Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Sister Street Fighter (1974)

Sister Street Fighter is a movie I took a while to warm to. I love the Shaw Brothers costume martial arts epics from Hong Kong but martial arts movies in contemporary setting I’m not quite so sure about.

This one is a Japanese rather than a Hong Kong production, and it’s the first Sonny Chiba movie I’ve seen. In fact he plays more of a supporting role with Etsuko Shihomi taking centre stage.

The plot is a standard martial arts revenge plot. An undercover cop has disappeared and the police ask his sister for help. Luckily the sister is a karate expert and she’s keen to assist. You don’t really need to know much more about the plot. What matters in this kind of movie are the action sequences, the style, and (for bonus points) the weirdness factor.

The movie scores pretty well on action. There’s certainly plenty of it.

As for the other key factors, it took a while but this film eventually delivered the goods. As it progresses it gets more and more over-the-top and more and more goofy. And I started to like it more and more. By the time the leopard-print-wearing Thai kickboxing amazon warriors arrived on the scene I was pretty much won over.

The acting is, well it’s pretty basic, but it’s not a movie that makes great demands on actors aside from the ability to do action scenes and stunts.

The Region 4 DVD is fairly rough. Picture quality is OK but definitely on the grainy and muddy side.

I you love martial arts movies you’ve already seen this movie. If you don’t then it’s probably not the ideal introduction to the genre, especially given the indifferent quality of the DVD release.


Samuel Wilson said...

My own response to this one was fairly ambivalent. As you note, the action and gore went to a cartoonish level that kind of diminished the film for me, but I liked enough of what I saw to get the four-film Region 1 set when it appeared in a bargain bin. Shihomi plays the same character in only three of these, while the fourth is more of a thematic sequel. I also enjoy Sonny Chiba's films for Toei, but Kenji Fukasaku's yakuza films are the studio's real selling point.

cblaze said...

This is one of my favorites of the genre - it's over the top fun in many aspects - and the eye patched knife master made me laugh thinking about how he became a one-eyed knife master... Unfortunately the sequels are nearly exactly the same - down to the sets.