24 November 2007 | MartinHafer
Good martial arts action, but don't watch this film for Sonny Chiba
Note--This review is based on an English-dubbed version of this movie. Usually dubbed movies stink compared to subtitled ones, though this one wasn't bad. The worst aspect of the dubbing was the stupid voice they gave Sonny Chiba in a few BRIEF scenes. It just sounded very wimpy.
As for Chiba, there are undoubtedly a lot of "Chiba-philes" out there who will watch this film because it's part of the Street Fighter series. However, be warned, he is barely in the movie at all--appearing briefly three times and amounting to perhaps five minutes on film. I assume either they added Chiba to the film later to cash in on the success of the Street Fighter films or they just paid Chiba for a couple days work because that's all he wanted to do. Regardless, many have unscrupulously marketed this as a Sonny Chiba film, but it really isn't. Plus, what you do see of this great martial artist is far from his best work.
So instead, watch this movie just for its merits without Chiba--which it does have in spades. While not among the very best martial arts films, the action is significantly better compared to the average film from Hong Kong from the same time period. And while the story about drug dealers is just okay (it's really just an excuse for all that kicking and crunching), it's also better than the silly plots of many Hong Kong productions as well. Now I am NOT saying the Hong Kong films aren't fun to watch, but many have the most outlandish plots ever to appear in martial arts films (blind assassins, guys with three foot long tongues, fighting gorillas, etc.). SISTER STREET FIGHTER is much more direct and down to earth--with a very conventional plot and setting.
What was unusual about this film, and I appreciated it, was the collection of both styles and masters in various styles of martial arts. In fact, during one portion of the film, they freeze the frame to tell you who this master is and their style. A nice touch. However, there were also some real odd-balls among these "greats"--such as the guys who wore black baskets on their heads and the ladies who dressed like Fred Flintstone!!! You have to see them to believe it!
My most serious negative is that while the action is good, the lady protagonist's style isn't Chiba's--and she doesn't deliver as many crunching death blows as Chiba--it's more a kinder, gentler version of martial arts. Plus, the plot itself is nothing new and isn't all that engaging. Also, parents take note, there is some nudity in this film as well as the expected violence. Think twice before letting the kids see this one.