Return of the Street Fighter (1974)

Following the success of The Street Fighter, a sequel was quickly rushed out to capitalize on it.  Shigehiro Ozawa is back as director, Sonny Chiba as well as Terry Tsurugi and much violence ensues - just not as much, nor as interesting as the first movie.

This time around Terry is back to his old habits as a man for hire to take care of special situations, with a new companion in Pin Boke (Yoko Ichiji), a street girl that he has taken in.  He again falls afoul of the mafia, this time by siding with his long time friend Kendo Masaoka (Masafumi Suzuki), who has discovered that a head of rival martial arts school is using a phony charity to raise money not for a new martial arts school, but for the Yakuza.

Tsurugi also finds an unlikely ally in Masaoka's son Kaoru, a police officer who has been trying to prove that the martial arts school charity is a money laundering scheme.  When letters with Kendo's name forged on them arise, proving that other heads of martial arts schools around the world have been strong-armed into giving into the charity, it appears that the case is as good as wrapped up.  However, it turns out that the Yakuza are only puppets for American mafia head Don Costello (Claude Gagnon), who aims for his family to take over all operations in Japan.

Again, it is generally a thin plot on which to hang a number of fight scenes, a few of which are quite good.  Despite the eye popping looking laughably fake these days, the rest of the fight at the ski resort is up there with anything in the first movie, and the climax is wonderful as well.  Also, Junjo (Masashi Ishibashi) is back, and is still hungry for revenge.

The problems with this sequel are that it is surprisingly toned down from the first, has too many flashback scenes to fill in time and Pin Boke manages to be an even more annoying sidekick than Ratnose in the first film.  With him it was whining and simpering, with her it is constantly screeching "Terry!" in an extremely high voice.  Again, I don't know if these characters are as annoying in the original Japanese versions, but the dubbed versions make them unbearable.

The other problem is that this one simply isn't as interesting.  Sonny Chiba makes a great anti-hero, and it's great to have him fighting with Junjo, but none of the villains in this are as striking as the first.  There is nothing like the X-ray shot or the fight with the blind swordsmen from the first.  The rushed quality is persistent throughout. 

If you have seen the first, you will want to see this one, but just be aware that it is nowhere on the same level.

Return of the Street Fighter (1974)
Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Sonny Chiba, Yoko Ichiji, Masafumi Suzuki, Masashi Ishibashi
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa


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