Shout! Factory Unleashes Sonny Chiba in Classic Kung-Fu of ‘The Street Fighter Collection’

GameStop, Inc.

The Street Fighter Collection

Bruce Lee left an indelible mark on action cinema. He became the face of an entire genre, but his sudden death in 1973 left a gigantic hole in the heart of kung-fu cinema. Then came the flood of imitators and knock-offs. While Sonny Chiba was undoubtedly a beneficiary to the charisma absence left behind by Lee, he could never be referred to as a Bruce Lee imitator. If Bruce Lee was a precision weapon of speed and grace, Sonny Chiba was a wrecking ball. Shout! Factory has just released a trilogy of Chiba’s most famous films with The Street Fighter Collection, bringing restored versions of the violent kung-fu films to Blu-ray. The Street Fighter Collection is assembled with care as it restores these kung-fu classics with all the alternate versions that were previously hard to track down.

The three films in The Street Fighter Collection include The Street Fighter, The Return of the Street Fighter, and The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge. All three of these films were directed by Shigehiro Ozawa and each was released in 1974. It’s safe to say that the people at Toho knew they had a hit on their hands. The trilogy of films covers the adventures of Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi (Chiba) as he navigates an underworld of cops and criminals as well as a number of other martial arts experts.

In a genre that was dominated by characters of extreme discipline, training, and morality, Terry Tsurugi stands out because he’s none of those things. Chiba’s character is an amoral anti-hero, willing to do dirty deeds for the right price. By today’s standards, Chiba’s Tsurugi would be classified as problematic. After all, this is a violent vigilante who even goes as far as to sell one of his enemies into a sex slavery ring. It’s something that you’d never in a million years imagine a Bruce Lee character doing. Despite the many rough and unpleasant edges, Terry Tsurugi can pushed towards making a moral choice, usually after some kind of double cross has reinforced the notion that crime doesn’t pay or that honor among thieves doesn’t really exist.

The selling point for The Street Fighter since its release has always been its violence. The original American release posters sold the film as the first movie to ever get an X rating for its violence alone. For its era, The Street Fighter and its sequels are quite violent with Chiba’s fists exerting incredible damage to his foes. This violent aspect is why so many different cuts of these movies existed, as the producers had to make changes to secure an R rating for The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge. That’s what makes this Shout! Factory edition so indispensible for fans as it collects every available variant on these films and includes them in its three-disc set.

The Street Fighter and its sequels has earned a number of admirers over the years but perhaps none more prominent and vocal than Quentin Tarantino. His script for True Romance has the film’s characters meet at a triple feature of Chiba’s violent chop socky cinema and Tarantino would cast Chiba as Hatori Hanzo in the Kill Bill films. The violence of The Street Fighter and the idea that heroism might require some dirty tactics is obviously something that Tarantino has carried with him throughout his acclaimed filmography.

The Street Fighter Collection is why film lovers look to Shout! Factory when it comes to restoring and reissuing cult oddities. They’ve collected every possible alternate version of these films – some of which have been nigh impossible to find – and put them all in one collection that also presents viewers with the option to watch English language dubbed versions or the original Japanese audio. The Street Fighter films are highly entertaining, violent works of kung-fu cinema but also a valuable historical document as they’re enduring works as to the future of martial arts on the screen in a world without Bruce Lee. The masterful work of Bruce Lee created the craze that would pave the way for Sonny Chiba and The Street Fighter, but Chiba and his collaborators paved their own bloody path that would push the genre forward in new exciting, violent directions.

The Street Fighter Collection
  • Overall Score
5

Summary

Shout! Factory unleashes The Street Fighter Collection, a trilogy of violent kung-fu classics headlined by Sonny Chiba’s amoral anti-hero which is a must-own for lovers of grindhouse movies.

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