Review: Karate Bull Fighter (1977)

Karate Bear Fighter 1

Starring Sonny Chiba, Yumi Takigawa, Yutaka Nakajima, Masaaki Yuhara

Fight Choreography by Sonny Chiba

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

So we have now come to the last film in the Sonny Chiba Matsutatsu Oyama series (It’s actually the second in the series) and now, after having defeated the Bull in the previou film, Oyama still travels around Japan challenging schools and beating their masters soundly, most recently a master named Ryudoji, whose men try to attack Oyama later to their own dismay and mortal pain. He then runs into a friend he once served with who is now a gangster, and Oyama takes a job as a mob enforcer. This brings him into contact with a Oyama impersonator named Kozuro, and befriends him and his lady love Sumiko, who works at the local tea house. Oyama also meets an old master who tries to teach Oyama a lesson in his rod fighting style. Things go south as Ryudoji takes a liking to Sumiko, and as all baddies do, attempts to rape her while she is serving him one night, and she winds up falling out of a window to her death. Kozuro tries to take his revenge, but is no match for the karate master and is also killed, leaving Oyama to avenge them both, which he does, crippling Ryudoji, drawing the the ire of his brother, who plots his revenge against Oyama. Meanwhile Oyama travels to Mount Daisetsu near Hokkaido to bury his friends’ remains, and meets a little boy named Rintaro and his Father, who is injured while chopping down a tree, and to help pay for their medical bills Oyama agrees to fight a bull in hand to hand combat. This gets printed in the papers, and Ryudoji’s brother now knows where Oyama is. If the bear doesn’t kill Oyama, someone else will…

Karate Bearfighter Sonny Chiba

Finally. This film, more than the other two I’ve reviewed, has Sonny Chiba goes nuts in the only way he can. The other stars do a good job, but this is Sonny’s film through and through, and we get the bonus of seeing the real Masutatsu Oyama performing a kata with his students at the opening of the film. The story is interesting, and broken up into two parts, the parts with his friends Kozuro and Sumiko, and then Hokkaido and his relationship with Rintaro. Both carry a level of weight to it, with the exception of one of the silliest moments seen in a martial arts film since kung -fu gorillas: Oyama’s fight versus a bear, which is obviously a man in a suit, and is just as silly as you’d think it would look.

Karate Bear Fighter 2

The fights here are the best in the series, to me, as they feature the Sonny Chiba Fist Strike of Mortal Pain. That’s right, Sonny Chiba kills a lot of guys, and as he does in his other films, this fist strike is incredibly painful-looking and provides the person struck with it a merciful death from the intense pain that was just inflicted. Not to mention the blood flows fairly steadily in this one.

The fights throughout are entertaining if short, and even the final fight is well done. It really is the most “Sonny Chiba” of this film series.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

This is the best of the Sonny Chiba Masutatsu Oyama Series, featuring old school Sonny Chiba fights. Not to be missed!