|Fist of the North Star|
|Directed by||Tony Randel|
|Produced by||Mark Yellen|
|Screenplay by||Peter Atkins|
|Based on|| Fist of the North Star |
& Tetsuo Hara
|Starring|| Gary Daniels |
|Music by||Christopher L. Stone|
|Edited by||Sonny Baskin|
|Distributed by||Overseas Filmgroup|
|April 21, 1995 (Japan)|
February 2, 1996 (USA)
Fist of the North Star is a 1995 American straight-to-video live-action martial arts film based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara. The film was directed by Tony Randel, who also co-wrote the script with Peter Atkins, and stars Gary Daniels, Costas Mandylor, Chris Penn, Isako Washio and Malcolm McDowell. A Japanese dub of the film was produced by Toei Video which featured the cast of the 1980s anime television series reprising their roles.
The film, which loosely adapts the first story arc of the original manga, centers on Ken (Daniels), the lone master of the "North Star" martial art school, who wanders the post-apocalyptic Earth in search of his nemesis Lord Shin, the man who killed his master and kidnapped his fiancee. Meanwhile, Shin rules as dictator of the city of Southern Cross with his personal army known as the Crossmen, who are given orders to hunt down Kenshiro.
In the aftermath of World War III, the world has plunged into anarchy and chaos. Water is scarce and what is left of the human race scrounges for survival. Two opposing martial arts schools, North Star and Southern Cross, both devoted to bringing order to the world, were previously thrown into disarray after Southern Cross adept Shin turned against his masters and summarily executed North Star master Ryuken, leaving his son Kenshiro as the sole heir to the North Star. Shin then sought Kenshiro himself, defeated him and left him for dead after carving his chest with seven scars in the shape of the Big Dipper. Shin also abducted Kenshiro's fiancee and their shared love interest Julia, segregating her in his tower. Since then, Shin rules the land with an iron fist through a militia called the Crossmen, led by Jackal, a ruthless henchman whose bulging head is held in leather bandages after Kenshiro disfigured him in an earlier fight.
Back in the current time, Kenshiro, who survived Shin's aggression, wanders the wasteland aimlessly. After killing a gang led by bandit Zeed, who attacked the homestead that had given him shelter for the night, Kenshiro continues on towards the town of Paradise Valley, home to one of the few remaining sources of pure water. There, he meets orphan siblings Bat and Lynn. After using a pressure point technique to restore Lynn's sight, which she lost after watching her parents murdered by Crossmen, Kenshiro departs, ignoring Lynn's plea to remain and protect them. Bat follows Kenshiro to talk him into joining the organized resistance against the Crossmen's incursions, to no avail.
The Crossmen raid Paradise Valley and occupy it, commandeering the well. Jackal orders Lynn's execution for sedition, but halts it after she threateningly mentions Kenshiro, taking her prisoner instead to extort Kenshiro's whereabouts. As Lynn's screams from afar ring inside Kenshiro's head, Kenshiro turns back: he and Bat infiltrate the occupied town and free Lynn, but Bat is mortally wounded in a fight against Jackal. Kenshiro spares Jackal and sends him back to Shin to announce his arrival.
By Shin's order, Jackal takes Julia to the tower's basement to hide her from Kenshiro. There, he engages in a cat-and-mouse game in an attempt to rape and kill Julia. Kenshiro breaks into Shin's tower and confronts him in the throne room. As Kenshiro gains the upper hand in the ensuing showdown, Shin lies about Julia's fate and takes advantage of Kenshiro's shock to overpower him. However, after noticing a bud that has sprouted from a seed he had given Julia long before, Kenshiro regains hope and defeats Shin, killing him. After freeing herself from Jackal by removing his bandages and causing his head to swell and explode, Julia rejoins Kenshiro. The surviving Crossmen bow to Kenshiro and Julia in deference.
The film was not reviewed by many mainstream critics, and it got mixed reviews from fans and online critics. Dave Foster of DVD Times panned the movie as a poor adaptation and commented that Kenshiro's pressure point techniques "look rather tame" in comparison to the way depicted in the manga and anime series.A reviewer from eFilmCritic remarked that Kenshiro's defeat at the hands of Shin "comes off as standard" and "unbelievably goofy" compared to the 1986 animated movie version. Actor Gary Daniels's nickname on the set was “Condom Man” in reference to the prosthetic used to create the famous chest scars being made from unrolled condoms.
Fist of the North Star is a Japanese manga series written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. It was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump for 245 issues published from 1983 to 1988 and initially collected in 27 tankōbon volumes under the Jump Comics imprint by Shueisha. Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth after a nuclear war, the story centers on a warrior named Kenshiro, the successor of a deadly martial art known as Hokuto Shinken, which gives him the ability to kill his opponents by striking their secret vital points, which often results in them dying in an exceptionally violent and gory manner. Kenshiro dedicates his life to fighting against the various gangs, bandits, and warlords who threaten the lives of the defenseless and innocent, as well as rival martial artists, including his own "brothers" from the same school.
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