Blu-ray Review: Sister Street Fighter Collection

Towards the start of True Romance, Christian Slater takes in a what he calls a triple feature of Street Fighter movies. Included on the bill at the rundown Detroit theater is The Street Fighter, Return of the Street Fighter Returns and Sister Street Fighter. For the longest time this seemed like the whole Street Fighter trilogy. When True Romance came out on video, a Mall chain had a deal with you bought The Street Fighter on SP speed, they’d throw in a tape that included the other two movies at EP speed. Plenty of people in my circle thought this was The Street Fighter trilogy. Why would Quentin Tarantino lie to us? This was a time before you could go on the internet and get almost correct answers. So there was a bit of surprise discovering that not only was there a third Sonny Chiba starring Street Fighter. But there was three more Sister Street Fighter films that had never made it to America. Christian Slater could have had a second marathon night in the theater with Patricia Arquette. Now the Sister Street Fighter Collection finally makes us feel complete in getting to see Etsuko Shihomi as Tina Long (American dub) or Koryu Lee (Japanese version) kick butt on a Sonny Chiba level.

Sister Street Fighter (1974 – 86 minutes) has Koryu discover that her brother has gone missing in Yokohama, Japan. Turns out he was working undercover for the Hong Kong police to infiltrate a heroin ring. The police now want Koryu to find out what went wrong with the mission and see if she can rescue her brother. Because she’s half-Japanese and Chinese, she is able to slide between the two cultures. Turns out the drugs are being run by a very powerful man with extremely colorful army of goons that are willing to kill anyone who wants to spoil the operation. Koryu luckily has a few prime supporters including Sonny Chiba to keep it a fair fight. The movie reunites Etsuko with Sonny. She played the daughter who couldn’t quite fully pay Sonny to break her father out of prison in The Street Fighter. This time the duo are fighting on the same side. Etsuko’s ability to look strong when fighting against a pack of guys made her convincing enough for action audiences that Toei brought out three more films in this series.

Sister Street Fighter: Hanging By A Thread (1974 – 85 minutes) made a few weeks after the original wrapped production. Toei was into making sequels to get the audience back in the theater for more. Once more Koryu is working undercover in Yokohama, Japan. This time instead of drugs, she’s got to bust a diamond ring that is using Chinese women as part of the smuggling operation. They have a very creative way of getting around airport security. Can she handle a case without Sonny Chiba by her side? She’s able to fight a bunch of goons while eating an apple.

The Return Of Sister Street Fighter (1975 – 77 minutes) puts Koryu back on the Hong Kong to Yokohama commuter jet. This time she has company of a young girl who needs to be reunited with her mother. Turns out mom’s job in Japan wasn’t as advertised since the nightclub is more of a brothel and she’s become the girlfriend of the mobster running the entire racket. Koryu shows up at the time that he’s arranging a tournament to the death to find his number one security goon. This is what people had to do before they could just go online and fill out a form. The survivors of the tourney are given the prize of having to track down Koryu and eliminate her from Japan. Can she reunite the little girl with her mother and survive the ultimate hitman?

Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist (1976 – 77 minutes) appears to be a movie called Fifth Level Fist that got tagged with Sister Street Fighter to improve it’s box office fate. Etsuko Shihomi plays a character named Kiku Nakagawa so she’s not Koryu. She’s not working for the Hong Kong police undercover. She does have a mother who wants to see her married to the right kind of guide. There’s no need to complain if this is canon to the Sister Street Fighter series because ultimately it’s another Etsuko Shihomi film and there’s nothing wrong with seeing her wail away on goons. She still finds herself trying to bust a drug ring. Although this film has a bit more humor than the previous three.

The The Sister Street Fighter Collection gives us a great lead in Etsuko Shihomi who is more than a female version of the mercenary Terry Tsurugi. She is able to display emotions unknown to Terry, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of her martial arts skills. Nobody gets only a mild beating when they cross her Koyru character. When they remake True Romance, the “new” version of Christian Slater can spend his birthday at a marathon that starts with Sister Street Fighter and works through all of Koyru’s films.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic on all four films. The transfers are much better than what was experienced on that EP speed tape. The resolution brings out the destruction that Etsuko can serve up. The audio is uncompressed Japanese mono. The R-rated US version featured the English dub for Sister Street Fighter. The movies are subtitled in English.

Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol 3 (10:10) has the action star of Street Fighter discuss how Etsuko Shihomi was part of his acting school that taught students how to become action film stars. She originally wasn’t accepted in the Japan Action Club because the school’s examining board thought she had a boy-ish body. Sonny overruled them and found one of his prized pupils.

Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Kick-Ass Sisters (10:06) has the director talk about what went into each of the three films. He started working at Toei in 1959. He became the studio’s guy for female action films. He speaks warmly of Etsoko’s smile

Masahiro Kakefuda: Subversive Action (10:51) allows the screenwriter to discuss how he crafted the films for Etsoko. He mentions how Toei was doing so much that he could find himself writing for many different genres from gangsters to Gamera to feudal Japan dramas. He liked scripts that took down people in power.

Isolate Score Highlights (11:43) lets you hear the music without all the sound effects. This is also provided for Hanging (19:26) and Return (10:15).

Original Trailer (2:47) lets the folks in Japan know that Etsoko is ready to take on everyone in Sister Street Fighter. It also highlights that she’ll be hanging with Sonny Chiba. But she can hold her own. They also have the trailers for Sister Street Fighter: Hanging By A Thread (2:44), The Return Of Sister Street Fighter (2:57) and Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist (2:57).

Still and Poster Gallery (22:41) includes lobby cards from when it was released as Lady Karate and Die Karate Tiger.

R-Rated Version (81:13) is the US censored cut of Sister Street Fighter.

US Trailer (2:35) sounds like Frankie Crocker is doing the voice over to let us know The Sister Street Fighter doesn’t back down from danger. They even put her name before Sonny Chiba.

German Opening Titles (2:11) lets you know how the folks in Darmstadt took in the glory of Sister Street Fighter. They called the film Die Karate Tiger.

German Trailer (2:35) has the characters talking German. And Die Karate Tiger translates to The Karate Tiger. They didn’t want her to die.

Arrow Video presents Sister Street Fighter Collection. Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi & Shigehiro Ozawa. Starring: Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shiomi, Asao Uchida & Michi Love. Rated: Not Rated. Boxset Contents: 4 movies on 2 Blu-ray discs. Released: March 5, 2019.

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