Being more or less the second sequel to The Street Fighter, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge was released in the same year, 1974… those schlockmeisters certainly didn’t mess about when they knew they were onto a good thing. And a very good thing it is, too. This immensely enjoyable entry into the 70s grindhouse hall of ill-fame benefits greatly from Sonny Chiba’s uniquely goofy charisma.
The story, which involves a gang’s extortion of a corrupt public official, tapes containing a top secret heroin formula, lots of Mission Impossible-style rubber masks, and the main character’s quest for copious amounts of money, continues the Street Fighter series’ refreshingly amoral abandonment of the noble hero on a mission in favour of a mercenary anti-hero who makes it very damn obvious that he enjoys his work. Tsurugi is the ultimate exploitation protagonist: an unapologetic sadist psycho who sleeps with femmes fatale he knows are only going to betray him and hams it up in fight scenes to an extent that would make Bruce Lee cough in embarrassment.
The amazing wackiness at every level of this movie is a sight to behold. One of my favourite bits involves a carload of baddies discussing how they are unsure that our hero is dead because they never found his body… one of them even mentions that he knows Tsurugi can disguise himself as a police officer. As if on cue, their car is pulled over by an apparent policeman and they are obliviously led to a nice secluded junkyard for a thorough ass-whupping. I had to rewind this scene to make sure I hadn’t missed something: I hadn’t, it really was that dopey.
I doubt I need to recommend this movie to anyone who has ever heard of it, chances are very good that you already know whether it’s up your alley or not. But just in case you do need a little more convincing: did I mention that there’s a henchman who dresses like one of the Three Amigos, complete with the overly filigreed sombrero, that he speaks with what seems to be a New Zealand accent, and is played by the worst actor in the history of cinema? Well, actually I needn’t have mentioned it. Such a character is only logical by this movie’s standards.