Return Of The Street Fighter (Japan 1974)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 4/22/19
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Yoko Ichiji

Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) is back in action, hired to silence a couple of thugs and steal back a precious golden Buddha. But when he refuses to assassinate one of his respected mentors, the mafia decides he knows too much and that it's time to take him out. With that established, the rest of the film is pretty much non-stop action as various bad guys try to outwit and kill Tsurugi before he can get revenge for the double-cross. Helping him out is a cute, but goofy street urchin named Boke (Yoko Ichiji) that he picked up somewhere along the way. She adores him and repeatedly saves his life, but there's more to her than meets the eye.

It's a slow starter and the various martial arts demonstrations quickly become tedious and boring. There's also an extended breathing exercise class that goes on WAY too long. Fortunately, once the bad guys are introduced, the pacing picks up considerably and Sonny Chiba leaps into action. His hard-hitting style lacks grace and finesse, but it's refreshingly raw and brutal. The action is also surprisingly quick, which is unusual for Japanese cinema. It makes me wonder if there was some minor undercranking involved. He's the real deal, though, and both he and his stunt team suffer for their art. Chiba tones down his ridiculous facial expressions quite a bit in this outing, which makes it easier to take him more seriously. The crazy expressions are reserved for his victims instead, which are often quite amusing. In one of the film's best scenes, he hits someone so hard that their eyes pop out of their sockets. The film cheats a bit by showing extended flashbacks from the original film and needlessly resurrecting one of its characters. Overall, it's an enjoyable action film, as long as you can put up with its conceits and its sillier moments.