Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Starring: Etsuko Shihomi, Sonny Chiba, Emi Hayakawa, Hiroshi Kondo, Bin Amatsu
Sister Street Fighter revolves around Li Koryu (Etsuko Shiomo) a master martial artist who has come to Japan to find her missing brother, Mansei (Miyauchi Hiroshi). When she discovers that he’s been taken captive by criminal and drug baron Kakuzaki (Bin Amatsu), she sets out to free her brother. Joined by karate experts Hibiki (Sonny Chiba) and Emi (Emi Hayakawa), Koryu faces Kakuzaki’s bevy of colorful martial artist bodyguards and unleashes her deadly karate skills to utterly destroy evil!
Despite the title’s seeming connection to the wildly popular Street Fighter film series starring Sonny Chiba, Sister Street Fighter is more of a spiritual successor and carries on many of the themes and conventions of that series. Indeed, Chiba also plays a karate expert here, but also a different character. The film itself is fun and wild in the way only JAC films tend to be: crazy villains, wild deaths, a bit of sleaze, and lots of suspension of disbelief. Borrowing more than a few elements from the legendary Enter the Dragon, released just a year earlier, it’s a mishmash of ideas that somehow forms a narrative that while not always cohesive, lends itself well to mayhem on the screen.
Shiomi is the firm star here, and though there are many different characters that help on her journey, she proves an irresistible female action star. Her screen fighting is good and she sells the techniques well. Not only does more than fill the role of action star, she also fills out her numerous ethnic costumes well. Chiba himself is actually relegated to supporting duty though he has a couple really good fights. Rounding out the cast is Emi Hayakawa, also known as “the other girl in the JAC,” and the expected turn as villain by Masashi Ishibashi, and you have a pretty recognizable crew with a number of years collaborating together. The martial artist guards should be given some notice as well for their laugh out loud looks and cartoony posturing. I particularly have a bit of affinity for the crazy haired red-clad nunchaku user and the supposedly Amazon fighters who wear masks to clearly hide the presence of male stunt actors.
The film looks as good as can be expected for a film produced around this era in a genre that remained profitable with the relative inexpensiveness that goes with the production. Sets are reused from many other films and longtime fans will take comfort in the presence of the house where many of these final showdowns seem to take place as well as the seaside cliffs which seem to appear out of nowhere to provide silhouetted fights. I enjoyed the music very much, it is classic disco and fight music. Helping to set the tone of the film, the score is full of good transitions and quirky sounds to keep you interested.
Sister Street Fighter is not really a great film. It is a hugely entertaining action film with much better than average Japanese style martial arts and a sense of fun infused throughout. Probably a hard sell for those not familiar with these types of films, it is a heck of a lot of fun and a film that I always enjoy revisiting.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: The Executioner, Dragon Princess, Tatakae! Dragon!