Due to the strong impression left on the first film, the same creative crew returned for this brazen and highly-enjoyable follow-up that carries on the sensational adventures of detective Li Koryu. Rushed to theaters three months after the original, this wild and utterly frenzied sequel is now part of the complete Sister Street Fighter Collection released by Arrow Films on March 5 in a 2-disc Blu-Ray set.
Buy This Title
After a detective is killed, detective Li Koryu (Etsuko Shihomi, from “Legend of Eight Samurai”) is assigned to look into the case involving the diamond smuggler Kazushige Osone (Hideo Murota, from “Kagemusha”) who lives in Japan. After arriving in Yokohama and meeting her sister Li Ban-
Much like the original, ‘Sister Street Fighter 2’ really shines with its action content. Writers Masahiro Kakefuda and Norifumi Suzuki provide a scenario that favors a nearly relentless pace that exists solely to engage in fight scenes that are designed to show off Etsuko’s martial arts prowess. The initial alley encounter that gets her onto the case, the hijacked car-ride that turns into a brawl in a train-yard with ninjas that escalates onto the train as it pulls out of the station and a rooftop encounter with an opponent, all give strong, thrilling fights.
Even later scenes and encounters, including the brawl at the racetrack or a battle with the henchmen in their nightclub hangout offer up some hard-hitting and enjoyable martial arts battles. As well, the villains aren’t exempt from displaying their fighting skills as well with several demonstrations of their unique skills involving various weaponry and forms of martial arts. That several unique formats are employed in the fights and training montages give this one a lot to like in the action department.
Also as impressive here are the dynamic exploitation elements. Much like before, the continuous funk-driven soundtrack by Shunsuke Kikuchi drives the action with plenty of groovy licks, enhancing the stylized fighting choreography and frenetic hand-held camera-work. As well, the fact that the wounds or direct hits on people result in massive arterial sprays or oozing blood puddles from their mouths, allows for rather graphic kills. With victims being stabbed in the stomach, getting their throats ripped out, impaled through the throat by spears or using knives to rip eyes out, on the surface, there’s some far more graphic and brutal gore to be featured as well as the strong body beatdowns. Also quite enjoyable in this exploitation context is the main plot involving the diamonds being smuggled into the country by being surgically implanted into the buttocks of various prostitutes. This then requires the objects to be shown removed from their nude bodies at their headquarters, without the use of anesthesia during the surgery in a rather fine, cruel twist. Overall, these are more than enough to really like ‘Sister Street Fighter 2.’
There are a few more issues in ‘Sister Street Fighter 2’ than in the original. The first problem is the issue of the crazed scheme at the forefront of the film. There’s never really anything given here as to why the diamonds need to be smuggled in this manner, and the process of doing so causes plenty of issues. The fact that they’re just simply thrown into a hole carved into the buttocks and not sealed inside a container or other form of protection for safe-keeping during the travel is excessively risky. The risk of injury not only to the transport vessel that would require intervention to check on is excessively high, and the manner of just stashing them inside and leaving it runs the further of being dislodged or relocated before removal. These issues are just brought up at the mere suggestion of how Ozone smuggle the diamonds into the country just on the one scene we’re shown here just simply highlights the rushed nature of the story, with plenty of confusing and easily overlooked elements.
Almost as prominent is the fact that this wholly disappears into the third act as it just becomes a relentless onslaught of fights which just highlights how weak the story is.
As well, the rushed nature of the film also stands out in the acting. Etsuko Shihomi as Li Koryu is pretty much the same as before, single-mindedly kicking her way through the endless rounds of thugs without much going for her as she doesn’t have the opportunity for the range she portrayed in the first one. An attack on her sister doesn’t get resolved until the end, which is what sets up her steely determination so it doesn’t really play into the film as much as ‘Sister Street Fighter.’ As well, Yasuaki Kurata as Shunsuke Tsubaki is a poor substitute for Sonny Chiba, who handles the wardrobe right with his leather jacket and shades but doesn’t really have the charisma of Chiba with his flip-flopping character that can’t really be trusted until we get the full revelation at the end. Likewise, the fighting, with his continuous resorting to rabbit-punches, showcases the fact that he doesn’t make contact once with his opponent even though the rest of his moveset isn’t bad. Hideo Murota as Kazushige Osone is the best performer here, with his crazed wide-eyed drug smuggler, but it’s a familiar formula here in that he doesn’t match the crazed performance or eccentricities of the first film.
While on the surface providing pretty much exactly what’s needed in terms of fine martial arts battles and a simplistic story to set that up, ‘Sister Street Fighter 2’ comes off as a lower version of the original in most regards. As it’s still worthwhile and watchable, give this a chance if you’re a fan of the first one or a general film of these kinds of films from that era, while viewers who aren’t into martial arts efforts or weren’t fans of the original should heed caution.