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having issues with what I've had issues with, they can say, 'Eddie got help.
I should get help. There's hope.' I'm ashamed of what I did, but I'm not
ashamed of what I've done to correct my mistakes. I'm proud of who I am." -
Baramui Fighter (2004)
Justice without power is empty, but power without justice is only violence!
Baramui Fighter/ Fighter in the Wind is based upon a Manga that tells the story of real life martial artist Masutatsu Oyama, who was the founder of Kyokushinkai Karate, a Karate style that is most famous for it's rigorous training and full contact tournaments. The movie starts off with a young Choi Bae-dal (Oyama's Korean name)who wants to be a pilot to serve his country in the 2nd World War. After the war ended, his dreams of joining the airforce are shattered and as he proceeds and overcomes all kinds of obstacles in his life (discrimination; death of people close to him) we start to witness his growth into the martial arts legend he would one day become. The story may sound simple, but the movie manages to keep it always entertaining and intriguing. Part of this is due to the cast which consists of relatively unknown (Dong-kun Yang as Bae-dal, Aya Hirayama as his girlfriend Yoko) and veteran actors (Doo-hong Yung and Masaya Kato). However, everyone pulls of his role with great enthusiasm, although Masaya Kato doesn't seem to be used to his full potential by the writers. Another positive mention has to go to the great music that en-companies the film throughout. It really fits the mood in each scene and helps bringing out the emotions intended by the director. The scenes that stick out the most in Fighter in the Wind are the training montage in the mountains and, of course, the fights. People who are used to the Wire-Fu of recent Chinese blockbusters will maybe disagree with this because the battles are kept in a realistic style where a fight is over after only a few blows. The fights are all well choreographed and have a gritty, realistic feeling to them, other than most HK movies. It really makes you feel the impact when Bae-dal lands a devastating blow or a jumping kick.
Sadly, Fighter in the Wind has some drawbacks that hinder it in becoming an instant martial arts classic. One would be the stereotyping of Japanese: All of them seem to be out to make the Koreans life a living hell. Of course, there were this kinds of problems, but you don't have to remind us every 10 minutes during the film. (Although this topic isn't new to MA movies, as seen in Bruce Lees The Chinese Connection). The other and much greater flaw is the over-Hollywood-isation of Oyama's life. I've always liked the approach of Asian cinema of doing things different, but some scenes in the movie are just ridiculous and could be straight out of some summer blockbuster. If you can live with the aforementioned flaws, then you'll definitely enjoy it. Overall, Fighter in the Wind is well worth your time if you are interested in Martial Arts movies, (Kyokushin) Karate itself, or are just out for a good, entertaining action (but also character driven) movie.