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  Return of the Street Fighter Just For KicksBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
Stars: Sonny Chiba, Yôko Ichiji, Masashi Ishibashi, Shingo Yamashiro, Hiroshi Tanaka, Masafumi Suzuki, Claude Gagnon, Masataka Iwao, Zulu Yachi, Katsuysa Yamashita, George Yirikian
Genre: Thriller, Martial Arts, Trash
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: The Yakuza have hired hitman Takama Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) to take care of two men, one who has gone to the police and another who has stolen a priceless statue. They both know too much and when they say "take care of" they mean eliminate, so off Tsurugi goes on his motorbike to get arrested for beating up a selection of bodyguards. Once in the police station, he is handcuffed and going quietly until he notices his target and then makes with the martial arts moves to smash the cops around and jab the grass in the throat to ensure he never talks to anyone ever again. Yet there's more to this than he realises...

Some of the same team who had brought the world The Street Fighter produced this hasty sequel the same year, and as before it was a showcase for the deeply unsubtle Chiba to make with the violence on his fellow man (and occasionally woman), usually those who deserved it but not always, making him a morally shady anti-hero at best. Of course, this was his appeal and Hajjime Koiwa's script offered him ample opportunity to flex his muscles, if not his acting abilities. As a tornado of aggression, however, this was what made him so memorable.

Tsurugi (who is named Terry in the English language version, a name more reminiscent of British sitcom characters) has a sidekick, too, a young woman in some enormous flared trousers and an equally huge knitted cap called Kitty (Yôko Ichiji) who points him in the right direction, essentially winding him up like a toy robot and letting him loose on the bad guys. There's never a hint of romance between these two, in spite of Kitty's obvious affection for the easygoing (more easygoing than the first film, anyway) psychopath, but you get the impression that he wouldn't have much time for love.

Although he does have time for sex, but only with assassin women who he can kill after they try and fail to bump him off by stealth. This is a mere sideshow to the real plot, where Tsurugi doesn't actually appear all that much for the initial half hour, and then mainly in black and white flashback; in fact the first third has more to do with a martial arts school whose charitable status is a front for more underhand dealings. Cue too many sequences of padding with the pupils learning all about chainsticks and other weapons, and the old favourite, smashing bricks with their bare hands.

Once Tsurugi manages to get on the wrong side of the gangsters - and behind the Yakuza is apparently the American Mafia, which you may not have known - then he is a marked man, but rest assured he has the skills to crunch his way out of every sticky situation. This means setpieces at a ski resort (including that favourite move, hit someone on the back of the head so hard their eyes pop out like in a cartoon), at a health spa and with a certain character whose throat was ripped out by our man in the previous instalment but through the wonders of technology now has a robot throat (really) to enable him to explain his reappearance. Naturally, much thumping ensues, with the predictably despicable behaviour of the bad guys the only excuse Tsurugi needs to rain vengeance down on their heads. Followed by yet another sequel the same year - three films in one year! Music by Toshiaki Tsushima.

Aka: Satsujin ken 2
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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