If movies were judged by the quality of their titles, then Karate Bearfighter would be considered one of the greatest films of all time, up there with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning Swords of Death. Unfortunately, even a title that great can't keep this movie from being the greatest martial arts spectacular that most people have never heard of.
It's still pretty awesome, though. As the title implies, Karate Bearfighter is built around Masutatsu Oyama (played by the great Sonny Chiba, of The Street Fighter fame) being forced to fist-fight a bear to the death in order to raise money to pay for the medical treatment of a child who was injured by the members of a rival karate school. In other words, it basically has the same plot as, say, Breakin', but with all the breakdancing to save the rec center replaced by a man punching a bear while it tries to murder him. Admittedly, the actual bear fight isn't that great in terms of special effects, and pretty clearly involves Chiba slugging it out with a man in an awkward and ill-fitting costume, but it's still well worth seeing.
And the best part? It's based on a true story. No, really: Mas Oyama was a very real person best known for founding full-contact Kyokushin karate, as well as demonstrating his strength by fighting bulls and killing them with a single punch, a talent that earned him the nickname "Godhand." Not coincidentally, he also trained Sonny Chiba, who starred in an entire trilogy of movies (very loosely) based on Oyama's life — Karate Bearfighter is the second, sandwiched between Karate Bullfighter and Karate For Life.