The first time I watched the original Street Fighter, which wasn't really that long ago, I said to myself, "How the fuck did I pass up something QT suggested to me so long ago?" Being the fan of Hong Kong cinema that I am, I felt that I had committed a crime against humanity by not exposing myself to Sonny Chiba years ago. Not only did this movie have all the best elements of HK Kung-FU (action,revenge,ridiculousness,ect)it also had some of my most prized elements of exploitation cinema, like gore and a soundtrack that could put a blaxploitation piece to shame. From then on I have out after as many Sonny Chiba movies, even going all the way back to the Golden Bat. For some reason, I wanted to hold out on watching Return of the Street Fighter. I think, deep down ,I know that sequels hardly ever hold a candle to the original and I didn't want to have my image of Terry Tsurugi knocked down off the pedestal I put him on.
Well I finally watched it, and Tsurugi is still on the pedestal, but grappling by his fingers.
The plot is pretty close to the original and I can be summed up in under a paragraph. Terry gets hired for a job. Terry completes job flawlessly with maximum damage. Said contractors Terry to do another job. Terry refuses for moral reasons. Terry is pursued by said contractors aka mafia-fronted corporation. Terry almost dies, comes back with a vengeance, and kicks the living shit out of everyone. Fin.
It sounds like it could be as awesome as the original, but there were several points I would like to make as to why it wasn't.
1.Sidekick: During the original, we had the bumbling sidekick, who helped liven up the serious of Chiba's straight guy with comedic elements. It's unfortunate that character got killed, because he was far better than the hip, young female annoyance that played the part in this flick. Not only was she not funny, but whoever voiced the dub-over needs to have a fuckin' hole poke into her neck with a two-fingered death move. They should have brought back a new bumbling, fat man.
2.Flahbacks: If your going to give me arty, B+W flashbacks, keep them to a couple seconds here and there. There is really no reason to flashback entire action sequences from the first movie. At times, I felt it was going to get as bad as The Hills Have Eyes 2, which is one of the biggest atrocities in horror. If I wanted long flashbacks, I would drop a large some of money on a sheet of Purple Jesus, but I won't, so keep the flashbacks to a minimum.
3.Regurgitated Villains: Did they really need to bring back the criminal from the first movie? Seriously, if your throat gets ripped out by Sonny Chiba, you should be dead forever. No technological advancement can bring you back from that back in 1974. It probably couldn't even be done today. I don't care how much money you have. No way, No How!!!
4:Shoddy camera work: I'm assuming Michael J. Fox was not the cameraman, but if he was, he would have problem done a better job. There is no reason to shake the camera so much during action sequences, it doesn't add to the excitement of a karate fight. That shit might work for a giant monster attack (not!!)but it just confuses the action sequences in a martial arts flick.
Despite starting out with the negative aspects of the movie, I didn't hate it. There was actually enough awesomeness in it to keep me awake and enjoying it. First off, Sonny Chiba was in it and he kicks ass. By itself, that's all I really need to enjoy the movie. Despite the camera work, some of the fight sequences were fucking amazing. The spa episode was bar far my favorite seconded by the police station. And the movie does try to stay true to the first in keeping with the level of grotesque kills. I learned that Chiba's hits WILL cause eyes to leave the skull.
I would recommend Return of the Street Fighter for any martial arts or Sonny Chiba fans. If you have seen and loved the original, don't go into it expecting the same level of greatness, but don't discount it either. It is still an entertaining action movie.