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I remember I really disliked this movie the first time I saw it... though I not only saw it full-frame (meaning that the fights were often hard to make out), but that it was an edited version, missing all that blood and bone crunching that warms all our hearts. Well, I recently got hands on a DVD of the first movie and this, and I gave it another look. Imagine my surprise that this public domain DVD not only had the movie in widescreen, but uncut! Seems they probably got the master from an old New Line laserdisc. (What's up with that, New Line - you release the first movie on VHS uncut and in widescreen, but you released the second movie on VHS cut and full-frame?!!?)
My view of the movie the second time is somewhat better... but it still doesn't match the impact of the original. Chiba's character is much softer, lacking the anti-hero aspect he had in the original that made him simultaneously grotesque and a figure to respect OR ELSE. As well, the action even in this uncut version I saw lacks the viciousness and bloodiness that was a major selling point of the original. I have to wonder if maybe the harshness was toned down here by the filmmakers in an attempt to gain a wider audience on its home turf.
There are a few acceptable action sequences, but nothing particularly outstanding. The story is lamer, with Chiba's new sidekick a particularly annoying (and ugly!) figure. At times the movie feels like a bad parody of the whole series. Still, it could have been far worse; I remember THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE to be even worse than this! (Though I also saw that full-frame and edited.)
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