When I mention the name Street Fighter, most of you probably picture something connected with this…
This is pretty natural, since the Street Fighter series of video games is a serious contender for the most popular game series of all time, and is without a doubt the best of the console arcade fighting games. However, prior to 1991’s release of Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, for almost twenty years people would have had a completely different picture in their heads. This one…
1974’s The Street Fighter is perhaps one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made. The short version is that at the start of the 70’s Bruce Lee helped to create a martial arts movie boom, and the Japanese company Toei decided to get in on the action by producing a series of what could almost be called Karate Exploitation movies. Kung Fu was big, so they decided to cash in by producing Karate movies, and their flagship film, The Street Fighter, was based around a rising action star name Sonny Chiba.
The Street Fighter was released in Japan, and then worldwide to massive audience acclaim, and if you watch it then it’s not hard to tell why. The movie is shot surprisingly well with a decent budget, the script is just strong enough to keep it interesting, Chiba is charismatic as heck, and the fights are extremely well choreographed. But, on top of all that, the movie has a unique twist- Terry Tsuguri (Chiba) isn’t a heroic character at all, he’s a bastard of the first order who is more like an chaotic force of nature than a lead character. It’s a movie about lesser villains fighting worse villains, and the innocent people caught between them, and that gives the audience something different than the usual good vs. evil fare that tends to fill martial arts movies.
So, if you’re in the mood for some brutal karate action (it was the first film in American history to earn an X-Rating for violence) with a sense of style and one of the coolest theme songs of the 70’s, then check it out here on YouTube.
“If you’ve got to fight, fight dirty.” My Gran’ma told me that when I was a kid….
Movies like this are great ‘cos they come from a time when film makers weren’t self-conscious about the stuff they made.
Yeah, I’ve discovered a lot of 70’s Japanese stuff was like this- more focused on telling an entertaining story than trying to meet some groupthink criteria of what’s “good”. On the other hand, the two Street Fighter sequels are nowhere near as good as this first movie.
I think a lot of 70’s stuff in general was like this ‘cos the line between “pro” and “audience” was thinner. The folks making stuff weren’t as hung up on the “right” way to do things, and the productions were cheap; so there wasn’t a suit breathing down the producer’s neck the whole time. (it’s sort of the opposite of our discussion about DC Comics’ productions…. how they seem worried that a superhero production won’t be taken serious enough so’s they “Batman” up EVERYTHING they do.)
Sometimes this works and you get fun stuff like this. Sometimes you end up with “Twilight” though….