Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Sister Street Fighter
Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Uncut DVD by BCI/Eclipse (apart of the Sister Street Fighter Collection)

Sister Street Fighter has nothing to do the the video game Street Fighter and almost nothing to do with it’s namesake the Sonny Chiba karate masterpiece, The Street Fighter but is just as awesome as both of them. In case you are unfamiliar with The Street Fighter, it starred Sonny Chiba in the titular role, as an anti-hero mercenary who kicked ass and gave zero shits about right and wrong. Both The Street Fighter and Sister Street Fighter were made in the same year, both had Sonny Chiba in them (he plays a different character altogether in SSF) and both kicked major ass, so the studio decided to name the film Sister Street Fighter to capitalize on The Street Fighter’s popularity.

The movie starts off with a super sweet, psychedelic opening montage of the main character, Tina Long (or Koryu in the Japanese version but for this review I’m going to refer to her as Tina) showing off a bunch of her killer karate moves. This lets the viewer know that she kicks fuckin’ ass. Tina is played by the wonderful Sue Shiomi who went on to play this character three more times and starred in other various movies alongside Sonny Chiba.  As far as the plot goes, Tina’s brother, Lee is an undercover cop trying to bust a drug ring that is importing heroin via wigs. Yeah, you read that right. Heroin hidden in wigs. Her brother blows it and is caught by the drug lord, Ryozo who uses him as a guinea pig for different concoctions of heroin and other drugs he mixes up. Tina vows to save her brother and stop this drug ring and to do so, she enlists the help of the Shorinji Kempo student Sonny Hibachi (Sonny Chiba) and a female student named Emmy Kawasaki in her quest. Side note: the Shorinji Kempo school’s logo happens to be a swastika but it’s not like the asshole nazi type swastika, it’’s more like the peace loving swastika so it’s ok. All sorts of crazy shit happens after this. An informant who was forcibly addicted to heroin gets a poison dart to the chest, men in umbrella hats attack the Shorinji Kempo school, people fall through traps doors and fall off bridges, there’s some fucking ballet that happens, there’s a priest who shoots a nail gun and the craziest karate screams I have ever heard in any karate movie. If that doesn’t make you want to watch this movie then you, sir or madam, are weird.
Umbrella Head Gang
You know in James Bond movies how the main villain seems to always collect or have an interest in crazy things like sharks or weird guns? Well, the villain in this flick collects various deadly martial artists from around the world. He basically has a harem of ruthless killers who are practicing poolside all day, everyday. “It’s my only hobby, one might say. I don’t like race horses so I keep killers!” There’s a guy who’s really good with nunchucks, a guy who‘s got a sickle on a God damn chain that he whips around, one guy has Tonfas (they are basically batons), there’s a South American Female Karate Champion, a dude with a set of Sai (Raphael's weapons from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and seven chicks who are good at Thai Kickboxing called the Amazon Seven. These chicks for whatever reason wear caveman clothes ala Fred Flintstone and it is hilarious. All of these master killers get their asses handed to them by Tina throughout the film so maybe he should have collected machine guns or something a bit more effective at killing.
This guy is fucked
My favorite part of this movie is that everytime someone uses a weapon or a different fighting style, they say the name of the fighter/weapon/fighting style in giant letters that take up the entire screen. It’s like watching a video game. In fact this whole movie plays out like a super sweet video game. Tina and her friends take on each of the killers in the same way a fighting game plays out. Each one has a “stage” and each one has an opening taunt much like Street Fighter (the video game) or Soul Calibur (also a video game). The boss fight… err… last battle of the movie is, of course, with Ryozo who uses a three pronged claw on one hand as his weapon ala Vega from the Street Fighter video game on a cliff above the ocean. It’s pretty epic.
Round One - FIGHT!
Sister Street Fighter’s badassery knows no bounds and is one of the greatest karate movies ever made. The fights are spectacularly choreographed and are totally brutal. While the story plays out much like a Bruce Lee movie, which is to say it’s only there to provide fight sequences, it flows well and is fully entertaining. The cinematography is actually very interesting and ambitious for a martial arts film. This film kicks major ass and deserves more credit than it gets.

Set Yourself Up:
This movie is best paired with a plate of Spicy Yellowtail Maki and a couple bottles of Kirin Ichiban

The Goods:
BCI/Eclipse did a really great job with the Sister Street Fighter Collection box set. The set includes all four movies beautifully restored with the Japanese audio with English subtitles for all of the movies and the option of the English dub for the first film. Sister Street Fighter has been restored to its original cut which was garnered with an X rating when first released. The only special feature on any of the discs are the original theatrical trailers. The box comes a booklet that would rival most booklets found in Criterion releases. It’s filled with essays, interviews and rare photos. Since Sister Street Fighter is now a public domain movie you can find tons of cheap, random releases most anywhere. You can also find it on youtube but I highly recommend that you add the Sister Street Fighter Collection box set to your collection. It is one of the only places where you can find the uncut version of the first film along with the other three films in one nice package.
-T. Reinert

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