Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sister Street Fighter

Title: Sister Street Fighter
Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Released: 1974
Staring: Etsuko Shihomi, Emi Hayakawa, Sanae Ohori, Bin Amatsu, Sonny Chiba, Masashi Ishibashi

Rating: 5 / 5
Plot: When her undercover agent brother is kidnapped by the drug ring he was infiltrating; Li (Shihomi) is brought in to help find him, with the help of his martial arts school, including the powerful Seiichi Hibiki (Chiba)

Review: Well it’s safe to say that purchasing the Multi region DVD player, has once again proved to be a great purchase, especially seeing how without it I wouldn’t have been able to discover this first film in the Sister Street Fighter collection and to think the original reason I bought the player in the first place, was just so I could watch the second season of “Dead like Me”. Still while celebrating turning twenty seven on Thursday, I thought I’d dig this out from the viewing pile and now I’m so glad I did.

A spin off from Sonny Chiba’s “Street Fighter” Series, which the studio bosses at Toei were keen to cash in, after the success of the first two films, even more so with the craze for female driven exploitation movies at a high. Chiba himself recommended the star pupil of his Japanese Action Club (JAC) Shihomi for the title role of this series, after the studio’s original choice Angela Mao wasn’t available for filming and despite the fact that she had no previous acting credits to her name. It would prove to be well placed faith on Chiba’s part as Shihomi embodies the role of the titular sister street fighter, who despite the title actually has no link whatsoever to Terry Tsurugi, the antihero lead of Chiba’s Street Fighter movies, but this doesn’t stop it from still being just as fun.

The villain of this first outing for Li, Kakuzaki (Amatsu) is certainly an interesting character who not only enjoys experimenting running drug experiments on his prisoners, but has used the wealth he has gained from his drug empire to assemble an impressive collection of fighters who act as his personal bodyguards, no doubt having learned from his criminal forefathers the importance of having as many fighters as you can, especially when you have some martial artist do-gooder trying to destroy your empire. It is also safe to say that he has quite an eclectic selection; including a group of female Thai kick boxers dressed in leopard print loincloths named “The Amazon Seven”, a guy who runs around in a cape welding a blow dart pipe and Zulu shield and the supposed karate champion of Australia Eva Parish, whose does nothing more than exhibit some horrible looking movies against a punch bag, before mysteriously disappearing from the film entirely! Still these pale in comparison to the wicker basket wearing goons of Kakuzaki’s right hand man Inubashiri (Ishibashi). Still Li is not alone in her fight against Kakuzaki and his army of crazy martial artists as she teams up with Hibiki (Chiba) the ex-karate club captain, ex-racer, ex-bodyguard, and general badass, though fans of Chiba might be disappointed that his appearance is pretty much an extended cameo appearance, rather than being a role with any real depth to it.

Chiba’s Street Fighter movies were notorious for their scenes of comic book style violence and this is no different with Sister Street Fighter, with highlights including a head being twisted a full 180 degree’s while at the same time Director Yamaguchi cranks up the sheer randomness, which is something that this film has by the truckload, which is also probably one of reasons I found this film so enjoyable to watch, as the story is awful and the majority of the acting is quite painful to watch, much like the dubbed version of this film, which thankfully I spared myself the trauma of sitting through, instead sticking with the subtitled version, which is now finally available thanks to the folks at Ronin Entertainment, who have put together a great boxset containing all four of the Sister Street fighter movies, with the disks containing both the dubbed and subtitle versions, which certainly welcome for those of us who like a choice, between the two.
Sister Street Fighter is a certainly a strictly exploitation style movie, from it’s energetic soundtrack which includes a stereotypical “Hong Kong Theme” to gratuitous scenes shot at a strip club, as well as one of the more shocking moments, as Kakuzaki forces one of his minions to watch as another of his more portly minions rapes his daughter, still at the same time it does provide the film with slightly more leeway especially when it comes to some of the more unexplainable moments contained within, such as why Kakuzaki is smuggling Heroin disguised as wigs? Aswell as one of my personal favourite fight sequences which see’s Li suddenly being transported suddenly from Kakuzaki’s compound to a seaside cliff before suddenly leaping to her fighting suddenly on a suspension bridge, which also leads to perhaps one of the least convincing dummies being thrown off said bridge. Still no doubt if you have stuck with the film until this point, that this scene appears your probably willing to accept anything.
The fight scenes are varied and kept interesting thanks to the range of abilities of Kakuzaki’s henchmen, with each of their abilities splashed across the screen in huge letters, when each of them make their first appearance. These scenes are also so enjoyable to watch, thanks largely to the fighting talent of Shihomi who appears comfortable performing both with weapons and without them, an obvious advantage gained through her training with JAC, whose speciality is training martial arts actors, while also using her innocent appearance to devastating effect here, usually while bashing some bad guy with a nun chuck or while driving one of her Sai through someone’s skull.

“Sister Street Fighter” is far from a perfect film, especially with it’s sheer randomness and truck sized plot holes, yet somehow out of this it still manages to be an extremely fun movie and defiantly worth a look for the fans of the “Street Fighter” movies and those of us who like their kung fu alittle less art house and a lot more fun!


  1. First of all, happy birthday! Second of all, I thought of you this morning because I was watching a Godzilla movie while I couldn't sleep, and thus remembered your banner. Thirdly, this movie sounds like a riot. I like my kung fu just exactly like this - plot holes and all!

  2. Thanks Jenn. I know I can't help but think of the cover of Ozzy Ozbourne's "Bizzard of Oz" when I see your banner, which isn't a bad thing.
    This film is definatly alot of fun, much like the original Sonny Chiba "Street Fighter" films, so I'm hoping the rest of this series is as much fun.


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