Two Classic Martial Arts Films Starring Sonny Chiba Making Blu-ray Disc Debut on June 25

Eureka Entertainment on June 25 will release on Blu-ray Disc two classic martial arts films based on the hit manga series “Karate Baka Ichidai” and starring Sonny Chiba.

The films, Karate Bullfighter and its sequel, Karate Bearfighter, are being presented for the first time ever on Blu-ray Disc from new restorations as part of the Eureka Classics line. The first print run of 2,000 copies of the “Beast Fighter” combo pack, which features both films, will come in an O-card slipcase and include a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author Eddie Falvey.

The combo pack is being distributed by the MVD Entertainment Group.

Both films were initially released in 1975 and are based on the real life of Masutatsu “Mas” Ōyama — the fabled bull-slaying karate master who personally trained Chiba.

In Karate Bullfighter (or Champion of Death), a karate tournament is crashed by an enigmatic martial artist calling himself Ōyama (Chiba), who arrives in tattered rags and beats all who dare challenge him. But Ōyama’s entrance into the world of karate has unforeseen consequences, and soon he is fighting for far more than sporting victory.

In Karate Bearfighter, Ōyama is expelled from the karate community for refusing to pull his punches. With nowhere else to turn, he takes a job with the yakuza after running into Kimura (Hideo Murota), who Ōyama once knew as a fellow member of the Imperial Japanese Air Service before he turned to a life of crime. Ultimately, though, Ōyama has no more respect for his superiors on the streets than he did in the dojo.

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Street Fighter), Karate Bullfighter and Karate Bearfighter were adapted from the popular manga series “Karate Baka Ichidai,” which ran from 1971 to 1977 and chronicled the life and legend of Mas Ōyama.

The “Beast Fighter” package consists of 1080p presentations of both films across two Blu-ray discs, from new restorations of the original film elements by Toei, with the original Japanese mono audio and optional English subtitles. Bonus features include audio commentaries on both films by action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema; a video essay by Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of the Martial Arts; and the original theatrical trailers.

Shout! Factory to Issue Seven-Film ‘Sonny Chiba Collection’ on Blu-ray Disc

Shout! Factory on Nov. 15 will release The Sonny Chiba Collection on Blu-ray Disc in collaboration with Toei Company Ltd.

The four-disc set, issued under the independent film distributor’s Shout! Select brand, consists of seven of the martial arts icon’s films: the 1972 Western Yakuza Wolf: I Perform Murder and its sequel, Yakuza Wolf 2: Extend My Condolences; the martial arts actioner Bodyguard Kiba (1973), based on an action manga by Ikki Kajiwara; and its sequel, Bodyguard Kiba 2; and a trio of martial arts films: 1989’s Shogun’s Shadow; 1981’s Samurai Reincarnation; and 1978’s Swords of Vengeance: The Fall of Ako Castle.

Several of these films are being released on Blu-ray Disc for the first time. Fans who order the film from ShoutFactory.com will receive an exclusive poster featuring new artwork (while supplies last).

Shinichi “Sony” Chiba was a pioneering Japanese actor and martial artist. He earned a black belt in Kyokushin Karate in 1965 and a fourth degree in 1984. His movie career began in the 1960s, when he appeared in a pair of tokusatsu superhero shows. The film that launched him into stardom was 1974’s The Street Fighter. Before his retirement, Chiba appeared in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. He died of complications from COVID-19 in August 2021 at 82.