Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Watching these 1970 style Japanese exploitation flicks and comparing them to American Blaxploitation flicks that were being released during this same time period, it is fairly stunning the similarities between these movies. The clothes, the anti-heroes, the reliance on titties and suspect kung fu action, and lest we forget a narrative that rarely makes any kind of logical sense. Today we are going to take a look at one of our personal heroes, Sonny Chiba, in what is supposed to be the final film in the ‘Street Fighter’ series in the movie ‘Karate Warriors’.  Of course this is a movie I happen to have enjoyed far too much than it deserved, but this is more of an indictment on my suspect taste in films and not necessarily representative of this movie as a piece of outstanding cinematic achievement.

Our film opens with the powerful voice of some random narration dude telling us about the battle between the brothers Iga and Mishima and their respective gangs as they try to wrestle control of this port towns illegal activities. The hinge of power rests on which brother can find the billion yen heroin stash left by their former, now dead leader. This is where we meet Chico (Chiba) who we see early on isn’t all that bad a guy as he drags this wounded dude across town to the doctor’s office, a doctor who gives Chico some mighty important plot relevant details about this movie. He also meets the doc’s nurse, the pretty and innocent Yumi who is sister to completely slutty Mashi who is playing both brothers against each other in order to find this heroin for herself.

Chico will also make the acquaintance of little Nanu, a tiny boy who he will become sort of a protector of despite the fact that Nanu’s old man is a superior badass in his own right. Nanu’s dad is Samurai warrior supreme Mizuki who spends a lot of time in this movie going for the award of Worst Dad Ever, even though he means well. As a

dad Mizuki is never around, apparently doesn’t feel the need for this boy to go school, the boy gets picked on and beat up and truth be told if it wasn’t for Chico the boy would be dead now. Anyway Chico just wants a job as a badass for hire for either gang, not that it matters which one. He shows the Iga gang his level of badassery, but Iga short sells him on salary so it’s off to Mishima. Thing is Mishima already has a resident badass in the Samurai Mizuki and feels one badass is enough. I’m of the personal belief that badasses are like money in that you can never have enough, but that’s just me.

So after Mizuki, representing Mishima, completely wrecks Iga’s business operations, now Iga is ready to talk Turkey with Chico about being his resident badass. Note that Chico has joined in with the completely duplicitous Mashi to find this heroin. Mizuki and Chico have a mutual respect as any honorable fighters would have for each other, added by the fact that Chico has saved little Nanu’s life and Mizuki has saved Chico’s life in repayment, but they know that a showdown between the Karate Master and the Samurai is inevitable. Recognize that this movie isn’t called ‘Samurai Warriors’ in case you are curious about who will win this eventual battle. There’s another evil dude floating around named Kuriko, who we know is evil because his eye is messed up and dresses in black leather, and he also wants this heroin. Try not to get too attached to evil dudes, sluts or samurai when watching this movie. Not recommended.

So let us examine what a person might be looking for when searching for some quality entertainment. Let say you’re a fan of martial arts but don’t know whether to choose between some modern Karate action or perhaps a traditional samurai flick. Problem solved considering Chico’s fists of death and Mizuki’s sword of injustice provided us enough blood letting to fill three exploitation movies. Let’s say you’re a fan of Japanese women’s tits. Who’s not a fan of those? I know I am and here they are unabashedly in full display. But some of us, like myself, are the sensitive type and want a little heart to their story and watching the gruff and angry Chico show affection to this young boy, affection that would probably get him thrown in jail in the present day for all kinds of inappropriate behavior, was just plain heart wrenching. Watch as Chico recklessly throws this boy fourteen feet across the ground to the safety of a conveniently place net or a conveniently placed hole in the ground. If you can watch Chico slap this boy upside his head for throwing out his heroin and not shed a tear then you’re a better one than me. You will also pick up yet another Tarantino theft… I mean homage… As Chico explains to the boy how he killed his dad and how he will probably be looking for vengeance down the road, just as The Bride explained to Vernita Green’s daughter in ‘Kill Bill’. Just so you know I’m not hating on ‘Kill Bill’ because you seriously should check out my sweet Hattori Hanzo replica I have hanging on my wall.

I actually live for this stuff so a decent ‘review’ from me would be next to impossible but nonetheless Sonny Chiba is great in this, as he is in most of these movies from this era, the action is brisk and plentiful and exploitation elements are shameless. I personally couldn’t ask for much more from my Japanese exploitation movies.

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