Fist of the North Star (1995 film)

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Fist of the North Star
Fist of the North Star (live-action movie poster).jpg
Directed by Tony Randel
Produced byMark Yellen
Akihiro Komine
Screenplay byPeter Atkins
Tony Randel
Based on Fist of the North Star
by Buronson
& Tetsuo Hara
Starring Gary Daniels
Costas Mandylor
Chris Penn
Music byChristopher L. Stone
Cinematography Jacques Haitkin
Edited bySonny Baskin
Distributed by Overseas Filmgroup
Release date
April 21, 1995 (Japan)
February 2, 1996 (USA)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6.5 million

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.

Contents

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.

Plot

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.

Cast

Reception

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. [1] 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. [2]

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References

  1. Dave Foster. "Fist of the North Star Review". The Digital Fix. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  2. "Movie Review - Fist of the North Star (1995)". eFilmCritic. 1999-10-22. Retrieved 2019-07-23.