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Fist of the North Star
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Reviews & Ratings for
Fist of the North Star More at IMDbPro »

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Mad idea. But it almost works...

Author: Leigh Loveday from UK
8 June 1999

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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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

(Hollywood Movie Version)

Author: ZeroedZero from Sweden
8 December 2003

(Attention: Following comments may contain information about any part of the story")

"Fist of the north star" was originally released in eastern Asia (1987). A strong anime movie and soon to come as series. This perfectionated piece of work was one of the most complete and solid art I have ever had a chance to study. All Characters followed their own way on the same path towards a goal I call love. There was honor, love, bravery and ignorance. Revenge, hunger and determination. All of them disclosed in their most pure way.

Every word was perfect and the result of generations of toil and thinking. That it was painted was not an obstacle but very helpful because you cannot find actors that can represent these solid characters in real.

1995. Hollywood released a film version of "Fist of the north star" with real actors. This movie claims that it is based on the anime. The real facts are that this movie is disappointing and awakes fury and anger in every pure heart. Many characters are changed hiding behind the original "names" and some Zealous keycharacters are even removed. At this stage of censor (which I can't comprehend the reasons of) , main characters are shown as cowards and violators against the Jin and jang principles which the anime is based upon. This entire violated story has become a family affair with jelousy, superficial se*ual desires which in this case are against Asian, and even American standards.

The Scenography is bad and the actors are extremely weak. Love is displayed as something that has come out of a baywatch story.

This movie is not recommended before the study of the original anime work.

For an ignorant person, I guess that wouldn't make any difference.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Watchable, disposable

Author: Libretio
29 December 2004


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Ultra-Stereo

Low-budget Americanization of the Japanese manga 'Hokuto no Ken' - already the subject of an earlier anime feature and TV series - in which a mystical warrior (British-born martial arts expert Gary Daniels) defends the survivors of an unspecified global holocaust from an evil warlord (Costas Mandylor) who intends to rebuild the planet in his own image. Photographed by A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET's Jacques Haitkin through layers of murk designed to conceal a multitude of budgetary deficiencies, and 'distinguished' by flashy editing and gymnastic camera-work designed to conceal the lack of a comprehensible plot, Tony Randel's unconvincing future noir trades the visionary outlook of the original graphic novel for the same lumbering, humorless approach which typified this particular subgenre before US producers *finally* learned how to imitate their Asian counterparts. Though brutal in places, particularly during the final confrontation between Daniels and Mandylor, the film actually *downplays* the gory carnage of its source material, which will disappoint those expecting a more faithful adaptation.

A popular figure in this kind of DTV potboiler, Daniels was clearly hired for his fighting skills rather than his acting, and he's upstaged throughout by many of his co-stars (including Chris Penn, Melvin Van Peebles and Malcolm McDowell). Thankfully, Randel makes a virtue of Daniels' handsome face and muscular torso, and there's an unmistakable whiff of homoerotic tension in the aggressive relationship between Daniels and his equally handsome nemesis.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Really unimaginative and cheap feeling

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
23 February 2003

In the future the world has become a waste land after the apocalypse. The populated territory is now under the rule of the martial arts clan of the Southern Cross, led by Lord Shin. When the Master of the North Star is murdered the baton is passed and the new master has very personal issues with Shin. When he passes through a small terrorised village he comes to their aid and sets up a confrontation with Shin.

Even though I had read bad reviews about this film, I still had reasonable hopes for it, using the logic that I was prepared for a dumb martial arts movie. However some bothered me about the film was that it didn't seem to live up to the potential that the story had. The film should have been a more majestic story about mysterious clans doing battle in the future, but instead it felt very small and restricted. The story doesn't seem to go anywhere and lots of avenues are left unexplored.

The sets etc don't help as they were clearly pretty cheap and only the opening shot of Malcolm McDowell sitting in his oriental house really had style or imagination – the images of apocalypse were too cheap to be impressive. The fight scenes are pretty average I'm sad to say. While Honk Kong cinema was on the edge of things, this film was back in the 1970's with its standard fights. In the anime the fights are much more impressive and the film should have tried to capture much more of a sense of wonder. The effects are a little too gory for my taste and don't fit with the story, because the film lacks a sense of mysticism it feels ordinary – hence the problem when it tries to do something that is different or weird.

The cast has some well known faces in small roles but the lead actors aren't up to the task of delivering good dialogue, they have awesome bodies and can move quite well but they can't act! This takes away from the film a great deal and stopped me getting into the characters. Daniels and Mandylor are two of the guiltiest ones but it is spread through the cast of villagers, including Melvin Van Peebles. McDowell looks like he might add class but is a temporary narrator and faces like Penn and Howard are only of interest rather than stealing the show.

Overall this is a pretty poor film. It lacks the majestic, epic sweep that it should have had and feels small and cheap. The effects are OK but the fights really lack flair or imagination – witness people queuing up to come one at a time and you'll understand what I mean. The poor acting, bad dialogue and basic average delivery of every part of the film really makes this feel bad – I was in the mood for an undemanding martial arts movie to waste 90 minutes and even I was disappointed by this!

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Good but not as good as the Manga.

Author: shang from Brisbane Australia
23 May 1999

This movie isn't bad. Very high production values, good camera angles,good set/costumes, cool special effects and visual style as well as decent acting. To be honest I was quite surprised to see this level of quality for a straight to video release.

It tries to be faithful to the original manga without completely ripping it off which was great and presented something which was familiar, yet original.

One negative comment is that the american film makers still don't really know how to shoot martial arts fight scenes. Gary daniels has skills that are far better than what the film showcases.( just watch jackie chan's city hunter)

Overall I gave it a 7/10.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:


Author: MacFlux (
4 August 2002

I thought this film was pretty good. Although, I do agree that the anime is better. I think the actors really did well for their parts. It's a lot different though from the anime. I recommend picking it up when you've got the chance. Watch it at night, it sets the mood better.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

lame adaptation....lame otherwise too.

Author: filoifaga from New Zealand
16 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a pretty lame effort to stay faithful to the original if you ask me (if that is even what they were going for); whoever said it was loyal to it's source doesn't know what they are talking about. Mind you, the cartoon movie was quite a hash up itself compared to the series (or comic!) and can be hard to follow if you don't already know the story, so if that's all they decided to go on then you can't really blame them too much. Compared to the original story, though, I have to say that the characters were all weak; the bad thug guys don't look mean enough (but they sure were ugly enough!); the main characters are not tough (ahem,super- human?) enough; the kung fu is not ridiculous (or, oxymoronically, believable) enough; Julia is not beautiful enough and to top it off, I'd have to say that Kenshirou's master Ryuuken is not really "zen" (or bald) enough either (and what's with that weird zombie scene?!). All that said and adaptation-shmadaptation aside......the fight scenes still sucked, the directing was bad, and the acting worse... I'm reeaaally sorry, but you should probably just watch something else!!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Extremely inaccurate

Author: Micky Quigley
23 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a fan of the original, i spent this full movie pointing out mistakes, like with Shin, where he should have straight blonde hair, it is curly and black, and Ken should have been clean shaved, and Lynn should have pink hair.

Also Ken is wearing a black leather jacket, which should have been a lighter blue with an orange shirt underneath, and I don't understand how such mistakes could be made my accident, so someone had to sit down and decide to do this?

Also his fight with the fat Crossman, Ken is thrown around and stuff, would never happen.

Also there is electricity and radio etc. throughout, where there are none in the anime, and guns are used a lot, which are rare to be seen in the anime, when Jagi in the anime produces his shotgun, people are shocked that he has shells.

Jackals character makes no sense, is in the wrong place, doing the wrong things, and what the hell is up with the face thing he wears?

AND FINALLY Kens scars keep getting called wounds, and look like someone has just stuck some pink gum on his chest. I love the original so had to give this a chance, but will never watch it again.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Just Awful

Author: drumax-759-417828 from United States
12 September 2011

I cant even bring myself to write much about this gem but to say it was just awful. Easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen. There was a point while watching that I thought 'is this a joke? are they making fun?' but I concluded that this was no joke. The acting was as bad as the writing and the effects were just terrible. The lead character who could not act to save his life had what were supposed to be scars, they looked like condoms stuck to his body, some of which seemed to be peeling off!! How much did Malcolm McDowell need a paycheck to show up even for the 3 minutes he was on screen? Or Chris Penn who was probably the only half way believable character, even in the outlandish costume he was forced to wear? This film is a complete mess so I would say, unless you want to watch one of the worse movies ever made...avoid this one.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A remake is needed!

Author: hokutobill from Tokyo, Japan
20 April 2004

I was exciting when this came out in 1995 and saw it in Tokyo. This was my favorite Japanese comic at the time. Unfortunately, this was one of the worst adaptations I could have never imagined. Although there were a few good fight effects, it did not make up for the poor screenwriting and plot. I want to remake this film with a big actors, and all the characters needed. This could be like a Lord of the Rings trilogy. The comic is tight, and the story is deep. So please don't watch this film. Read the comic and then let your imagination soar!!!

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