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Friday, 1 June 2007

Sister Street Fighter (1974) Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Central Export or Central Trading or whatever it's actually called is apparently a really dubious company, populated by professional karate fighters who sell drugs behind a fake front. Lee Long is the Hong Kong police's best agent and he's successfully infiltrated the company but he's disappeared. So the cops guilt trip his sister Tina into taking over and she's promptly on the way to Yokohama to meet up with Fanny Singer at the Club Mandarin. Of course she gets to do plenty of kicking of ass the moment she reaches Yokohama and Fanny Singer is kidnapped the moment she gets to the club, first by the bad guys and then by the Street Fighter, who turns out to be on the side of the good guys.

The plot doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense, but I've seen a lot worse. What matters is that we have Etsuko Shihomi, known in the west as Sue Shiomi, as the lead, and with plenty of opportunity to strut her stuff. There are fights in the bar, fights in the street, fights in the ballet studio, fights everywhere. Even when there's no fighting going on, there's something else going on instead that would appeal to afficionados of '70s kung fu movies.

There are bad guys in black outfits and wicker baskets on their head, bad guys who bed women while wearing sunglasses, bad guys with mohicans shooting budgies through windows with blowpipes, you know the sort of thing. And these are real bad guys, the chief of which keeps his own zoo of killers and a jail in which to keep prisoners to feed with drugs. Moreover he has a long black leather waistcoat and even a fake hand with spikes on it, suspiciously in the same year as Enter the Dragon.

Sue Shiomi is of course a Sonny Chiba regular, as is one of the bad guys, Masashi Ishibashi, Hammerhead here but Junjou in the first two Street Fighter movies. Shiomi was uncredited in The Street Fighter but quickly progressed to her own associated series. It's a shame that she wasn't given the material she deserved, facing asthmatic karate fighters and guys who seem to be doing exercise routines with nunchakus and even amazon kickboxers wearing leopardskin bikinis and papier mache masks. She certainly proves her worth, however poor the material, and so would soon be back for much more, usually alongside Chiba.

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