Unlike Hong Kong, where fighting females comprise an eternally popular genre, Japan has no such abundance of capable, battling women stars. Sue Shiomi is a rarity, always watchable, even scowling through mundane dreck like this.
Undercover cop Li Long has disappeared while investigating a drug-smuggling operation in Japan. His sister Tina (Sue Shiomi), a top karate fighter, is enlisted to find him, but her first lead, Fanny, is snatched away by thugs. As Tina battles the thugs, another man rescues Fanny and drives her
away. It turns out the rescuer is Sonny Hibachi (Sonny Chiba) of the upright Shorinji karate school, and they have Fanny in protective custody, going through withdrawal from her heroin addiction. When Tina tries to question her, an assassin kills Fanny with a blowgun dart.
Tina meets one of the smugglers' operatives, Hammerhead (Masishi Ishibashi), who wants to crush the Shorinji school; he bests her in battle and throws Tina off a bridge, but she survives. After a female Shoronji fighter destroys a truckload of the gang's product, the criminals force Tina's uncle
to lure her into a trap. She escapes, but just as a repentant Uncle is about to spill the beans on the gang, he is killed by another blowgun dart. Tina sneaks onto a truck heading to the gang's lair, discovering her brother locked in a dungeon and drugged. A fight ensues, the brother is killed,
and Tina is captured. Again she escapes and this time is joined by Hibachi and the female Shorinji fighter. Together they wipe out the bad guys.
Nobody ever accused Sonny Chiba or his cinematic offspring of having good writers. This by-the-numbers story plods along routinely, interrupted by shorts bursts of true idiocy. The villains wear an assortment of ridiculous costumes and sport various gimmicks: there's the blowgun-toting,
mohawk-wearing fellow with his fetching tribal accoutrements skulking about urban Japan; the former preacher dressed all in black with wide-brim hat and speargun; the scarred fighters who wear trashcans on their heads; and the Amazons 7, a group of Thai boxing women in caveman outfits and
papier-mache masks. The clever criminals have come up with a plot to soak wigs in heroin for export; the cleverer Shorinji woman figures out their scheme by discovering one of their wigs and doing the natural thing--she tears off a clump of hair and tastes it. While Li is being slowly tortured to
death by injection, his uncle in the gang's employ thoughtfully shows up with a batch of freshly-baked cookies for the prisoner. The cookies, of course, contain a note, although it's of little consequence and only serves to inform the gang that Uncle is untrustworthy, and spur them to rape his
daughter as incentive to trap Tina.
Of course logic isn't the only thing elastic in the film; so is continuity. Tina confronts Hammerhead on the lawn of the gang's lair. They move sideways out of frame and presto! they're on a rocky shore. Another step to the side and shazam! they're in the middle of a long suspension bridge. Tina
performs impossible superhuman leaps, and titles appear onscreen describing the various exotic weapons during their obligatory introductory sequences, just as in Chiba's official STREET FIGHTER series. Unlike that series, however, Chiba here is a good guy, and refrains from ripping any parts off
his foes' bodies. Instead, he simply shows up like the cavalry at the last moment to help save the day.
In 1969, Sonny Chiba, already a popular action star, had formed the Japan Action Club to provide stuntmen and martial artists for TV and features. Training included acrobatics, dance, stunt choreography, acting, and karate. Together and individually the troupe worked in countless superhero series,
going on to do stage shows and live performances. Along with Hiroyuki Sanada, who went on to work in Hong Kong films, Sue Shiomi (Japanese name Etsuki Shiomi) was probably the most famous alumnus of the JAC. Born in 1955, she was a tomboy who became enamored of Chiba's screen roles and wrote to
him asking to be made an apprentice. He responded by suggesting she take the admission test for the nascent JAC. Shiomi passed the test, along with two other women, both of whom dropped out of the rigorous training course. Following some TV series work and bit roles in movies, Shiomi made her
debut starring role in this, the first of four films roughly translated as the "Lethal Fist Woman" series. New Line Cinema dubbed and retitled it for American audiences to cash in on the Chiba connection. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1976
- Rating: R
- Review: Unlike Hong Kong, where fighting females comprise an eternally popular genre, Japan has no such abundance of capable, battling women stars. Sue Shiomi is a rarity, always watchable, even scowling through mundane dreck like this. Undercover cop Li Long has… (more)