Monday, June 25, 2007

Street Fightin' Sista

Here's one straight from the pages of Otaku USA. This is what it looks like before all the fart jokes are removed, and it's edited into a semi-readable, cohesive piece.

The Sister Street Fighter Series

It’s late at night, and I need a fix; one of those thrilling, chilling, skull-splitting, brain-bashing extravaganzas presented, of course, in 3-Dimensions of DuoVision. One that can only be contained in not a double, but a double-double feature: the four films of fury that are Sister Street Fighter.

I pop in the first flick, the ground shakes, the sounds of belching, loving, and fighting surround me. I look around; rats scurry, hobos sleep, the homeboys from Harlem show up in their kung fu silks. I take a whiff; stale popcorn, over-relished hotdogs, chain-smokers. It’s 42nd street, New York, the year, 1974. How I got here: a mystery. Could be the power of cinema, more likely the noxious fumes I call farts have me hallucinating. A funky tune blares, I look up at the fifty-feet of tattered silver to see waves crash. That’s it, Toei’s got me in their grindhouse baby, and there’s no turning back.

The familiar sound of a raspy snake, ready to strike, takes over the soundtrack. Only this time it’s not a bush-browed nut-cracker, but a girl, cute too. Japan’s one and only female action icon, Etsuko “Sue” Shihomi, a chick so quick she can pierce a fly with a toothpick.

The set-up is rapid fire; ching-chong music lets us know we’re in Hong Kong. Koryu Lee (Shihomi) gets the 411 on her missing brother, an undercover drug agent working the beat in the Japan, and she‘s on the hunt. Backing her up is the sock-it-to-me Shorinji Kenpo school of bad asses, and the original Street Fighter himself, Sonny Chiba. He plays Hibiki, an ex-race car driver, ex-bodyguard, and current bad motherfucker with his own judo-chop to grind. Then it’s sickles to the eye, and karate kicking in the sky, with Muay Thai killers in polka dot dresses, bad dudes with wicker baskets on their heads, and a Mohawk sportin’ dart-blower with a penchant for African fashion. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi isn’t much at shooting karate, but he sure as shit can shoot crazy.

A brief intermission, the Harlem cats ape Chiba’s brutal body movin’. The second feature, Hanging on a Thread, begins and Koryu is doing anything but. She’s up against diamond smugglers movin’ the goods in high class hooker’s asses. Like “in” them, surgically implanted, no butthole stuffing. Running the operation is a master of whip-yo-ass-with-a-golf-club-jitsu, and his back-up: a parrot-parading doctor, his torch-toting tranny girlfriend, and an assortment of karate-killers who are, as Jim Kelley would say, “Straight out of a comic book, man.”

The end credits roll, but before you can say Sho’nuff, the doors crash open, and the Shogun of Harlem appears. But he isn’t looking for Bruce Leroy, he’s here for the return, The Return of Sister Street Fighter. This one’s about smuggling gold through pharmaceuticals, I think. What’s for sure is that Koryu is again up against an army of kung-fools who are less about karate, and more about crazy. This includes series regular Musashi Ishibashi as a cat whose style is apparently Flamenco, and even a screamin’ Zulu warrior.

The crowd thins out, but that’s alright, because Fifth Level Fist isn’t much of a killer anyways. A sequel in name only, O.G Street Fighter director Shigehiro Ozawa takes the reigns and brings in a light crane-kick, instead of the burning back-fist of films past. Even the Shogun of Harlem is snoozing in the aisles, and I might just do the same. Though, it’s been a fun trip, going to the grindhouse, the real one that is, with the big Toei logo and crashing waves to lure you in.

Wes Black

BCI/Ronin Entertainment

Sister Street Fighter
Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread
Sister Street Fighter Returns
Sister Street Fighter: Fifth-Level Fist

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