Watch Quentin Tarantino Fave The Street Fighter, The First Movie To Get an X‑Rating for Violence (NSFW)


Bruce Lee died in 1973 just before the pre­miere of Enter the Drag­on — the high­est gross­ing movie of that year. Lee’s sud­den and mys­te­ri­ous death left a huge void that stu­dios scram­bled to fill. Some shady Hong Kong pro­duc­ers start­ed crank­ing out kung fu flicks star­ring decep­tive­ly named actors like Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Bruce Lai or, com­bin­ing two ‘70s tough guys in one name, Bron­son Lee. Amer­i­can stu­dios start­ed mak­ing movies like Black Belt Jones star­ring Enter the Drag­on co-star Jim Kel­ly. It was in this con­text that Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers acquired the Japan­ese karate thriller Gek­i­tot­su! Sat­su­jin Ken star­ring Shinichi Chi­ba and renamed it The Street Fight­er. The movie became noto­ri­ous for earn­ing an X‑rating sole­ly for vio­lence, and it turned its lead, rechris­tened Son­ny Chi­ba, into a cult idol. You can watch The Street Fight­er above, poor­ly dubbed and in the wrong aspect ratio. Just as it was prob­a­bly screened at your local grind­house the­ater back dur­ing the Ford admin­is­tra­tion. (The film, by the way, is in the pub­lic domain.)

The movie’s sto­ry is a typ­i­cal tale of man­ly hon­or, revenge and betray­al, where men set­tle their dif­fer­ences with their fists and women — the “good” women, any­way – sim­per on the side­lines. Chi­ba plays Ter­ry Tsu­ru­gi, a badass street thug. Sure, he might be a world-class jerk, espe­cial­ly after he sells one dead­beat client into pros­ti­tu­tion, but he’s a jerk with a code of hon­or. Of course, you don’t watch mar­tial arts movies – or almost any Japan­ese movie from the 1970s, real­ly – for its pro­gres­sive stance on gen­der rela­tions. You watch them for the ass kick­ing. And on that front, The Street Fight­er deliv­ers. So when Tsug­uri gets hired to pro­tect the beau­ti­ful daugh­ter of a dead oil tycoon from a nefar­i­ous band of gang­sters, you know he will do just that, even if it involves throw­ing punch­es, deliv­er­ing gory eye gouges and, in one mem­o­rable scene, rip­ping the tes­ti­cles clean off of a rapist. The movie’s relent­less vio­lence and gen­er­al nihilism made The Street Fight­er a hit, spawn­ing a hand­ful of sequels – Return of the Street Fight­er, Sis­ter Street Fight­er and Street Fighter’s Last Revenge. The movie also made at least one major fan: Quentin Taran­ti­no.

Taran­ti­no loved the movie in a way that only the reign­ing uber-nerd of ’70s exploita­tion movies could: he made ref­er­ences to it in his works. Clarence and Alaba­ma watched The Street Fight­er and its sequels in True Romance. Taran­ti­no even cast Chi­ba as Han­zo, the ace katana mak­er in Kill Bill. In the run up to his 2007 dou­ble bill with Robert Rodriguez, Grind­house, Taran­ti­no placed The Street Fight­er 13th on his list of favorite exploita­tion flicks, above Dario Argento’s gial­lo clas­sic Sus­piria but below the absolute­ly bonkers Mas­ter of the Fly­ing Guil­lo­tine.

You can find The Street Fight­er list­ed in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bruce Lee: The Lost TV Inter­view

Watch 10-Year-Old Bruce Lee in His First Star­ring Role (1950)

Bruce Lee Audi­tions for The Green Hor­net (1964)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing one new draw­ing of a vice pres­i­dent with an octo­pus on his head dai­ly. 

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  • Sonny Chiba says:

    “An actor’s body should be full of emo­tions, whether it is hap­pi­ness or sor­row, pain or joy, enraged or elat­ed. You have to express your­self with your whole body. Japan­ese actors don’t nor­mal­ly do this. What I’m doing as an action star is what every actor should be doing. Action is dra­ma. If we can­not make the audi­ence laugh, smile or cry with us, we are not actors. That may be ide­al­is­tic — but it’s true.” ~ Son­ny Chi­ba

  • manuel leo u. ngayaan says:

    good old movies full of action with emo­tion

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