Theatrical Release Date: 01 Feb 2005
Home Ent. Release Date: 24 Jan 2005
A martial arts legend, Shinichi ‘Sonny’ Chiba blazed the trail for action films when he starred in the ultra violent Street Fighter movies. Playing the brutal and unscrupulous anti-hero Takuma Tsurugi, Sonny Chiba served up a fresh kind of amoral violence and explosive energy to cinema-goers in the 70s, which has inspired modern filmmakers ever since, most notably Quentin Tarantino. The three films in the cult classic Street Fighter trilogy will be available to own uncut and re-mastered on DVD for the first time ever in the UK. Martial arts exploitation film The Street Fighter was originally released in cinemas in 1974 and its astounding success brought Japanese born Sonny Chiba worldwide fame. Shigehiro Ozawa directed Chiba as animal fighting machine Terry Tsurugi who springs a death row inmate from jail disguised as a Buddhist monk. In the violent events that follow there are some truly memorable over the top action sequences; Tsurugi punching a man in the face so hard his teeth fall out, the famous shot of a lethal head blow shown in X ray, and Tsurugi saving a woman from rape by ripping out a man’s testicles and holding them triumphantly in the air! Not surprisingly, The Street Fighter was the first film released in the US to be given an X rating for violence alone. Following the success of the first Street Fighter, Chiba and Ozawa re-teamed soon after for the 1975 sequel Return of the Streetfighter which packs as many punches as the first. It also goes a step further with innovative handheld camerawork and a fight on a ski slope where Tsurugi hits a man so hard his eyeballs fall out of their sockets. The last instalment in the trilogy is The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge. Directed by Teruo Ishii, contract killer Takuma Tsurugi takes on a variety of disguises in order to recover the formula for making synthetic heroin. As with the other Street Fighter films, there are some unforgettable moments. In one scene, Tsurugi fights a sombrero-wearing villain in a funeral parlour and finishes him off by locking him in the incinerator and burning him to death. The action packed finale has Tsurugi ripping out a man’s still beating heart with his bare hands. The Street Fighter films have had a profound influence on action filmmakers, most notably Quentin Tarantino who rates Chiba as “the greatest actor to ever work in martial arts films” and references Chiba’s films in True Romance and Pulp Fiction. In 2003 Tarantino cast his screen idol in the role of master sword maker Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill, giving Chiba something of a comeback and showcasing his talent to a whole new generation of fans.