• Gyakushû! Satsujin ken / The Street Fighter's Last Revenge (1974)

    The Street Fighter's Last Revenge is the third and last installment in the series around vicious hitman and karate fighter Tsurugi Takuma. This movie is also the best in the series and one would have liked to see more films in the franchise. This last film combines the strengths of the great first movie such as diversified settings, vicious fight scenes and interesting characters and adds an interesting plot with numerous twists and turns until the very end. In order to fully appreciate this film, you should watch the Japanese version because the American version has cut some fight scenes and changed parts of the plot for no reason whatsoever.

    The story revolves around a Yakuza clan associated with a ruthless company that blackmails and bribes politicians. Tsurugi Takuma steals an important tape that proves this scheme and blackmails the Yakuza clan himself. The main character needs to fight an overtly motivated Taiwanese fighter who quickly changes sides to support him, a determined prosecutor who initially wants to expose the criminals but then decides to betray them and get rich and a seductive woman associated to the Yakuza who tries to murder the main character and the prosecutor on numerous occasions.

    The fight scenes are even more interesting than in the previous installments because Tsurugi Takuma faces an opponent who is even stronger than him and needs to learn about his background and fight techniques to clear his mind and win the deadly final duel. The characters are even more interesting than in the two predecessors and especially the diversified prosecutor and the deadly femme fatale are particularly intriguing and make the viewers care about their fates. The settings are diversified as the fights take place on a fairground, in a crematorium and at a marina on a particularly rainy night. The story offers numerous at times surprising twists and turns that keep viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

    The Street Fighter's Last Revenge is among the very best contemporary martial arts films ever made and a very positive surprise after the lackluster second installment in the series. This movie deserves more attention and recognition. Even if you haven't watched the first two films in the series, you should watch this one if you are a genre fan. It's regrettable that the series didn't continue but one has to admit that it ended on a very high note.

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  • Satsujin ken 2 / Return of the Street Fighter (1974)

    Return of the Street Fighter is the sequel to brutal, dynamic and entertaining The Street Fighter which was only released two and a half months earlier. This film features some vicious fight scenes like the predecessor but disappoints in all other regards. The movie seems to have been rushed in order to take advantage of the predecessor's surprising success.

    Some of the brutal fight scenes look so ridiculous that they are unintentionally humorous. One example is when Tsurugi Takuma beats up a Yakuza so hard on the top of a snow-covered mountain that his eyes pop out. The story is even shallower than the plot of the first movie and basically revolves around a Yakuza clan that blackmails people to finance a new martial arts school that serves as hideout for an international organized crime organization. To make matters worse, one of Tsurugi Takuma's opponents from the first movie who was believed to be dead makes a random appearance in this film to get revenge. This film also features two extended flashbacks from the first film that overstay their welcome and only attempt to make the film longer than it is. The main character has a new sidekick in this film named Pin Boke whom he picked up from the streets for vague reasons and who is constantly annoying the main character and talking nonsense.

    The elements that makes this weak sequel acceptable are its relentless pace, brutal fight scenes and gloomy atmosphere. Those who really liked the first movie can give this sequel a try and should definitely check out the third and last installment in the series entitled The Street Fighter's Last Revenge which is the best of the three movies in my opinion.

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  • Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken / The Street Fighter (1974)

    The Street Fighter is a Japanese martial arts film that stands out with its rough fights and graphic brutality. Main character Tsurugi Takuma is a tough guy with quite a temper who is able to rip out his opponent's eyes, testicles and vocal chords. The film also features a few interesting side characters with Tsurugi Takuma's clumsy but resilient partner Zhang Rakuda, charming and determined heiress Sarai Chuayut-Hammett and condemned murderer Shikenbaru Tateki who desperately desires to kill the protagonist.

    The story of the movie is vivid but shallow. Tsurugi Takumi is asked to kidnap the daughter of a recently assassinated oil tycoon but refuses when he realizes that the gangsters involved are Yakuza since he wants to remain an independent hitman. The Yakuza don't accept his decision and try to assassinate him since he knows too much about them. Along with his easily scared but remarkably loyal partner Zhang Rakuda, the protagonist now attempts to save the heiress and fight the Japanese Yakuza and their Hong Kong allies.

    The film has numerous memorable scenes that have stood the test of time. The first one is already the gloomy opening sequence in a prison when Tsurugi Takuma disguises as a monk in order to free a convicted murder with a clever scheme. The dynamic fight scene between the main character and two siblings in his apartment is also intense. The adventurous plan to free the kidnapped heiress is also quite gripping. The most emotional scene follows a short time after when Zhang Rakuda desperately tries to prove his loyalty to his partner. The highlight however are the last fifteen minutes of the film when Tsurugi Takumi faces off dozens of Yakuza on a ship at night.

    There are only two minor flaws for me. First of all, the main character is somewhat unbalanced. He is introduced as pitiless, relentless and selfish character who acts a little bit like an evil version of Bruce Lee. Later on however, the same character deeply cares about his partner, risks his life to save a heiress he barely knows on multiple occasions and is shown to have a troubled past through a flashback. These two sides of the character clash on several occasions and make him look somewhat bipolar. Tsurugi Takumi is as cold as ice in one moment and almost heartbroken in the next sequence. One more thing that bothered me was the ending of the film. Even though the final fifteen minutes are the highlight of the film, it somewhat ends on a cliffhanger with several questions left unanswered. The second and third feature in the series wouldn't resolve these questions either. One gets the impression that the production was running on a low budget and that the final five minutes that should have been there are missing. This movie doesn't have a proper conclusion which is slightly frustrating.

    Still, The Street Fighter is a dynamic, entertaining and vicious martial arts film that still entertains almost five decades later. Watch the original Japanese version with subtitles in order to avoid conservative censorship and ridiculous translations in the English version.

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  • Sweet Oblivion - Sweet Oblivion (2019)

    There is no doubt that Geoff Tate is an excellent singer who has recently redeemed himself with strong collaborations in the renowned Avantasia project. After numerous failed and short-lived projects, Frontiers Records attempts to put a stable band around the singer. The result is Sweet Oblivion and the first strike is the self-titled debut.

    On the positive side, Geoff Tate's vocals sound great. He still has a crystal clear and dynamic voice that balances gloomy undertones and melodic lines quite efficiently.

    However, the musicianship and songwriting on this album are bland, boring and exchangeable. The dull atmospheric keyboards are omnipresent. The guitar play is simplistic, repetitive and powerless. The bass guitar is nearly inaudible. The drum play is so slow and smooth that one gets the impression the drummer is on auto-pilot. The fluffy and muddy production makes the final product even less dynamic than it already is. The songwriting isn't much better and predictably focuses on Geoff Tate's vocal skills alone. All tracks are around four and a half minutes long and consist of fluffy musicianship to give all the attention to the singer who can unfold his skills eagerly. There isn't one single track that comes around with an exciting, memorable or unusual idea. This record is best described as particularly mellow melodic metal with great vocals but without any inspiration.

    Sweet Oblivion isn't a band but an exchangeable instrumental backdrop put together by a label that has done this on numerous occasions for other artists in the past to showcase Geoff Tate's undeniable skills. The vocals are great but the other three members can't convince at all and the fluffy production only makes things worse. Listen to Avantasia songs featuring Geoff Tate or try to catch them on tour but ignore this cheap label product that doesn't do the great singer justice.

    Final rating: 25%

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  • 66Samus - Fart Metal (2014)

    After ridiculous releases like Penis Metal by Hades Archer, one thought one had heard it all but there is always a desperate soul begging for attention who manages to make matters worse. Sam Paulicelli is a talented multi-instrumentalist involved in numerous international low-key projects but that doesn't seem to be enough for him. Under the misunderstood disguise of humour, he has released numerous short singles under the 66Samus moniker in a lazy attempt to make some extra money. It's not as bad as Sloth that releases noisy sound collages on a daily basis which can only be explained by the assumption that somebody lost a bet to the creator and must purchase anything Sloth releases until the end of days but this project here is not a far cry away from the bottom. Fart Metal is the first single and already lowers the bar in such a way that it might never get worse. It's quite a statement to kick off a solo career with something as goofy, disgusting and childish.

    I must admit that I had to laugh the first time I listened to this single and watched the goofy music video that came along with it. I didn't laugh because the song is so funny but because I couldn't believe that someone willingly decided to make himself look so utterly stupid on the internet. While the internet can be a helpful information source, it can just as often be considered as society's trash bin where people rudely insult others under fake pseudonyms to increase the self-esteem they can't get in their real everyday lives. That also happened to a certain degree to the creator of this song who was called insufferable and charmingly asked to fuck off and shut up. While such comments are yet again poorly veiled internet bullying, one has to admit that the creator of this song was obviously looking for controversial reactions. Someone who shouldn't have been looking for attention got reactions by those who shouldn't have been reacting. Unsurprisingly, some people really described this song as the coolest thing they have ever heard and claimed that it sounds much better than anything from Justin Bieber. The former statement unveils that the commentator must have an incredibly boring life to make such a statement while the latter underlines the stereotype that metal fans are quite closed-minded and vividly attack any artist who has commercial success and critical acclaim. That kind of song only seems to attract unlikable characters along some curious people.

    As for the song itself, we have a vivid thrash metal song that doesn't even last ninety seconds intertwined with farts instead of vocals and a breakdown with diarrhea sounds to finish things on a dirty note. The instrumental work itself and especially the dynamic drum play is actually decent while the rest is a poor joke that lasts much too long.

    The fact that I stumbled over this song, its music video and the numerous controversial reactions might prove that I'm spending too much time on the internet myself. Maybe the time has come to reduce time spent on the internet and focus on essential hobbies only or to take a constant break from it for quite a while. The only thing Fart Metal inspires me are face palms but I wouldn't be surprised if some desperate loner created something called barf metal in response to this.

    Final rating: 10%

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