The Masutatsu Oyama Trilogy 

1975/1976/2007

Sonny Chiba's "Street Fighter" movies are more fun, but fans of the "Kill Bill" co-star will not want to pass this up set of action films based on a real-life martial arts master. Included are "Karate Bullfighter," "Karate Bearfighter" and "Karate for Life."

 

The titles aren't metaphorical, either. As Masutatsu Oyama, Chiba engages in all sorts of full-contact fights with people who don't cotton to his new style of karate, and in "Karate Bullfighter," this culminates in ripping the horns off a live steer.

 

What do you do for an encore? How about kill a grizzly with your bare hands? Oyama does that in the immediate sequel, "Karate Bearfighter," as well as conducting freelance bodyguard work, avenging the death of his pal, befriending a child thief, and poking a guy's eyes out for good measure.

 

The more-PETA-friendly "Karate for Life" foregoes man vs. animal scenarios, instead pitting Oyama against 100 karate students in the opening 12 minutes alone! This leads to a gig in the wrestling ring, where he's supposed to throw a match, but doesn't, thus raising the ire of gunmen. There's also a hooker with tuberculosis and a final showdown that rips off "Enter the Dragon."

 

Trailers are all you get in the way of extras, but the movies are a treat unto themselves.

 

"?Rod Lott

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