The Street Fighter (1974)
The Street Fighter (Japanese: ザ • ストリート • ファイター, Hepburn: Za Sutorīto Faitā) is a 1974 Japanese martial arts film produced by Toei Company Ltd., originally released in Japan as Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken (激突! 殺人拳, Clash! Killer Fist). It was released in the US by New Line Cinema and became one of the first films to be a commercial success for the distributor. It is notable as the first film to receive an X-rating in the United States solely for violence. In the UK it was originally released as Kung Fu Streetfighter (カンフー・ストリートファイター, Kanfū Sutorītofaitā), presumably to avoid confusion with the Charles Bronson movie Hard Times which was initially released as The Streetfighter in the UK.
The Street Fighter inspired two sequels, Return of the Street Fighter and The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge. Additionally, the film Sister Street Fighter and its sequels is a spin-off series of The Street Fighter. There was another spin-off entitled Kozure Satsujin Ken, which was brought to the US by a different company under the title Karate Warriors. None of the spin-offs have any of the same characters from The Street Fighter films.
The film begins as Takuma Tsurugi (renamed Terry in the English dub) meets the condemned murderer Tateki Shikenbaru (renamed Junjo in the English dub) while disguised as a Buddhist monk. Tsurugi applies his “oxygen coma punch” to Shikenbaru, causing him to collapse just before he can be executed. As Shikenbaru is rushed to a hospital, Tsurugi and his sidekick Rakuda (renamed Ratnose in the English dub) ambush the ambulance and free him. As Tsurugi and Rakuda watch the incident on the news, Shikenbaru’s brother Gijun and sister Nachi arrive and plead for more time to pay for Tsurugi’s help. Outraged, Tsurugi refuses and attacks the siblings. Gijun accidentally kills himself when Tsurugi dodges his flying kick, causing him to go out of a window, and Nachi is sold into sexual slavery through Renzo Mutaguchi.
Mutaguchi and his associates attempt to hire Tsurugi to kidnap Sarai, the daughter of a recently deceased oil tycoon. Tsurugi refuses after discovering that the gangsters are Yakuza. He escapes, but the Yakuza gangsters resolve to kill Tsurugi as well as kidnap Sarai. Tsurugi immediately seeks out Sarai, who is being protected at the Nippon Seibukan dojo by her uncle, Kendō Masaoka, a Karate master. Tsurugi captures Sarai and challenges the entire dojo to a fight. He brutalizes the rank-and-file students before Masaoka fights him to a standstill—then recognizes him as the half-Chinese son of a karate master he knew long ago. Ultimately, Tsurugi offers to protect Sarai, and Masaoka agrees, against Sarai’s protests. Meanwhile, the Yakuza’s allies in Hong Kong, led by Kowloon boss Dinsau, recruit Shikenbaru to avenge his siblings by killing Tsurugi.
The gangsters make several attempts to kill Tsurugi before they successfully kidnap Sarai. Tsurugi manages to rescue her, but gets captured himself. Rakuda gives up Sarai’s location to save Tsurugi, causing Tsurugi to forsake him. When Tsurugi struggles fighting with a blind samurai working for the Hong Kong gangsters, Rakuda dies by his sword in a reckless attempt at redemption. Tsurugi finally tracks the gangsters down to a shipyard and fights his way through their guards. In the end, Dinsau permits Tsurugi to duel Shikenbaru. Nachi sacrifices herself to give her brother a free shot with a sai, but Tsurugi survives and rips out Shikenbaru’s vocal cords. Critically wounded, Tsurugi is helped to his feet by Sarai and Dinsau in the final shot of the film.
Directed by Shigehiro Ozawa
Written by Kōji Takada and Motohiro Torii
Restored and upscaled by moonflix, LLC
Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba as Takuma (Terry) Tsurugi
Yutaka “Doris” Nakajima as Sarai Chuayut-Hammett
Goichi “Gerald” Yamada as Rakuda (Ratnose) Zhang
Masashi “Milton” Ishibashi as Tateki (Junjo) Shikenbaru
Jirō Chiba as Gijun Shikenbaru
Etsuko “Sue” Shihomi as Nachi Shikenbaru
Masafumi Suzuki as Kendō Masaoka
Nobuo Kawai as Tetsunosuke Tsuchida
Ken Kazama as Senkaku Kan
Yūshiro Sumi as Onaga
Rinichi Yamamoto as Kowloon Dingsau
Fumio Watanabe as Renzō Mutaguchi
Osman Yusuf as Kingstone
Tatsuo Endō as Bayan
Chico Lourant as Bondo
Tony Cetera as Abdul Jadot
Original release date:
February 2, 1974