Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Revenge Is Taken On the Viewer: "Street Fighter's Last Revenge" (1979)

In order to take the series in a new direction, the film makers dropped the rough and tough street fighter motif in favor of some really bad 007 and "Mission: Impossible" stuff.

The simple plot starts when Sonny Chiba gets double crossed by some drug dealers who need two audio tapes in order to create cheap synthetic heroin. He also gets mixed up with a corrupt District Attorney, who kicks Chiba bootay thanks to an ancient Korean martial arts technique. The D.A. is also playing both sides of the fence, and Chiba and D.A. end up bedding one of the hottie girl villainesses. A final showdown between the D.A. and Chiba is good, and an explosive finale kills a major character.

Chiba dons a mask not once but THREE different times, pulling it off like a poor man's Martin Landau. He also has a secret room in his apartment, and sleeps with the villainess. All I could wonder was "what happened to the street fighter?" Instead, Chiba wears disguises from which his identity is discovered anyway. At one point, he has two giant suitcases of money as payment for the heroin recipe tapes. He sleeps with the villainess, who distracts him long enough for the suitcases to be stolen. Did Chiba hide the money elsewhere, knowing the villainess' plan? Did he booby trap the suitcases, knowing the henchmen would be after them? No! Now he has to get the money back again. For an international hitman, scrappy street smart karate expert, and champion of justice, he sure does some stupid things in this film. By the time the Bond-like villain shows up (a guy in a sombrero with lasers hidden up the sleeves of his bull fighting uniform) the film had lost me. A subplot involving an answering service girl who has a crush on Chiba goes nowhere.

This was the last "Street Fighter" entry with Chiba as the main star, but it was followed by the last film of the series: "Sister Street Fighter." Either way, "Street Fighter's Last Revenge" is by far the worst of the first three films. I cannot recommend it. (* *) out of five stars.