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Anyone who's read the original manga or, er, 'witnessed' the anime may question the wisdom of a live-action remake, what with all the slightly extravagant fisticuffs involved. But don't worry: it hasn't been turned into a blood-free pacifism-fest with Kenshiro strutting around in sandals and a tweed waistcoat preaching the ways of non-violent protest to the post-holocaust plebs. Oh no. There's plenty of fights in here, mate. And some of them are even quite entertaining.
There have been concessions to your average action film punter who's probably never even heard of the original, however. The storyline has been simplified (in the sense of at least one major character being dropped and a couple of others rolled into one) and a more familiar Hollywood flavour given to the future wasteland scenario, so that the whole thing occasionally teeters on the brink of suddenly turning into Mad Max II. But it doesn't, so that's alright. It manages to stick to the basic story thread of one bloke being the Fist of the North Star, another bloke being the Master of Southern Cross and 'the teachings' apparently dictating that the two must never fight... for a while, anyway, then it happily bins this ridiculous idea and gets everyone in to have a good old-fashioned scrap. So it's all pretty straightforward at the end of the day.
Straight-to-video martial arts ponce Gary Daniels does somehow look the part as Kenshiro, and as his Aussie twang isn't called into play too frequently you don't keep expecting Home And Away's Alf Stewart to turn up with chins retracted and demand that "You get out of my store, young Ken." His nemesis, Shin, is played by some other even less famous bloke, while Reservoir Dogs' Chris Penn gets to be another nutter and the unavoidable Malcolm McDowell chips in a deeply strenuous performance as a bloke who gets killed in the first five minutes. Apart from that it's a cast of nobodies. Spot the irony.
But despite offering nothing spectacular or stunningly innovative to the world, Fist isn't as bad as it could have been. It's definitely a bit shaky all round, yes, but the exploding heads and bursting arteries are fairly well done and that's all any version of the story ever had going for it really, so at least you can't complain about the budget being spent in all the wrong places.
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