“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Theatrical Release: 1995 / Director: Tony Randel / Actors: Gary Daniels, Malcolm McDowell ... / DVD released 07 June, 2004 at Contender Entertainment Group / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL, Widescreen „
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Based on the incredibly popular Manga and Anime, Fist of the North Star was made in 1995, and was set to be the movie to catapult lower-grade action star Gary Daniels to bigger and better things. Sadly, as with the previous year's Streetfighter and Jean Claude Van Damme, things didn't quite work out that way, and Daniels has been confined to the Straight-to-video wasteland since.
While this may immediately lose a lot of face for me with the anime crowd, I was never really a huge fan of the anime, it got really repetitive, really fast, and the only saving grace was the cool fight scenes, and even they started to get repetitive after a while. A lot of fans of the anime absolutely loathed this movie, basically because it didn't recreate the cartoon scene by scene, lost a few characters and, you know, made a transition from long anime series to live action motion picture.
The movie is set in a post-apocalypse future where water is scarce and the majority of the Earth is a wasteland. The main character is Kenshiro(Gary Daniels), his father Ryuken (Malcolm Macdowell) was killed at the hand of his friend Shin (Costas Mandylor). Ryuken was the 'Fist of the North Star', which means that he was the greatest fighter of his Martial Art, Shin is the 'Master of Southern Cross', and takes it upon himself to rule the world, he cannot fight Ryuken, because the teachings say that North Star and Southern Cross should never fight, so he simply guns down Ryuken, which makes Kenshiro the Fist of the North Star. While this is happening, Kenshiro is with his girlfriend Julia (Isako Washio) and Shin and his men launch a surprise attack, leaving Kenshiro for dead and kidnapping Julia.
Years later, the City of Southern cross rules the land, with Shin watching from the top of his mighty tower with Julia prisoner, while his men, lead by Jackal (Chris Penn) are terrorising the nearby village of Paradise Valley.
Kenshiro happens upon the valley, and encounters a blind girl named Lynn(Nalona Herron) and her wannabe hero brother Bat (Dante Basco). After he cures Lynn's blindness, the pair share some sort of link, because she is charged with opening his eyes to his destiny, which he is in denial of. The locals are trying to fight the 'Crossmen', as Shin's troops are called, but they cannot offer much resistance, and it isn't long before the Southern Cross flies above the Valley.
But Lynn sends Bat to find Kenshiro, and despite his initial reluctance to help, despite the great distance between them, Kenshiro hears Lynn's screams of horror at what is happening clearly, and the pair sneak back into the Valley via the sewers, before launching an attack that leads to the demise of an army of crossmen, but Bat is also killed saving Kenshiro from Jackal, whom Kenshiro instructs to go to Shin, and inform him that his time is up.
Taking one of the crossmen's motorbikes, Ken sets off to the City of Southern Cross to fulfill his destiny, and take back his girlfriend.
Fist of the North Star is part Martial Arts movie, part Post-Apocalypse movie and part love story. It's an incredibly frustrating picture, it looks brilliant, and has a lot of things going for it, but it also falls down at a pretty key element.
Ironically, the thing that most detractors seem to miss, are the actually flaws of the movie itself. Too concerned with running off how it doesn't represent the anime, they miss out on all the good things the movie has to offer, but also hilariously manage to never cite the actual probelms the movie faces. The film suffers from 2 conflicting forces trying to make it. Director Tony Randel, famous for his work on Hellbound:Hellraiser 2, wasn't really keen on the martial arts side of the story. Which is a pretty crappy development for a movie where the two main characters are martial arts masters. Randel wanted the emphasis to be placed firmly on the love story angle of the movie.
Gary Daniels however, a fan of the anime and kickboxing champion, was quite the opposite, and wanted the movie to play up the martial arts element more, which, when you think about it, makes sense.
In easily the best DVD treatment a 'B' picture has ever recieved, the UK DVD of the movie, Fist of the North Star recieved a 2-DVD special edition release, which boasts numerous insights into the movie from Daniels, where he declares that while he was happy with Randel's look of the movie, he was disgusted with his shooting and editing of the fight scenes, which is often noticeabley bad. In an excellent audio commentary, Daniels even highlights the movie's faults, something you rarely hear in an Audio commentary, usually pointless re-tellings of the movie's story full of lots of back patting. This commentary discusses the problems, and Daniels doesn't try to disguise the fact that there was some friction involved with the making of it.
His comments about the fight sequences are completely true. While some of them were changed to have him fighting less opponents(Randel apparently didn't want him to seem too strong), a lot of the fight scenes could have been improved greatly via the simple act of better editing and camera use. Some fights, as Daniels points out, don't show you exactly who or what Kenshiro is up against, and sometimes the camera stays stationary for far too long, and others is too close to be able to tell that Daniels can actually fight. Some of them do allow him to shine and look pretty good, and his showdown with Shin at the end of the movie is better than it has any right to be, given that Mandylor isn't much of a fighter, but on the whole, with better editing, I would have given this film an extra star.
It's a shame, because on the plus side, while the movie has it's share of annoying characters(ie Bat), it's also pretty damn good fun as far as post-apocaylpse movies go. It's heroes are likable, and it's villains suitabley nasty, especially in the scene of them attacking the village, and with the excellent action scenes that Daniels can produce, it could have been very good.
The fights aren't the only problem mind, some of the acting is pretty bad. While I like Daniels, and at times in this movie he comes accross as perfect for the role, in a few scenes...he just seems devoid of all character...like he is trying to be Jet Li or something.
Costas Mandylor really isn't very convincing as the murderous Shin, and Daniels reveals on the DVD that the role was originally intended for Julian Sands(!) who would probably have been more suited, given his villainous turns in the entertaining Warlock and it's sequels.
It's hard to tell if Dante Basco is bringing the annoying element to Bat, or if he is just written that way, and 'Downtown' Julie Brown, who apparently hosted MTV or something should have stuck to it.
On the plus side of the acting, Isako Washio seems to be trying single handedly at times to salvage the film as a serious venture. Her English isn't perfect, which is actually quite sexy, and she is probably the true highlight acting wise. Chris Penn does pretty well with his role also, coming away with the memorable "it ain't easy being sleazy", and generally seeming to love this nasty villainous character.
The film does feature some nice support from Ron Howard as a crazy Crossman and Melvin Van Peebles as a rebel leader to try and bolster some quality.
The special effects in the movie are actually pretty good. The wasteland may not be overly original, but it's well created, and Shin's art deco obsessed city is actually a really nice set, and also realised with some excellent miniatures. The overly gory scenes of violence, such as Kenshiro getting his scars, do something to recall the cartoon, and they are fairly well done. Along with the really awesome and atmospheric sets, the film has a bizarre habit of giving every character some form of leather clothing to wear. Seriously, Leather shop owners need not worry if there is an apocalypse.
Another aspect in which the movie comes off very well is the soundtrack. Christopher L. Stone creates an epic and heroic theme for the movie, and his soundtrack is excellent, and along with the sets and effects goes to show that this movie had the production values to be something very special.
And that's the worst thing about the movie, it had the potential to be great. Had Randel allowed Daniels, or basically anyone with any experience in working with martial arts scenes, authority over the Martial arts based aspects of the film, chances are this would have been a genre classic. Hell, the fight scenes are usually the only bits directors get right in Daniels' movies.
As it stands, Fist of the North Star is either one of the best B-Movie action movies, or a frustratingly mediocre A movie. Personally, while I acknowledge that it's lack of success in a fundamental area of a Martial Arts movie, ie the fight scenes, hinder it quite a bit, personally I still found the movie enjoyable enough to watch it more than once and not regret it.
For fans of Daniels, this is a must see, fans of the anime who are open minded should give it a look, and those looking for a fun Post Apocalypse Martial Arts mix with good production values and a great score should also have a look at the movie. It's pretty entertaining, and it's just a shame it wasn't handled a little better, or it could have been truly great, Sci Fi classic. It's certainly not the horror-show anime purists make it out to be.
Take Malcolm McDowell who dies rather pointlessly and very quickly, rather like the plot of this film. He is the only real star "name" in the film although I did recognise Chris Penn but I don't know what I've seen him in before, possibly Reservoir Dogs.
Wrestling fans may recognise a brief appearance by Leon White also known as WCW and WWE Superstar Big Van Vader. His fight scene is most likely the best and well organised fight in the whole film. It's hard to really give an outline of the plot as there really doesn't seem to be one - just some guy travelling a future wasteland from camp to camp then eventually getting involved in overthrowing the evil ruling regime.
This is essentially a manga comic or anime film that has been made into a live action movie and it was obviously a really bad idea. There is no script to speak of, a bad story (which tries and fails to explain stuff to allow you to understand whats happening), some really bad acting (by pretty much everybody involved) and some really bad fighting scenes (although Leon Whites fight scene is one of the films few redeeming features). I really wish I hadn't bothered watching it.
"The Fist of the North and South are not meant to fight" but they do, and when the 'Fist of the North Star' loses to his friend whom has turned bad, he seeks revenge. A bloody revenge comes into play when the 'Fist of the North Star' comes back from the dead. His deadly punch will simply make you explode in pain, Literally that is. Yes whatever his deadly fist touches simply blows up unless your quick enough to block off certain veins. Even doing this leaves his enemy looking Dumb ugly and deformed. If you like blood your gonna love this movie because it is absolutely packed with it. If you like Violence in general your going to love this movie because funny enough its packed full of that. Finally if you like Manga cheesy lines then you'll love this because it has some of the funniest lines I've ever heard, the pick of the crop being the one I quoted at the top. It may not be seem funny but when the man follows to say "Defend yourself" its pretty dumb funny. Don't worry 'Fist of the North Star' has an excellent storline to it, so you'll still love it anyways, believe me, if you love Manga your going to love 'Fist of the North Star' its one of my favourites by far. Full of head exploding, Limb choping action, 'Fist of the North Star' is a Manga film you need to have in your collection.
This was the first anime film I saw. It was different to any other cartoon I had seen before. Mainly due to the excessive violence that somehow captivated me. My favorite part being when two people have a fight in the middle of a field. The hero Kenshiro jumps over the evil beast and lets off some sort of a flash from an electronic whip or something (it wasn't too clear come to think about it). Anyway, Kenshiro lands on the other side. Villain is confused. 'Missing something?' says Kenshiro as he throws the villains now severed arms back at him. Sheer brilliance. The film is about Kenshiro and his quest to avenge his father and save his bird in a world where violence is the answer to everything because of a nuclear war that nearly destroyed the planet. Kenshiro is 'The fist of the north star' while the evil Lord Shen is 'the fist of the sourthen cross'. Along the way Kenshiro is confronted by loads of people who he disposes in a violent manner. It's quite good, but not great or anything. Top violence though.
Fist of the North star was an early release from Manga Entertainment following on from the success of Akira. Unfortunately it lacks any of the qualities that made Akira or many of the subsequent anime releases good. Set somewhere in a post apocalyptic future where the world is a barren waste land generally ruled over by psychotic gangs. We follow our hero Ken as he goes in search of his kidnapped girlfriend, held by a long time rival. On the way Ken encounters many of the evil men who inhabit the land and gets into fights with them. He proceeds to win these fights through a series of absurdly fast martial arts movements accompanied with much screaming. The results are the opponent suddenly finds themself bursting apart in unlikely ways. The martial arts are all over the top, but unfortunately not in the way a Hong Kong movie might be. There's no eegance or style to them, just a lot of screaming and speed lines and then someone bursts open. The film is clearly aimed at a market for violence, but the violence just isn't entertaining. The animation style is somewhat dated now and may be a matter of personal taste. In general I prefer newer, cleaner looking animations, but I know of older titles I enjy (Lupin III ones spring to mind). I'm not really a fan of the style of Fist, full of giant men covered in muscles and bursting apart. It really does nothing for me and doesn't help a film already lacking in plot. The quality of the dub and the music is nothing special, I can't really remember anything about it that stands out. Perhaps one for fans of violence in anime, but even then there's violent anime with far more action in. If you enjoy over the top martial arts action with lots of blood perhaps you'll like this. Personally I found it just to silly and far too dull to hold any interest.
In the future, the earth has been decimated by a huge war. The surviving people crowd into small villages, whilst biker gangs roam the earth, taking what they want with extreme force. Out of the wilderness walks Ken, a man betrayed by his best friend Shin, who stole from him his girlfriend Julia, he alone stands between the forces of good and, well, just plain nastiness. And he does this by hitting people. Hard. Both an old japanese TV show or an old japanese movie, it doesn't really make much difference either way. This show relys largely on violence. Ken is a master of a long dead martial art, and can deliver deadly blows to his opponents bodies. Ken defeats his opponents in increasnig nasty ways, typically leaving them with a few moments of life left to contemplate their life before their body rips itself apart. Frankly, its very violent. But despite this, it has annoying kids. It jars somewhat with the violence and makes who wonder who the target audience is. The violence should put it outside the kids market, whilst the kids alienate the adults. What on earth were they thinking? About the only advantage I can think of is that the show is so straight faced you can't help but find some of it funny.
This is a fairly decent film. I'm not a huge animation fan, so I can't really compare it to very much. However, I have to say that I enjoyed watching it. The animation is pretty good, the soundtrack's not too bad, the story is half-decent and the violence is superb. My mate convinced me to watch it for the action sequences, and I was definitely impressed. It's all a bit cod-mystic and stuff, but if you can overlook its shortcomings, it's worth a watch. Don't go for this if you haven't seen akira yet, but otherwise, this is a fairly decent film.
Based on graphic novels by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara, and edited down from a multi-episode series, this extremely violent animated feature tells the tale of Earth following a nuclear war, where gangs of marauders prey on helpless groups of nomads. Not for kids! The earth lies shattered and broken, a ruined wasteland that is now struggling to sustain life. Humanity is near the end after a devastating global meltdown. The oceans have been boiled away in nuclear fire, the land is charred and disfigured, saturated with deadly toxins. Life is a nightmarish struggle. The radiation levels have created hideous mutated human savages, mentally deranged in their roaming search for food and water. Gruesome violence brings terrible death to those who encounter these murderous mutants. It is an orgy of chaos, madness on a global scale. Savagery knows to limits. There are no nations, no laws, no order. In this grim reality, the forces of good and evil are once more preparing to fight for the future of mankind. Far, far away a star shines out from the blackness of space. A beacon for the lost, a symbol of hope, an unfailing comfort to those on a journey. Known as the North Star, it has through the ages meant many things to many men. Under this eternal light walks the namesake of this star, a man of power and purity. A living beacon of hope, destined to bring light into the darkness. He is a feared man. A legendary fighter able to call on secret powers, he is an unrivaled practitioner of a martial art that fights violence with worse violence to enforce justice. Kenshiro is the man with the seven scars, the heir to the ancient martial art of Hokuto Shinken. He is the Fist of The North Star. Fist of the north star (series) is now showing on 4later on channel 4 after bits on sunday nights! Or you could buy the movie on video
Manga has never been to my taste, however, alot of my friends watch them and Manga films became all the rage just when I was at the age when everybody wants to be in on whats all the rage, so I have had to sit through alot of them and thus I know what they are all about and can appreciate what people like in them. This said I can safely say that 'Fist of the North Star' is a definite item on any conoissuer of the genres to see list. It features all the corny and gringeworthy lines and storylines you expect and all the stylised violence you love to see those groovy oriental cartoon guys perform, people who get punched and there heads explode and everything, of course, done in a perfect way to impress all you Manga connoissuers. This opinion may not seem useful but I think that people who like Manga will know what I'm talking about. Most Manga connoisseur. I know rate this as one of the best.
Directed by Toyoo Ashida and with the voices of Akira Kamiya, Yuriko Yamamoto, Kenji Utsumi, Chikao Ôtsuka, and Toshio Furukawa this Japanese animation is set is a post-apocolyptic world where the weak are oppressed by the powerful and all of mankind is at the mercy of the dead planet that the earth has become.