Sister Street Fighter (1974)
Returning from the wilds of an 18 month sabbatical, the Million Monkey Theater is back in business! Woo-hoo!
This review is of the chopsocky thriller Sister Street Fighter from 1974. This Japanese action film is the unofficial sequel to The Street Fighter from earlier in the same year, and is filled with much of the same type of frenetic and violent kung-fu fighting. Much love!
I found this on ultra-cheapy DVD from Saint Clair Vision, purveyors of fine public domain trash. The print's digital quality is fairly rough, bordering on unacceptable, but for the age of the film I guess I shouldn't complain. The sound is pretty clear and the English dubbing is good enough not to be too noticeable.
And now on to our show...
The young heroine of our movie is Tina Long, played by 18-year old Etsuko Shihomi. Shihomi is one of those killer Japanese chicks who looks so cute and submissive until she kicks you in the face and stabs you in the heart. She's young, athletic, and kinda cute, but not as cute as you might expect for a leading lady. Probably all those sparing whacks to the head over the years. Her outfits for this movie consist of mainly loose-fitting Chinese pajamas, with flat gym shoes and blousy sleeves, perfect for high kicks to the throat and flipping bad dudes.
We open in Hong Kong, where apparently Tina lives now. The locations in this movie are not clearly stated, and for most of the first time I watched it I was sure all the action was taking place in Hong Kong. Only later did I realize that, while this short opening scene is in Hong Kong, the entire rest of the movie takes place in Japan.
Tina is called down to HK police HQ, and briefed by an balding paunchy police officer. The man wears goofy-ass shorts and high socks, a riding crop (!), and a pair of glasses with a chain that hangs down across his face most annoyingly, the first of many questionable fashion statements this movie has for us.
The police talk to Tina.
The policeman tells Tina that her brother, internationally known karate champion Lee Long, was actually an undercover agent with the Hong Kong police. He was working on a big bust up in Japan when he disappeared, and now they need Tina's help.
The policeman tells Tina that she's his only hope now, the only one who can find him. They make it sound like the Japanese police are powerless to intervene, and the Hong Kong police have no jurisdiction in Japan (which they don't), so Tina is pretty much on her own as a private citizen out to do some public service work. The policeman intones, "You have no choice if you love your brother."
Anyway, Tina agrees to go back to Japan (her childhood home) and look for her brother. The policeman tells her to go to the Cafe Mandarin in Yokohama, and there meet an exotic dancer (also an undercover HK police agent) who will be her contact. He says to look for the "woman with the rose", that's how she will know who to talk to.
Yokohama is the port of Tokyo, a rough and tumble industrial city known for violence and gangsters. Sort of like Philadelphia in the 1980s, or some of the nastier areas around Los Angeles Harbor.
I'm going to cheat now and tell you about the bad guy gang that is holding Lee captive. Central Trader, Co. Ltd. is a front for a drug-smuggling operation run out of Yokohama. It's a large and well-funded group, with their hands in all sorts of nefarious criminal activities. Their base is a huge sprawling seaside compound/mansion.
The gang's leader is named Koki. Like American mafia bosses, he clearly has a veneer of legal business to keep the cops at bay, but is totally evil and despicable. He has some martial arts skills (of course) and his main weapon is this Wolverine-style hand-claw thingie that he whips out to impress the ladies. I'll call him the "Kingpin", there will be a lot of names in this movie and we need to keep them all straight. He also looks just like embattled North Korean leader Kim Il Jong, or maybe Oakland Raider's owner Al Davis, both evil and corupt men bent on domination through ruinous enterprises and questionable financial extravagances.
Imagine a mutant cross...
So, Tina soon arrives in Yokohama, where she's first supposed to meet up with her cousins, who will take her to see her Uncle, who she will be staying with while in Japan. She's to meet them in a seedy noodle bar down by the docks (suggesting that Tina came to Japan on a ship instead of flying), the kind of place frequented by scruffy sailors and longshoremen. Being young and attractive, Tina's entrance brings a unwanted swarm of haven't-seen-a-woman-in-months sailors to her side. They flirt with her, harass her and generally act ungentlemanly. We have Hawaiian Shirt Dude, Gay Sailor Cap Dude, Peace Sign T-Shirt Dude, Grey T-Shirt Dude, Motorcycle Cop Glasses Dude, Toothpick Chewing Dude, and Random Dead Meat Dude.
Tina about to go crazy-ass on some dudes.
Tina, in the first of numerous scenes designed to showcase her ass-kicking prowess, mangles the sailors in a swift flurry of jabbing elbows, thrusting palms and swinging high kicks. She also shows us a humorous side, as she first skewers a few flies with chopsticks (!), tossing them into the mouths and noses of her assailants before driving her foot into their faces to finish it.
At the tail end of the fight, in comes Tina's cousins, a boy and a girl named (sadly) Jerry and Randy. The Boy Cousin (Jerry) starts to fight alongside Tina, showing that martial arts runs in the family. Girl Cousin (Randy) also has some fighting talent, though her main skill seems to be looking cute.
And yes, this is going to be one of those movies that virtually everyone has some degree of karate skill. From watching these types of movies, you'd have the mistaken impression that every single person of Asian extract can execute a flying side-kick and handle a variety of ninja weapons with aplomb.
The final tally for the 1:30 minute long fight is:
Tina and cousins 7
Drunken sailors 0
They all then go to meet Tina's Uncle and catch up. Boy Cousin and Girl Cousin are his kids. It seems that Tina has been away from Japan for a long time, as all of the Uncle's stories are about her as a young child. They also note that Tina is "well known in Japan, a real celebrity", which makes her efforts to secretly infiltrate the Japanese mafia gang later kind of suspect.
So Tina goes to "Club Mandarin", which is your typical smoky and sleazy nightclub, frequented by gangsters, drunks and hookers. We watch a skinny girl dancing on stage and see her take off her top and flash us, and the dozens of lecherous men in the club, her small but perky boobs. This girl would never find work in an American club, which favor big, plastic, bouncy, fake boobs on their strippers. Not that I would know. I heard that somewhere. Really.
Anyway, despite the seemingly-high percentage chance of numerous women having roses tattooed on their bodies, or carrying a rose, or wearing something with a rose pattern, Tina rather quickly spots a dancer with a rose tattoo on her leg and deduces that she's the one. This woman is fairly unattractive, with a scuzzy barfly look to her, and will prove to be named Fanny Singer (ha).
Fanny Singer, later on.
Fanny and Tina exchange some signs and arched eyebrows and they make to leave together. Before they can exit, however, a gaggle of toughs stop Fanny and accuse her (rightfully) of being a police spy! These are the Kingpin's men, and they mean to haul Fanny off to their boss for some unpleasantness. Tina jumps in and in the soggy cramped alley behind the club, engages in a running kung-fu battle with the men as they attempt to get Fanny to a car to whisk her away. This kind of tight-quarters fight is well done here, though much better done in the vastly underrated The Transporter.
One of the bad guys Tina has to deal with here is swinging this nasty-looking sickle on a long chain. This will prove to be "Tessin the Sickle-user", the first of many "named villain" that she will have to defeat in this film (whose name is later artfully shown on a freeze-frame, a trick which will be repeated numerous times in this movie when we meet people and might very well be the defining visual signature of Sister Street Fighter). And beat him she does, even wounding him in the forehead with his own sickle. Her other four opponents are Tall Suited Dude, Surprising Nimble Dude, Likes To Slap Girls Dude and Bad Flowered Tie Dude.
Final score of this 1:18 minute long fight is:
Assorted gangster thugs 0
Having been held up with the above fight, Tina is unable to keep some other dudes from shoving Fanny in the back of a late '60s Toyota Crown Deluxe sedan and driving off. But before they get too far, some empty oil drums come rolling out in front of the car, forcing them to stop. Once the thugs get out to move the drums, they are attacked by a tall Japanese man. The attacker will prove to be named Sonny (more later). In short order, he disables all four men in the car and then gets in and drives away. Tina witnesses the above fight from a distance (she doesn't recognize the attacker).
Off now to the bare-bones office of "Central Trader Co." in a high-rise tower. We see a couple of the thugs who screwed up the Fanny kidnap nursing their wounds. Giving them verbal hell for their ineptitude is Throwing Dart Dude, who is the Kingpin's second in command (yet strangely never gets an onscreen title card). He's always very well dressed in a full suit and tie and looks a lot like Yul Brenner in Westworld. His main weapons are these six-inch long metal throwing darts, though he also cheats later and has a pistol.
Throwing Dart Dude.
Suddenly the door is tossed open and in walks a hulking gaunt Samurai-looking guy dressed like a character from a Kurosawa period film. With him are five guys wearing black ninja suits with big wicker baskets on their heads (!). What the hell?
The Bucket Heads need some explaining. Way back during the Edo Period of feudal Japan, a group of itinerate wandering preachers known as Komaso was formed from masterless Samurai. Komaso means "priests of emptiness and nothingness", and to symbolize their detachment from the world, they wore wicker baskets called tengai on their heads.
A Komaso priest playing a flute for alms.
Their leader is named Hammerhead and is played by 41-year old Masashi Ishibashi, who played a similar character named Junjo in The Street Fighter and The Return of the Street Fighter. His role in our movie has no connection to those, however. Hammerhead states his intention to kill Tina, though we never really learn his motivations. He's pissed at her brother's karate school, and some oblique dialogue suggests that maybe Lee or someone else at his school beat Hammerhead in some karate championship. As such, Hammerhead is looking to get in the good graces of the gang as a way of seeking revenge. He states, "There is only room for one true champion!".
We go now to the object of Hammerhead's unending rage, the Shorinji Karate School, where Lee Long was a student and later a teacher (though Tina has no association with the school). We're somewhat shocked to see that the School's emblem is a Nazi Swastika! Well, really it's a Japanese character that means a Buddhist temple. When written it looks only a bit like a Swastika, but when "artistically rendered" in patches on the School's uniforms and on flags on the walls, it really becomes a late-1930s German National Socialist Party Swastika. How no one attached to this production thought this would be a problem is not surprising, as the symbol has been in common use in Asia for thousands of year.
A "swastika" symbol on a modern Japanese religious alter. Don't send me emails.
Tina and the School's master discuss her missing brother over tea. The Master pledges that all his many dozens of students (who are said to be "strong and fearless") will help her find Lee, no matter what (though later we see that only two actually offer any concrete assistance to her). The Master is an older rotund dude with a smarmy I-could-kick-your-ass-but-it-wouldn't-be-honorable-to-pick-on-wimps sort of attitude, who is about 15 years past his prime. For some reason he reminds me of Rex Kwon Do from Napoleon Dynamite.
"So, Tina, you are interested in joining the Nazi Party, eh?"
So Tina and the Master take a walk through the School compound to meet some of the students. They first meet a young woman named Emi Kawasaki, who's currently sparing with a teacher. Tina instantly recognizes the teacher as the man who saved Fanny the other night! Indeed, the Master introduces Tina to Sonny Kawasaka, and they share a mutual admiration right off. Don't look for any romance, though, because they are really in very few scenes together after this.
Sonny is played by 35-year old Sonny Chiba, a near-mythical martial artist and prolific actor. Sonny has a easy and fluid fighting method, seeming to use as little energy as necessary, but able to explode with ferocity when needed. He was the Jet Li of his generation, and that's about all you have to say on that.
Emi is a short, petite girl who fights like a whirling dervish with Farrah Fawcett hair. I actually enjoyed watching her fight scenes more than those with Tina. These two girls will work together as a team for much of the remainder of the movie, and they indeed make a pretty pair. Emi is played by 19-year old Emi Hayakawa, another young martial arts prodigy who would specialize in Shaolin Kung-Fu during her film career.
Emi, there on the left.
Ok, Sonny tells Tina that Fanny is safe, set up in a studio apartment above a dance academy somewhere. To there we go now, first to the dance floor where we see about ten attractive young ballerinas-in-training practicing with a tall woman wearing a white leotard. The music the ballerinas practice to is Ponchielli's classic Dance of the Hours, which 99.9% of people will recognize only as Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" camp song.
Tina goes upstairs to see Fanny, and the two women talk about what happened to Tina's brother. Fanny does the voice-over narration to a flashback scene, wherein Lee sneaks into the Kingpin's compound to try and find a big shipment of drugs.
Lee is sneaky, or as sneaky as can be in bell bottom jeans and floppy greasy 1970s hair, but his movements are being tracked by the Kingpin's closed-circuit TV monitoring system. As such, he's easily cornered down in the basement by a bunch of henchmen, who beat him up badly and take him captive. We also see in this flashback that Fanny was working deep undercover as a moll floozy for the Kingpin (we see her boobs here, as she rolls around on the bed with the Kingpin, trying unsuccessfully to distract him from seeing Lee on the monitors).
You see a lot of this kind of topless, blurry, unexciting porn in this movie.
Fanny then gives Tina this fancy watch on a chain, which used to belong to Lee. He asked Fanny it give it to his sister. Keep this trinket in mind, it will come back later.
Suddenly, perhaps way too suddenly, Fanny begins to freak out, man! She starts bouncing off the walls, thrashing around the bed and generally channeling a Cyndi Lauper video. She screams that she needs heroin, and lots of it! I don't know much about heroin addiction, but I don't think it just drives you insane in a snap like that. Maybe it does, who knows? Anyway, Fanny's jonesing for the drug is cut short when she gets too close to the open window. A six-inch steel dart sails in a embeds itself in her chest, knocking her backwards to the floor.
Right before Fanny takes the dart, however, Tina hears a ruckus downstairs and runs out. We see that the dance school has some visitors, the Bucket Heads! Somehow (later facts never explain) they knew where Fanny was being held and have come to take her. The dance students scatter for cover, but the Head Ballerina (don't know what else to call her) stands her ground. The Head Ballerina, of course, a martial arts master as well as a kick-ass dancer. An on screen card tells us that she is named "Shinobu Kojo, Karate of the Ryukyu School".
The Head Ballerina, possibly the hottest girl in our movie.
Another group fu-fight develops now, the Head Ballerina quickly joined by Tina as they battle the six Bucket Heads. Without too much trouble, the two women thrash the Bucket Heads with extreme vigor and send them packing, stumbling out the door nursing their bruises and contusions (they might have done better had they left their baskets on, might have stopped some of those face punches from hurting so much). This will be the last time we see the Head Ballerina chick, however, which is a bit of a shame.
The final tally for this 2:00 minute long fight:
Tina and Head Ballerina 6
Basket Heads 0
The fight downstairs now over, Tina rushes back upstairs, only to find Fanny dead with the dart in her chest. As she enters the room, two more darts zip in, one thwacking into a pole and the other lancing a bird in a cage (!). Tina wisely ducks for cover, but then (rather stupidly) pokes her head out to see who shot the dart. Up on the rooftop of the building across the alley is a man with a Mohawk hairdo, a cape, and carrying a shield! Another freeze-frame card tells us this is "Tettoso, Blowgun of the Takasago School". For whatever reason, Blowgun Dude runs away, even though he seemingly had the upper hand. Perhaps he was only here to make sure Fanny was dead, but it does seem a bit wimpish on his part.
In an interlude, Emi comes to meet with Tina at a waterfront park (why didn't they just talk at the school? Emi is in "civilian" clothes, so maybe this is after class hours). Emi drives a cool white VW Beetle, a favorite car of mine.
Emi and Tina talk about things, like honor and duty and kicking and stuff. Emi will help Tina find her brother, which is nice. Then the two girls engage in some playful sparing, ending with the two of them giggling and smiling. For just the briefest of moments, when they ended up holding hands and looking into each other eyes and snickering, my latent Asian Lesbian Meter pegged off the chart. But, most sadly, it was not to be.
In the process of the spar, however, the watch that Fanny gave Tina is broken. Inside, they find a lock of human hair! This is a clue, people.
Alright, back to the Kingpin's compound where we get to know a bit more about him. First off, he's filthy rich, as evidenced by his sprawling palatial multi-story estate, complete with Olympic-sized pool and dozens of hired staff. His main moll is pretty hot here in a red bikini. We see the Kingpin also has a bunch of hired killers on the payroll, all specializing in unique ways of maiming and murdering. He calls them his "collection of killers." and says that "I don't have any hobbies, I don't like racehorses, so I keep killers."
We get a series of shots of some of these thugs, with those artful screen captions. I will detail them as they appear during the course of the movie. The only one who is shown here who never appears again is "Eva Parrish, Karate champion of Australia", which is a crying shame as we don't have a single girl-girl catfight in this entire movie.
Hammerhead and his gang of Bucket Heads arrives now, so that he can talk to the Kingpin about some work. It's never really clarified, but Hammerhead apparently needs cash to set up a new gym for his rival karate school, so that he can compete with the Master's Swastika School. In return for killing off Tina (and certainly other such strongarm tasks) the Kingpin will bankroll Hammerhead's new school. I guess a fundraiser is out of the question? Maybe ask for a bond referendum?
Hammerhead has some anger issues, and he and the Kingpin nearly come to blows over some inferred insult to Hammerhead's mojo. The Bucket Heads and the Kingpin's killers line up to do battle, but the Kingpin diffuses the tension with a laugh. Hammerhead has guts and that impresses the Kingpin more than anything.
That bit of testosterone-fueled silliness over, the Kingpin and Hammerhead go inside and talk some more. The Kingpin shows him his brilliant plan to sneak heroin into Japan, using ladies hair wigs soaked in liquid heroin!
Clowns scare me.
He also shows him on a video monitor the scene from the basement, where Tina's brother Lee is being held captive in a cell. The Kingpin boasts that he's killing Lee slowly by injecting him with nasty cocktails of opium and heroin, which has left the man a drooling vegetable incapable of even brushing his hair. As Lee is from his hated enemies, the Swastika School, Hammerhead is delighted to see him suffer.
As they talk, they notice on the compound's perimeter security cameras that someone is trying to sneak into the house. It's Tina, now attempting a penetration of Koki's fortified compound. In broad daylight, mind you, without backup or any serious effort at concealing her movements. She just walks up to a point along the cyclone fence and jumps over. And by jumps over, I mean seriously violates all known laws of physics and biology by somehow launching herself over a fifteen-foot high fence topped with barbed wire to land on her feet unharmed. At this point this movie turned plain silly to me, and I never took it seriously after this scene.
Anyway, Tina is barely over the fence when she's surrounded by half a dozen guards who demand to know her identification and intentions. She's stalling for time when Hammerhead enters the scene, and he knows exactly who she is and what she's here for.
Suddenly (and I mean suddenly, suggesting a lengthy editing cut here), Hammerhead and Tina are fighting along a narrow footbridge connecting a rocky promontory with a small offshore island. This location shows up later in the movie and I assume it's relatively close to the Kingpin's compound. They fight out onto the center of the bridge, Tina taking some heavy hits and clearly loosing the fight. Hammerhead stops long enough to boast that Tina's brother is still alive, before unleashing a furious barrage of fists and kicks on Tina.
Forced off the bridge, Tina (well, actually a very fake-looking dummy dressed up like Tina) falls about fifty feet down into the ocean surf. As Hammerhead later is confidant of her demise, bragging of his success to the Kingpin, I assume he waited around to see if she resurfaced. Is this the end of Tina? We shall see...
The final tally for this 1:38 minute fight is:
Now we go back into the Kingpin's compound where Hammerhead is bragging about killing Tina, "She was no match for me". Hmm...we now see that the Uncle (!) is here to get an audience with the Kingpin. An explanation will come several scenes later (though it's really needed here to keep us from wondering too much what's happening) but I will tell you now. It seems that the Uncle has in fact been working for the Kingpin all along! He got into some money troubles recently and had to turn to the Kingpin for a loan, which in the gangster world means you are now part of the system.
The Uncle has brought some cookies (!) for his nephew (Lee), who he knows is held down in the basement. However, it's discovered that he put a note in them that says "Tina will save you", which gets the Uncle beat up by the Kingpin for his trouble. Instead of killing the old man, however, the bad guys decide to force him to help them catch and kill Tina. More on this later.
Now we go down to the Yokohama docks at night, where we see a truck hauling a load of the Kingpin's heroin-soaked wigs heading off to some undisclosed locale. We don't know how much time has passed, but some internal references suggest only a day or so since Tina was killed. We see that Emi is on scene, determined to find up what's up with the bad guys and their loot. She leaps in a thumps a few guys around and checks the crates of wigs. Sniffing and then pulling out a strand and tasting it (!) she realizes they are being used to hide drugs.
Emi tries to steal the truck, but is cut off in her escape by two car-loads of bad guys. Instead of trying to ram her way through (which she should have done, big heavy Mitsubishi cargo truck versus flimsy 1970s Toyota Corolla...) she jumps out of the cab and starts swinging away. Badly outnumbered nine to one, it looks bad for Emi. Even worse when Throwing Dart Dude (who has been here overseeing the shipment), pulls a Indiana Jones and draws a .45 on Emi. Firing two shots, which Emi incredibly twists out of the way of, they burrow into the engine of the cargo truck. Bursting into fire, the truck begins to billow smoke and flame. Their heroin-soaked wigs in danger of going up in psycodelic flames, they forget Emi for the moment and rush to "Save the wigs!".
Suddenly, who should come swinging into the action on a rope (!)? It's Tina! I guess the reports of her death were greatly exaggerated, because she looks pretty lively here. No explanation is ever given as to how she survived that wicked fall from the bridge, she has no injuries and no one else seems to know she was here. She's now dressed in an outfit similar to the ones at the Swastika School, so I assume that's where she's been. Regardless, Tina saves Emi from potential harm, flailing and windmilling into the group, sending thugs crashing into walls and over barrels. Their opponents here are Throwing Dart Dude, Looks Like Newman On Seinfeld Dude, Tall For A Japanese Dude, Coat Like Mister Rogers Dude, Random Dude #1, Random Dude #2, Random Dude #3, Random Dude #4, and Random Dude #5.
In the end, the girls thump all the bad guys, including Throwing Dart Dude, who can't hit the side of a barn with his pistol. Tina and Emi then steal a car from the thugs and speed off, presumably back to the Karate School to freshen up and count their hits.
The final tally for this 47 second long fight is:
Tina and Emi 9
Assorted gangster thugs 0
Word of Tina's aliveness is phoned in to the Kingpin, who is royally pissed. Hammerhead now looks like quite the fool, after having spend the last few days bragging endlessly about how he killed her. Hammerhead begs for one more chance, sure that Tina is hiding at the Swastika School. Wow, that's one seriously pissed off guy. So Hammerhead and his Bucket Heads go down to the Swastika School to end this mess with Tina. They are met by the Master and a couple of his staff, who bar Hammerhead's entrance. Hammerhead demands the "two girl criminals", which just seems so kettle-calling-the-pot-black to me. Just when a fight looks inevitable, in walks Sonny! Strolling with quiet firmness to stand between the two groups, Sonny begins berating Hammerhead, insulting his manhood and his mom's cooking and his sister's "supposed" virginity. "You're without honor," he says, "you deserve only our contempt."
The resulting fight between Hammerhead and Sonny is a foregone conclusion. Hammerhead fights dirty, whipping out these sharp point knife/brass knuckle thingies when it looks certain he's getting his ass handed to him. Sonny wades through Hammerheads swings, however, and ends up breaking the dude's left forearm! With that, Hammerhead and the Bucket Heads retire, leaving Sonny and the Master to laugh and chortle and plot an invasion of Poland.
Back now to the Kingpin's compound. Hammerhead, arm in a sling, has been shelved (reduced to drinking and sulking) and now the Kingpin tries a different way to kill Tina. He still has Tina's Uncle, and to "persuade" him, they make him watch his daughter being raped!
Poor little Girl Cousin (wearing a school girl's outfit no less) is tied up on a bed, and Looks Like Newman On Seinfeld Dude is tapped to jump on her and make mad monkey lovin'. Rape scenes tend to be a staple of these types of bad Japanese exploitation films, but it's still not a pleasant thing to watch. Thankfully, any really icky bits were edited out of the American cut.
Looks Like Newman on Seinfeld Dude.
Ok, so the Uncle is forced to telephone Tina at the Swastika School, setting her up to go down to the "ruined factory" to find her brother. Ruined factory? Surely there is more than one in Yokohama? Tina should alert the police and have the place swamped by a SWAT team, but she decides instead to go alone.
And now we have a few nifty fight sequences as Tina is ambushed in the dusty halls of the ruined factory by the Kingpin's hired killers.
First up is Cudgel Dude, with his six-foot long wooden pole, who an onscreen card identifies as "Hachiben Ma, Japanese Cudgel Play". Despite the ranged weapon, this guy isn't much of a match for Tina, who, once she gets the stick away from him, pounds him pretty severely. His problem was allowing Tina to get inside of his swings, thus negating the advantage of the long stick.
The final tally for this 53 second long fight is:
Cudgel Dude 0
Second up is Wrist Block Dude, with his fighting blocks strapped to his wrists. An earlier frame card names him as "Neray, Ancient Chinese Martian Arts", and his Fu Manchu mustache is totally racist. Tina makes pretty short work of him as well, though he does keep her entertained a bit longer than hapless Cudgel Dude. His fighting style is jumpy and leapy, a lot more wildly active than the others, though in the end he makes the same mistake of letting Tina get in too close.
The final tally for this 1:06 minute long fight is:
Wrist Block Dude 0
And lastly we have Nunchuck Dude, with his double spinning chucks o'doom and wild-eyed psychotic nostril-flaring frothing madness. After putting on an impressive display of spinning that would have won him a sectional ribbon in the state twirling finals, Nunchuck Dude attacks Tina. She promptly smacks him and takes one of his sets of chucks, and they do some mixed doubles twirling stuff for a few tedious moments before smacking on each other some more. He's got a lot more fight in him that the other two, and the scene ends ambiguously, with him still on his feet and kicking. A lot was cut out here, obviously, but since we see him again later, we can assume Tina left Nunchuks Dude alive.
The final tally for this 1:08 minute long fight is:
Nunchuks Dude 0
Back now to the Uncle's house. Emi arrives, to talk to Boy Cousin about where Tina went (she left the school without telling anyone, which just seems dumb of her). Suddenly, the Uncle and his daughter (Girl Cousin) stumble in, clearly the worse for wear. The Boy Cousin and Emi help them to a table and demand to know what happened. The Kingpin's thugs raped the daughter before letting them both go, remember, and she's a hollow shell here, crying and visible upset. Why they let the Uncle go is beyond me, as he clearly was having trouble with the whole plan and was a clear security risk.
Ah, I see now, the Kingpin let them leave hoping that Tina would go to them and fall into (yet another) ambush. We see, however, that the trap is sprung too soon, as the Blowgun Dude (the one who killed Fanny before) is lurking outside the window. Just as the Uncle is about to dramatically tell everyone about the bad guys' plans, a dart thuds into his neck, sending the room into chaos.
Suddenly the doors are tossed open and in rushes...a bunch of Thai girls dressed in Wilma Flintstone faux-cavebear togas and ceramic theater masks! Really! This group of girl assassins are named the "Amazons Seven", the kickboxing champions of Thailand, and are another one of the Kingpin's collection of hired killers. And kickbox they do, giving the Boy Cousin and Emi a serious challenge. Girl Cousin then recovers from her ordeal to also put up a good kung-fu show.
The Amazons Seven!
But they are not alone! Out of nowhere, who should launch herself into the room but Tina! Tina begins thrashing the Amazons Seven, artfully breaking each girl's ceramic mask as she knocks them out. The Amazons end up being fairly punk opponents, and they go down easy like Sunday morning. While they kick well, the Amazons Seven apparently never trained to block kicks.
The final tally for this 1:13 minute long fight is:
Tina, Emi and the Cousins 7
Amazons Seven 0
All that over, Tina rushes to the side of her dying Uncle. It's here that he gives up all that he has done (which we already knew), the double-crossing and the icky stuff, as a way of cleansing his soul before death. He tells Tina that her brother is still alive and being held in the Kingpin's basement. With that, he expires.
Death of the uncle.
So, the stage is set for the final battle, Tina has to infiltrate the Kingpin's compound to save her brother!
So, knowing that trucks of wiggy heroin are going into the compound, she sneaks down to the docks and hitches a ride in the back of a truck headed that way. Apparently perimeter security at the Kingpin's compound is fairly weak, because she's able to get all the way to the basement before being seen.
Tina now begins a furious one-woman Lady Deathstrike-esque assault on the bunch of goons guarding Lee's cell. As it happens the guards are about to move Lee to another cell, which is good fortune for Tina. Once Lee is out of the cell, Tina makes her move, quickly besting the guards in a brisk round of kicks and punches. Her opponents here are Tall For A Japanese Dude, Coat Like Mister Rogers Dude, Haircut Like Beck Dude, Skinny Dude, Random Dude #1, Random Dude #2, and Random Dude #3.
The final tally for this 2:45 minute long fight is:
Assorted gangster thugs 0
All the bad guys down, she then rushes to Lee, who is clearly on his last legs. The drugs in his system, and the general abuse he has received, have left him barely able to stand and in no condition to fight or even run. If she's to get him out of here, it will take a monumental effort.
Lee tells Tina that he really looks like Desmond on Lost.
The issue is decided by the sudden appearance of the Reverend Stone! This is another of the Kingpin's hired killers, a former preacher who wears a Catholic-style outfit and carries a spear pistol loaded with armor-piercing bolts! Can I get an Amen! This guy is so cool he really should have his own movie. The Reverend shoots Lee twice in the chest, and he dies after a lengthy death rattle. Enraged, Tina kills the Reverend with his own spear-pistol after disarming him.
Give me a three-picture deal!
The final tally for this 1:24 minute long fight is:
The Reverend 0
Hmm...Tina then falls down a trapdoor and is captured. Really. Wow, imagine the odds of her standing exactly on the hidden trapdoor. And who has a trapdoor in their basement, anyway?
Once captured, you'd be foolish to think that the Kingpin would just hurry up and put a bullet in Tina's head and be done with her. No, being the Bondish villain that he is, the Kingpin has Tina suspended upside down from the ceiling over a pit filled with sharpened glass spikes! As all his cronies laugh and chortle, he has the rope set on fire, with Tina sure to be killed in the punji stake pit once it breaks.
Timing it juuuust right, however, Tina is able to somehow defy gravity again by twisting her body to the side the instant the rope breaks, ending up safely on her feet a few paces from the pit. Hey, where did the ropes go? No time for that, because Tina grabs the Kingpin's sexy girlfriend (who really is the best looking woman in this movie, other than the ballerina chick) and shoves her into the pit! The woman's surely bloody and sticky death is edited out, but we can tell by the look on the Kingpin's face that it wasn't pretty.
The moll, before her demise.
Tina now runs upstairs, determined to fight her way out of the compound. In an interior hallway she's confronted by the Bucket Heads. In close quarters, their numbers become a disadvantage and Tina is able to rend and mash them with quick ease.
The final tally for this 22 second long fight is:
The Bucket Heads 0
A moment later she's attacked by Sai Dude, another of the Kingpin's hired killers, who is armed with twin Sais like Raphael the Ninja Turtle uses, plus a lame eyepatch and incredibly bad teeth (this might be the same dude as the Sickle-user from before, but now armed with a different weapon). Sai Dude gets a few licks in, slashing Tina across the right calf (an injury that, while it bleeds a lot here, doesn't impede Tina for the rest of the movie). Tina eventually takes one of his Sais from him, and jumping completely over him, drives it into the top of his skull, presumably killing him.
The final tally for this 52 second long fight is:
Sai Dude 0
Next up, in the opulent and well-appointed living room, Tina engages in a wicked fight with Throwing Dart Dude, while the Kingpin and his henchmen watch from the balcony.
Throwing Dart Dude misses five times from very close range, which is really just inexcusable, before trying traditional hand-fu on Tina. He really should stick to darts, because his fu is lame. The end is again edited for supposed R-rated ickiness, but we are left to assume that Throwing Dart Dude meets a messy end here.
The final tally for this 57 second long fight is:
Throwing Dart Dude 0
And now the cavalry arrives! Leaping into the room come Sonny, Emi and the Girl Cousin (who despite before being said to be a novice fighter, has now become a deadly killer). These three, plus Tina, now engage in a battle royale with the remaining cadre of the Kingpin's thugs and ruffians. Good lord, Sonny is a machine! It would be a fanboy's dream to have Sonny in his prime fight Jet Li in his prime. Maybe someday we'll clone them and make it happen.
Sonny about to lay a hurtin'.
Emi also quickly disposes of Blowgun Dude, whose main skills once he puts down his blowgun seem to be his Mohawk hairdo and his way-too-tight pants. Of note, here we get the film's only low-blow crotch-hit, as Emi delivers a karate chop to Blowgun Dude's jewels. No kids for him.
Anyway, for her part, Tina finally eliminates Nunchucks Dude, who was really getting annoying with his fishnet t-shirts, James Blunt hair, and wild-eyed coke-fueled ravings.
The final tally for this 2:48 minute long fight is:
Tina, Sonny, Emi and Girl Cousin 12 (conservative estimate, there was a lot going on this this fight)
Assorted gangster thugs 0
In the end, the Kingpin is holed up in his bedroom with Hammerhead, who has spent the entire battle apparently in this room drinking sake and feeling sorry for himself. In his defense, he only has one good arm, so he wouldn't have been much help down there anyway.
It is Sonny who breaches the door first, smacking a pistol out of the Kingpin's hand. Hammerhead rises from his stupor now, brandishing a Samurai sword (oddly, the first sword seen in this movie) and taking some ineffectual swings at Sonny. The ending is edited out, but most certainly Hammerhead is killed in some nasty brutish way by Sonny.
Alone now, the Kingpin flees through a secret passageway, pursued by Tina. The final woman-on-man confrontation between the Kingpin and Tina is a wild, frenetic affair. Strapping on his wrist knife/claw thingie, he channels Mister Han from Enter the Dragon and takes a few wicked swings at Tina in the tight confines of the tunnels. She chases him through the basements of his complex, trading kicks and knife slashes, before she corners him back outside on that scenic rocky promontory by the ocean that we saw before.
Trapped, and clearly loosing the fight, the Kingpin tries one last desperate move. He leaps (via wire-fu) into the air towards Tina, knife-hand flashing in the sun. Tina also defies gravity, leaping up high to meet him, and they engage in some protracted fisticuffs as they meet in the air and as they fall oh-so-slowly to the ground. With a thud, Tina lands on top of the Kingpin, probably impaling him on his own knives. She's the winner!
The final tally for this 2:27 minute long fight is:
The Kingpin 0
Bloodstained and bruised but defiant, Tina walks now to the water's edge to contemplate all that she has seen and done. Oh, and to give her agent time to negotiate appearance salaries for the sequels...
The final tally for this movie is:
All the good guys 66
All the bad guys 1
Bonus! Some handy statistics for you:
4: Number of cigars smoked by the Kingpin.
3: Number of sets of naughty girly nipples seen (dancer chick, Fanny, and Girl Cousin).
2: Number of people confirmed killed onscreen by Tina (Sai Dude and The Reverend), though certainly many more in the original Japanese cut.
Written in February 2007 by Nathan Decker.
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