kozo Horiike does brilliant work with the editing as it is very stylized with its jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts to play into the action. Production designer Takatoshi Suzuki does fantastic work with the look of a local dojo owned by a relative of the late oil tycoon as well as the home of a Yakuza leader. The film’s music by Toshiaki Tsushima is amazing for its mixture of orchestral-based music with bits of rock to play into its energy and craziness.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Fumio Watanabe as a boss that Tsurugi works for occasionally, Tony Cetera as a business partner of Sarai’s father, Masafumi Suzuki as a karate master who is also Sarai’s uncle that asks Tsurugi for help, Jiro Chiba and Etsuko Shihomi as a couple of siblings who fail to pay Tsurugi for freeing their brother Junjo, and Rin’ichi Yamamoto in a terrific performance as a Hong Kong crime boss named Dinsau who bears some old values about honor. Masahashi “Milton” Ishibashi is excellent as Junjo as an infamous crime figure whom Tsurugi would free only to want to go against Tsurugi in a fair fight over some debt. Goichi “Gerald” Yamada is brilliant as Tsurugi’s assistant Ratnose who does whatever he can to help his friend as he is a mixture of comic relief and the film’s conscience.

Yukata “Doris” Nakajima is wonderful as Sarai as a heiress to an oil company that is the target of a kidnapping as she is reluctant to accept the protection of Tsurugi while learning the truth about what happened to her father. Finally, there’s Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba in a phenomenal performance as Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi as this mercenary who takes jobs for money as he finds himself at odds with the Yakuza and the Mafia where he does whatever it takes to survive and do what is right. Even as he does things that aren’t cool like hitting women or do things that are ultra-violent yet Chiba still maintains that air of awesomeness in his performance as it’s really the most iconic role of his career.

The Street Fighter is a spectacular film from Shigehiro Ozawa featuring an incredible performance from Sonny Chiba. It’s a film that is just silly fun while giving fans of martial arts film something to enjoy as it features a lot of ass-kicking and all sorts of crazy shit. In the end, The Street Fighter is a tremendous film from Shigehiro Ozawa.

Related: Return of the Street Fighter - Sister Street Fighter - (The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge)

© thevoid99 2016


Dell said...

Glad you got to see this one and enjoyed it. Watching Chiba do all sorts of heinous things is pretty fun. That plot is paper thin, but who cares?

thevoid99 said...

I know. It was fun from start to finish as I was doing some of those karate yells and having a good time. What more do you need in a film?

Unknown said...

Fun movie - they don't make 'em like this anymore - esp. the X-ray shot of the skull getting bashed in! Too bad the subsequent sequels aren't as good.

thevoid99 said...

@J.D. Lafrance-I love that X-ray shot yet it's the moment involving castration that was just so fun to watch. The 2nd one I thought was good but I haven't seen the third one although I heard Sister Street Fighter is actually pretty good.