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AKA: 世紀末救世主伝説 北斗の拳 (Seikimatsu Kyuuseishu Densetsu Hokuto no Ken), Hokuto no Ken the Movie, End of Century Savior Legend Fist of the North Star
Genre: Fighting / martial arts
Length: Movie, 110 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by Discotek Media.
Content Rating: R (extreme violence, brief nudity)
Related Series: Fist of the North Star TV, New Fist of the North Star
Also Recommended: Any other title from the Fist of the North Star universe, Super Street Fighter 2 - the Movie
Notes: Based on the manga by Hara Tetsuo, available from Raijin Comics.
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars
 

Fist of the North Star the Movie

Synopsis

After losing his girlfriend, Julia, to the Fist of the South Star, Ken is left for dead in the barren wastes of what was once the green and beautiful Earth. After barely surviving, he once again sets out to find her.


Review

Well, that's the bare-bone plot of it anyway, but don't worry; there are some side plots as well that won't amount to much, but will help padding out this movie inbetween all rapid punches and the exploding heads. After all, it hails from a time long past when men were men and women were usually in another castle.

It's enough to make me wish I'd invested some time in getting to know this particular universe a little better, either through the TV series or the manga. Certainly, there has to be more of a reason for Kenshiro to be propelled to the status of legend among men than a few blown minds can tell. Hell, even this movie's antagonist, Raoh, has gotten his own TV show by now, so it's clear that I'm missing out here.

In the mean time, please allow me to try to convince you why this movie can still be entertaining, even though it -- much like the Vampire Hunter D OAV -- is kind of a creampuff as far as characters and story go. A big, muscular creampuff that can crush giant statue heads under its armpits, yes, but a creampuff all the same.

Part of the blame could probably be laid at the feet of exposition. The First of the North Star movie starts off by basically filling us in on what happened after technology reached its peak and we basically blew ourselves to kingdom come, leaving nothing but roving bandits and poor, unfortunate victims behind. And this all happened in the year of... when, again?

Ah, the nineties.

....wait, what?!

In the middle of all this madness that... apparently took place anywhere between ten to twenty years ago, Ken travels in the company of his girlfriend Julia and her bag of seeds. Of course, he manages to lose his girl almost immediately when he meets up with his own trial-of-fire in the form of his former best friend, now being a bit crazy in the head.

Of course, you can't keep a good fist down, so it doesn't take long before Ken once again intervenes in the manliest nick of time ever. He literally arrives covered in mud in a way that makes him look like some kind of dirt golem with glowing eyes, which won't crack off until a skyscraper breaks and falls on top of his head, and it doesn't even break his stride. After he saves the young, plucky boy and the gentle, almost Buddha-like girl, he hands her the pouch filled with seeds. (Apparently, both of the children are far too accustomed to seeing people's heads explode through delayed reactions.) Everybody, say it with me now:

"AAAAATATATATATATATATATATA..." *punchpunchpunchpunchpunch* "HNNNNNG" *BRAINASPLODE*

As Robert noted, the movie is absolutely rife with these hilariously over-the-top violent fights. Adding to that hilarity is all the offhand punnery and sarcasm, where "you're already dead" is only the tip of the blood-soaked iceberg. (Yes, they're even doing the "need a hand" joke.) Adding to that, character designs and sizes are just amazingly inconsistent. Sure, it's mostly post-apocalyptic fantasy, but that doesn't really account for some of the characters being several times the size of normal human beings. Then again, it could be argued that even Ken, whose neck is wider than his head, kind of stretches the limits of suspension and disbelief. And it! is! GLORIOUS!

"YOU HAVE ANGERED KUNG FU JESUS!"

Despite their lumpy, muscular appearance, I kind of like the art of this movie. The inconsistencies of the characters are easy to digest when you get it served with this kind of greatly exaggerated martial arts action. But while this post-apocalyptic nightmare paints quite a pretty picture at times, I imagine the sheer amount of speedlines this show puts to use must have made the work of the people responsible for the background art a somewhat tedious task at times. The music is campy and old, yet oddly charming -- kind of an orcestrated disco piece like the kind you hear in the old Macross series' intro animation. And the dub is of course exactly the kind of awful that belongs in a movie like this; wooden acting, punnery and all.

To sum up; yes, there are downsides. The story is simplistic, yet confusing. The characters act on simple notions, which makes me wonder if you're expected to know these characters through the aforementioned TV series or manga. Hell, maybe it's like the Violence Jack series, where the manga ended up a completely different beast compared to the anime. As such, Fist of the North Star - the Movie neatly puts itself in the "great fun for some home MSTing" section. Seriously, it's a laugably bad movie, but that's where the fun lies.

YAAAAATATATATATATATATATA, you're already rated.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: As mentioned before, Fist of North Star is one very, very graphic movie. Blood is splattered everywhere on the screen in this obvious red paint sale.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Fist of the North Star the Movie © 1986 Toei
 
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