Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review #1,264: 'The Streetfighter's Last Revenge' (1974)

In Tony Scott's True Romance, from a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, Christian Slater's Clare Worley takes his date to the movies to see Sonny Chiba's Streetfighter trilogy. When he is questioned about Chiba's questionable 'heroics', Worley responds that, "he ain't so much a good guy as he is just a bad motherfucker." A long-time fan, Tarantino hits the nail on the head here (he would go on to cast his idol in the Kill Bill films). While Bruce Lee was wowing the world with the speed and agility of the martial arts, Sonny Chiba was demonstrating its brutal, more unforgiving side. In The Streetfighter's Last Revenge, Chiba's anti-hero Takuma Tsurugi is at his most sadistic. He may have punched a guy's eyeballs out of his head in the previous instalment, but here he calmly burns a thug alive in an incinerator.

Much of the appeal of Chiba's movies lies with his sneering approach to the ancient arts, where he is far more comfortable sadistically beating a bad guy to a bloody pulp than he is with finding inner peace. This trilogy-closer has upped his mean streak, and made things a hell of a long weirder. The Streetfighter was excellent, Return of the Streetfighter was passable, and The Streetfighter's Last Revenge comes across as a bunch of scenes discarded from the previous movies for being too bonkers. Not only is Tsurugi a near-unstoppable punch, kick and throw machine, but he now dons Mission: Impossible-esque face masks to disguise his identity, and at one point bears vampire fangs for unexplained reasons. There's also a villain even James Bond would chuckle at: A mafia hitman who dresses like a mariachi with a giant sombrero and shoots invisible laser beams out of his hands.

The plot itself is incredibly simple. Tsurugi is hired to rescue Go Owada (Akira Shioji) from a police riot in exchange for a hefty payment. When he goes to collect his loot, he is handed a bag of cut-up newspaper and is attacked by the Owada family's men. Furious, he decides to take revenge on the gangsters. There's also a stolen tape and a master foe in Kunagami (Koji Wada). Noticeably less violent than the previous entries, this third feature shares more in common with a spy film than the martial arts genre. As a result, it's less fun, and only manages to pique the interest when at its most idiosyncratic and just plain daft. It's also nice to see exploitation icon Reiko Ike in a supporting role as Chiba's wannabe sidekick. But ultimately, Last Revenge stutters through a threadbare story, failing to deliver the sort of gory chopsocky that made the original so wonderful. Clearly the weakest of the trilogy.

Directed by: Shigehiro Ozawa
Starring: Sonny Chiba, Reiko Ike, Etsuko Shiomi, Yutaka Nakamura
Country: Japan

Rating: **

Tom Gillespie

The Streetfighter's Last Revenge (1974) on IMDb

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...