Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Sister Street Fighter

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi and written by Masahiro Kakefuda and Norifumi Suzuki, Sister Street Fighter is the story of a woman who is aided by a man to fight off a drug lord and his gang who had kidnapped her brother. A spin-off of the Street Fighter film series, the film is a kung-fu adventure that has a woman going nuts on a bunch of fighters who kidnapped and drugged her brother. Starring Etsuko Shihomi, Sonny Chiba, and Hiroshi Miyauchi. Sister Street Fighter is a ridiculous yet exhilarating film from Kazuhiko Yamaguchi.

A martial arts champion is kidnapped by a drug lord during an investigation prompting his younger sister to go find him where she deals with a drug dealer’s gang of thugs as she fights them off. It’s a film with a simple premise that play into a woman trying to find her brother with the help of her uncle, her cousins, a martial arts master, and a few others in Yokohama as it relates to this drug lord’s operation involving heroin. The film’s screenplay does have a traditional structure as it would play into the journey that Tina Long (Etsuko Shihomi) is doing in trying to find her older brother Lee (Hiroshi Miyauchi) who was working for the Hong Kong police force undercover. Yet, Lee has disappeared believing that he’s been captured forcing Tina to find out what is going on as it’s something bigger than herself with Lee being another victim of this drug lord’s ambitions.

Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s direction is stylish for some of the compositions he creates which includes some of the fight scenes in the film. Shot largely in Japan with a few shots in Hong Kong, Yamaguchi maintains a simplicity in the drama and suspense as it play into Tina’s investigation on her brother’s whereabouts that lead to the works of the drug lord in Kaki (Bin Amatsu). Yamaguchi would use some wide shots to establish the locations as he emphasizes more on medium shots and close-ups for the intimate moments as well as the presentation of the fight scenes that include a few slanted angles in some parts. Even as Yamaguchi would showcase some of the thugs that Tina has to face as it adds to the ridiculous elements of the film while there are also darker moments in some of the character deaths as well as one key scene that is intense as it play into the drama. It would climax in a battle that is intense as well as play into some of the silliness as Yamaguchi knows it is over-the-top but it’s all for the good of entertainment. Overall, Yamaguchi crafts an exciting and thrilling film about a woman taking down a drug lord to save her older brother.

Cinematographer Yoshio Nakajima does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with its grainy film stock and usage of low-key lights for some of the scenes set at night. Editor Osamu Nakata does nice work with the editing as it is straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for some of the film’s action scenes including some slow-motion cuts. Production designer Shuichiro Nakamura does fantastic work with the look of some of the places including a ballet studio and the home of Kaki. The film’s music by Shunsuke Kikuchi is wonderful for its mixture of funk and bombastic brass orchestral arrangements to play into the action as it also include some traditional Japanese string and percussion music.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Harry Kondo as Tina’s uncle, Tatsuya Nanjo and Nami Tachibana in their respective roles as Tina’s cousins Jerry and Remi, Xie Xiu-Rong as Lee’s partner Fanny who barely survived her escape, Asao Uchida as a martial arts master in Tetsuo Fujita, May Hayakawa as Fujita’s prized student Emmy Kawasaki who helps Tina out, Sanae Ohori as the ballet teacher Shinobu Kojo who is also a master that helps Tina out, Shohei Yamamoto as a top associate of Kaki in Ryozo Hayashi, Milton Ishibashi as a mercenary Hayashi hires in Hammerhead, and Bin Amatsu in a terrific performance as the slimy drug lord Kaki. Hiroshi Miyauchi is wonderful in his small role as Tina’s brother Lee as a martial arts champ/Hong Kong undercover cop who gets captured as he tries to stop Kaki.

Sonny Chiba is brilliant as Sonny Hibachi as another of Fujita’s gifted students who wants to stop Kaki as he arrives whenever Tina needs help where he just fucks everything up in his path. Finally, there’s Etsuko Shihomi in an amazing performance as Tina Long as a martial arts expert who goes on a search for her brother as she faces immense challenges yet proves to be someone that can overcome these challenges as it’s a performance full of charm as well as ferocity.

Sister Street Fighter is a marvelous film from Kazuhiko Yamaguchi. Featuring a great cast, exciting action, and moments that never takes itself seriously in its approach to violence. Even as it uses its simple premise and low-budget aesthetics to create something that isn’t afraid of being silly or over-the-top. In the end, Sister Street Fighter is a remarkable film from Kazuhiko Yamaguchi.

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

© thevoid99 2018

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