The Street Fighter – Blu-ray Review
Available as part of:
Film Title: The Street Fighter
Available as part of: “The Street Fighter Collection”
Release Date: 1974
Runtime: 91 minutes (UNCUT)
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Shout Select (Shout! Factory)
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 03/26/19
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
Cast: Sonny Chiba (Shin’ichi Chiba), Goichi Yamada, Etsuko Shiomi, Fumio Watanabe, Yutaka Nakajima, Masashi Ishibashi, Masafumi Suzuki
“The Street Fighter“ from 1974 was a Japanese martial arts film directed by Shigehiro Ozawa. Ozawa would go on to most notably direct this film’s two sequels and a spin-off’s sequel – “Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist” (1976). The original Japanese screenplay was written by Kôji Takada and Motohiro Torii, with the English version (dub) screenplay adapted by Steve Autrey. The film was originally released in February of 1974 in Japan by Toei Company and it would receive an English dubbed United States release in November of that very same year via New Line Cinema.
The film starred an actor and martial artist named Shin’ichi Chiba whose name would be changed in the United States for the theatrical release (of this film) to Sonny Chiba. This first film, in a trilogy, has the master of karate/fighter for hire “Terry Tsurugi” (Chiba) at first doing business as usual. Terry disguised as a Buddhist monk manages to visit a convicted murderer in prison, set to be put to death later that day. The man is a bit of a master of martial arts himself and the two have a bit of a nice fight to open up the film.
Terry’s loveable sidekick here “Rakuda” / “Ratnose” (Goichi Yamada) comes in at just the right time to help him on his mission. Later, after the two have returned home, they are watching the news and see that a wealthy oil tycoon has just passed away – leaving an heiress. This strikes the interest of Terry, while his sidekick prepares food, but before he can get too deep into thought he’s visited by his last customer. The brother and sister (Etsuko Shiomi) had hired Terry to help their brother escape being executed but don’t have the money to pay for the services. It’s safe to say that our anti-hero here is very displeased and comes up with a less than friendly way of getting his payment.
Along the way, Terry comes across some criminals that turn out to be the Yakuza. They attempt to hire him to kidnap the daughter of the recently deceased oil tycoon, “Saria” (Yutaka Nakajima), to which he refuses once he discovers who they really are. The Yakuza decide that Terry knows too much and revise their plot to instead just used hired fighters to both kill him while they attempt to kidnap the girl themselves. To avoid spoiling any the movie, let’s just say that doesn’t go as they expected. The girl is being guarded by her uncle that happens to not only be a master of karate but also runs his own dojo full of fighters. Getting to the girl will mean getting past her uncle and his students. The only problem is that Terry decides to try to beat the Yakuza to their target.
Film Fact: This was the first film to be given an X Rating by the MPPA for violence at the time. Despite that, what you get here on Blu-ray is the UNCUT version of the film which is UNRATED.
Movie Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“The Street Fighter” is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown during its theatrical releases. This movie was shot on 35mm film using the ActionScope cinematography process according to IDMb.
This comes from two different sources (as stated before the film plays): the first source is a new 2K scan of the English language cut of the film and a previous HD master of the original Japanese version of the film. The color here has been matched almost flawlessly between the two sources. This new 2K scan was done by Warner’s MPI (Motion Picture Imaging) facility using the Lasergraphics Director scanner from an archival color reversal internegative. The film restoration efforts were done by Duplitech.
There’s a very nice amount of film grain visibly left intact here in both sources along with visual imperfections such as specks of dirt, scratches on the film and whatnot. Even at times, you’ll notice some slightly inconsistent quality during scenes transition. It is unapologetic in its attention to leave things preserved. All of this blends together nicely, though. There’s some really impressive detail to be found here all throughout this high definition presentation, especially in facial closeup shots of Sonny Chiba.
Yes, there are admittedly some damaged sections of the film, in a few scenes more than others, but there is no better source material out there to use. To compare this to grindhouse quality would almost be an insult to all of those involved in the new transfer and restoration efforts. Sure, it may look rough in areas but you need to understand that The Street Fighter is a movie that always has been and was intended to be in this visual style. Plus, you have to respect the filmmakers’ work when you do a new transfer or restoration. You don’t clean something like this up more than has been done here. Fans have a certain way they like to see the movies they love and as they’ve seen it in theatres tends to be the most common.
What you get here of the first film in “The Street Fighter Collection” is downright impressive at times while still rough and gritty. This looks just excellent and I’m happy to finally see “The Street Fighter” looking this good. I never honestly expected a martial arts film of this age to look this good. I’m sure some will disagree with me but they probably didn’t even read the Blu-ray credits under extras. A bit of effort was put into combining these two sources to make the best possible version of the film visually available. I’ll end here by saying job well done to everyone involved.
Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Audio here on this Blu-ray is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono in the original Japanese language as well as the original 1974 Theatrical English Dub and the Modern 1990s Home Video English Dub. That’s nice to have two different choices of the English dubs of the film, but my personal choice here is the original Japanese (with English subtitles). Choosing the Japanese isn’t just a choice to be a purist but it also is because you get a much cleaner audio mix with more accurately timed sound effects and such. It is worth noting that an audio restoration was done here on each of the three lossless Mono mixes included for the film.
As mentioned, the Japanese mix seems to be the cleanest and best quality that I’ve found. It offers up the best representation of the dialogue, sound effects, and music. In regards to the English dub mixes: the ’90s mix is a considerable bit louder in comparison to the theatrical English dub. The dialogue (dubbed) and sound effects all sound a bit too over the top for my taste on that rerelease English dub. There’s a noticeable difference here between the English dubs and that’s my real point. Yes, some lines of dialogue have been kept and then some short lines re-recorded with some that aren’t as good in terms of dubbing but that’s your choice. You pick which mix you listen to and if you don’t like one just move on to the other like Goldilocks and the three sound mixes until you find one just right. If I’m in the mood for an English dub I actually end up going with the theatrical mix as it just feels more pleasing to the ears.
Dialogue is delivered more distinct, obviously, in the original Japanese language. You’ll have to read subtitles if you don’t speak Japanese but it’s just a better experience. No matter which mix you pick, be prepared here, it’s going to be that rough mono sound that is associated with classic martial arts film like this. Do not expect this to sound better than the subject matter would allow. I mean, sure it is just mono but that’s what the source material came from and it is after all limited to that.
Shout! Factory has done a really good job here with what they were given to work with. Going as far as to give the consumer three choices of lossless mixes is something worth thanking them for. NOTE: My rating is based primarily on the original (Japanese) language lossless mix.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are presented in HD (high definition) video with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound in both English and Japanese languages – noted accordingly below. Those in Japanese have forced English subtitles. Extras here include the following:
- NEW Interview with Actor Sonny Chiba (27:10 – HD) is in the Japanese language, as you would expect. The martial arts legend is looking rather well these days and has a very positive outlook on life. His reminiscing on making this film along with the other two in this series, as well as Sister Street Fighter, proves to be not only informative but very entertaining. It’s very fun to hear him explain how the head of New Line Cinema changed his name stateside for us theatrical release. He didn’t seem to honestly mind. Chiba discusses how his friend Quentin Tarantino had told him originally that he was going to feature the film in his script to the film True Romance. Sonny goes on to discuss a bit regarding their friendship. He also discusses working on Kill Bill with Tarantino as well as meeting Jackie Chan for the first time. This is a definite must-watch for any fan of this martial arts legend.
- NEW Interview with Trailer Editor/Filmmaker Jack Sholder (13:03 – HD) starts out in the coolest and funniest way I could ever imagine when he mentions that he decided to take some LSD and decided that words no longer mattered. He goes on to explain his early career as an editor, eventually working for New Line Cinema doing the edits of trailers for films. This proves to be very informative about how the film got its stateside release and even includes discussion about the English dub to this and other films.
- United States Theatrical Trailer (2:26 – HD)
- Japanese Theatrical Trailer (3:00 – HD) is in Japanese with forced English subtitles.
- Still Gallery (6:32 – HD) will play as a slideshow and you will have to hit the pause button on your remote to stay on a particular still. Sadly, you cannot skip through images without using fast forward.
- Blu-ray Credits (0:25 – HD) are nice to see included. Here you learn that all of the new 2K scans of the films for this collection were done by Warner’s MPI (Motion Picture Imaging) facilitates using the Lasergraphics Director scanner from an archival color reversal internegative. You also learn that film restoration was done by Duplitech and that audio restoration was done, specifically by Brett Cameron.
Overall the bonus materials prove to be worthwhile as they’re both informative and entertaining. Plus, you get the original U.S. and Japanese theatrical trailers for the film and a nice still gallery of images in high-def. The bonus totals up to roughly about 50 minutes. This is probably the most bonus materials you could really expect to have for this film unless you just put in a retrospective with people that weren’t even involved with the making of it.
I actually consider it a form of extra that you get two English dub lossless audio mixes to choose from. Sure, I like most folks only expected two lossless sound mixes but getting three audio tracks is a bit of an extra feature, in my opinion. That said, these extras are just enough for me personally.
Bonus Materials Rating: 3 (out of 5)
“The Street Fighter” (available as part of “The Street Fighter Collection”) is one of the most classic Japanese martial arts films of the 1970s. It would make the world aware of the legendary Sonny Chiba (Shin’ichi Chiba) and his skills that still hold up to this very day. The film would spawn two sequels “Return of the Street Fighter” and “The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge” that were both released in 1974 originally in Japan. The production company (Toei) responsible would also create a spin-off franchise with “Sister Street Fighter” (1974) the very same year that featuring this film’s star (Chiba) in a co-starring role.
The film comes here to Blu-ray with a combination of source material that blends together for an impressive visual high def presentation. The audio sounds a bit clearer than before now in a lossless mix, with the Japanese mix being the best choice to opt for in terms of quality. You get some newly produced extras here that include an interview with the film’s star, the guy who did the edit of the U.S. theatrical trailer, the original trailers (in HD), and a gallery of images (also in HD). It’s a pretty decent amount of extras for the film.
Keep in mind this is just for the first film out of three films included in this set, so the ratings for those films may perhaps differ in their individual reviews.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this film gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
3 (out of 5) for bonus materials