Street Fighter Collection

The Street Fighter- 1974
Return of The Street Fighter- 1974
The Street Fighter's Last Revenge -1979

While Chow Yun Fat and Jackie Chan were making waves in Hong Kong, Sony Chiba was kicking boody in Japan. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, movies where Chiba plays the protagonist, Terri Tsuguri, the Street fighter, have been brought back from oblivion and are now available in most American Video Stores. Chiba himself made an appearence in Tarantino's block buster, 'Kill Bill Volume I' where he plays an old sword crafter who creates a special sword for Uma Thurman.

Terri Tsuguri is a merciless assasin nicknamed 'the Street Fighter'. I am not sure about the Chiba fans, but I could not relate or even come close to liking this bad boy. In the first installment of the series, 'The Street Fighter', Terry rescues a criminal from prison and when his siblings cannot pay him, sells the criminal's sister to prostitution. How could one 'learn' to like such a character.

This does not mean that the movies do not entertain. Neither the movies nor Chiba makes no pretences about their violence. Terry is ruthless with his enemies. His fights and killings are some of the most brutal that I have seen on screen. Little wonder, Tarantino liked them. His fighting style could be conidered unique, unorthodox and sometimes wierd. He crouches like an animal, squeals sometimes like a mouse and sometimes roars like a lion. He does not think twice before he gouges out the eyes of the victims, pulls out their vocal chords or rips out their privates.

Chiba's demeanour adds lustre to the enigma of the Street Fighter. His robe-like costume, his bushy eyebrows and wide girth make him look like a typical comic book hero. The versions I saw were dubbed, making them more entertaining and humorous, in a way unintended by their makers. In almost all his movies, he takes on a mission from the Yaukza or some other mob and ends up double-crossed. (Will Terry ever learn?)

There is more unintended humor too. (I admit a lot of it is sick.) There is a guy whose vocal parts Terry pulls out in the 'Street Fighter.' This guy comes back alive surprizing Terry (and the audience in the 2nd installment of these movies.) Then there are these bizzare fights where a blow to the back of the head pops out the eyeballs of the victim.

Chiba himself is quite a character. He can be sad with tears unlike most other tough guys, smile at the most unexpected times and is a contortionist, not just with his body but also with his face. He has this ability to twist his whole face and lips into bizzare shapes, some of which have not been seen on screen before. I know of no other actor or star who has this ability.

Like most movies of this genere these movies have endless allusions to honor and other esoteric New Age terms. However,to the die hard martial arts fan who is immune to gore, I would still recommend these movies. Sony Chiba is star material, and some of the fights are spectacular, well choreographed and different from most of the run-of-the-mill martial arts movies.

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