Terry is a tough, mercenary, master of martial arts. When an important business magnate dies, leaving billions to his daughter, the Mafia and Yakuza try to hire Terry to kidnap the daughter. When they refuse to meet his exorbitant price, then try to kill him to conceal their secret plans, he promptly offers his services to protect her. Much ultra-violent martial-arts fighting action, as expected, ensues. This also includes a subplot of a family's bloodfeud with Terry over a disputed debt.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Takuma Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) is a martial artist for hire, and at the start of the film, helps the soon-to-be-executed Taketi (Masashi Ishibashi) escape by giving him his 'oxygen coma punch' to the back of his head. He is rushed to hospital and is freed by some of Tsurugi's helpers. Later a group of gangsters try to hire him to kidnap the daughter of an oil tycoon, Sarai (Yutaka Nakajima), which he refuses due to them being Yakuza. Instead, he attacks the dojo where she is being held and is eventually beaten by the dojo master, who nevertheless hires Tsurugi to protect her. Soon he and Sarai are being hunted by the Yakuza, who have also hired Taketi to murder Tsurugi.
Recently this film and its two sequels were given a new lease of life by Tony Scott's True Romance, where the two leads are watching a Sonny Chiba marathon in the cinema (scriptwriter Tarantino being clearly a fan). But Chiba has been huge in Japan and amongst fans of the martial arts fans for decades, and it's not difficult to see why. Chiba is simply a force of nature on screen, with his monkey-like fighting movements and often terrifying facial expressions. His character here is a nasty piece of work. He isn't all inner peace and fighting for the greater good. He fights for money, and will quite happily rip your cock and balls off to stop a rape. Tsurugi's repulsiveness is refreshing, and Chiba is so fascinating to watch in the role that you can't help cheering for him, even when he's beating up a group of innocent karate apprentices.
The plot itself is as convoluted and confusing as a lot of the Japanse Yazuka/martial arts films are, and near to the end I'd forgotten who half the characters were and what their purpose was. But with action scenes this good, I couldn't have cared less. The first film in the US to receive an 'X' rating solely for its violence, The Streetfighter revels in its over-the-top blood letting, and is all the better for it. Mouthfuls of teeth are knocked out, a skull is shattered in X-ray vision, and the aforementioned castration scene has Chiba gleefully holding the prize possession in the air once it's been removed. Big, stupid, and very gory fun.
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