While most martial arts films focus mainly on showing the moves, strikes and blows of the combatants, they don't show the logical consequences of these battles in any detail. The Streetfighter does, and it won an "X" rating for violence when it was released to the U.S. in 1975. This cult film and its three sequels are thought to be particular favorites of American director Quentin Tarantino. Sonny Chiba stars as Terry, a mercenary hired by the Yakuza and Mafia to kidnap a wealthy heiress. The mobs refuse to pay his large fee for the job, and he immediately changes sides. Much of the violent and gory action takes place aboard an oil tanker; though injured, Terry still takes out at least half of his many opponents.
After attracting notoriety at movie theaters around the world (along with plenty of profits) with the brutal kung-fu hit The Street Fighter, the character of Terry Tsugury (Chiba) was quickly revived for Return of the Street Fighter. This time, Tsugury is hired by Japanese mobster Otaguru (Tanaka) to kill a pair of captured employees so they cannot inform on his activities (he has teamed with the American mafia under the guise of building a martial arts center). When Otaguru orders Tsugury to kill his old friend Masoaka (Suzuki), Tsugury refuses and is forced to go on the run with. To make matters worse, Junjo (Ishibashi), Tsugury's old nemesis, has reappeared and set his sights on revenge. Tsugury takes a vicious beating from Junjo, but recovers in time to punch, kick, and gouge his way through everyone who has crossed him during the finale. Although critics considered it to be little more than a hyper-violent cartoon, Return of the Street Fighter found favor with action fans who loved the first installment and its success inspired another sequel, The Streetfighter's Last Revenge.
The third entry in the Street Fighter series found the filmmakers adding in James Bond style trickery to spice up the kung-fu formula. This time, Terry Tsugury (Chiba) is hired by the criminal Owada clan to rescue a pair of cassette tapes that contain a formula that would the cheap manufacture of heroin. Tsugury pulls it off successfully but when his employers to double-cross him, Tsugury takes off with the tapes. The criminals send a group of thugs after him, led by a laser-shooting mariachi known as Mr. Black (Black). With a little help from female government agent Kaho (Shiomi), Tsugury use his fighting skills and mastery of disguises to foil the Owada clan and their henchmen. In the process, he gets to the bottom of a drug conspiracy that involves both the criminal underworld and the local police. Star Sonny Chiba went on to several more kung-fu epics built around his tough-guy charisma and Sue Shiomi later starred in a Street Fighter series spinoff entitled Sister Streetfighter.