"Who is Sonny Chiba?" asks Christian Slater, incredulous, in the opening minutes of True Romance. "He is ... he is bar none, the greatest actor working in martial arts movies today." Asked by Patricia Arquette if he's the good guy in the movie they're watching, Slater replies, "He ain’t so much good guy as he’s just a bad motherfucker. Sonny don’t be bullshittin’. He fucks dudes up for life. Hold on, a fight scene's coming up."
You tend not to wait long for those in a Chiba vehicle. Bruce Lee was all coiled grace and lightning strikes; Chiba's a concrete block that crushes people. Calling him "brute force" is overstating his subtlety. If you've ever wondered how somebody could be stabbed with a gun, you need to see 1974's Return of the Street Fighter, this weekend's attraction downstairs at the Cult Fiction Underground in Logue's Black Raven Emporium, 2915 Gallatin Pike.
Here Chiba reprises his role as neckbreaker Terry Tsurugi, the martial-arts movie equivalent of a golem. Set him on a target, and you never know whether he'll wipe out your side as well. The movie plays 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday — giving you just enough time to rush home and set the DVR for William Girdler's batshit-insane The Manitou late tonight on TCM Underground.