Sister Street Fighter: Hanging By a Thread features the continuing adventures of Li Koryu (Etsuko Shiomi). After avenging the death of her brother, Koryu returns to Hong Kong where she witnesses the death of a detective with a glass eye. Contained in the hollow eyepiece is film showing woman being trafficked and a familiar face, Berial, a friend and former schoolmate. Heading back to Japan to rescue her friend, Koryu stays with her never before mentioned sister Byakuran and sets out to put an end to the illegal smuggling using her martial arts skills. Finding assistance from the Shorinji Karate Dojo, Koryu takes on all manner of unique fighters using her ferocious female fists of fury!
An odd setup to be sure, Hanging By a Thread has more of what makes the JAC films so great; breakneck pace, tons of action, and that bit of sleaze and exploitation that shows exactly what era of Nippon cinema to which this film belongs. The plot and threads are razor thin and the film serves more to string together action scenes than anything else, but there is an undeniable charm to the proceedings that is difficult to characterize in words. Events seemingly occur arbitrarily but as the characters do not dwell too hard on it, we shouldn’t either. Suffice to say that there is a manic energy and sense of entertainment that is missing in many action films these days, regardless of country of origin.
Fights are well staged and Shiomi, as well as Yasuaki Kurata, get to show off more than a little. The fights are varied and though they get a bit crazy, especially towards the end, the emphasis on real techniques is well based and executed. I did have issue with the overuse of shaky cam during the training room sequence, its dizzying and far to manic to follow completely, but thankfully short.
This installment seeks to go one step beyond the events of the first film and, for the most part, succeeds. It a heck of a good time and is filled with many moments of that odd 70s Japanese sensibility that makes films from this era stand out. While overall a ridiculous premise, and some painful looking smuggling techniques, keep the film from the mainstream sensibility, Hanging By a Thread is a worthy sequel to fans of the first film and one heck of a crazy ride. Genre fans should have little to complain about and while many may turn their nose up at this kind of filmmaking, it is more creative and more fearless than nearly any other movie out there, and for that, this avid moviegoer is thankful.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Sister Street Fighter, The Great Chase, Firecracker, or TNT Jackson