7.3/10
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Fist of the North Star (1986)

Hokuto no Ken (original title)
Not Rated | | Animation, Action, Drama | 27 September 1991 (USA)
A practitioner of the deadly martial art "Hokuto Shinken" allies with two children and an expert in "Nanto Suicho-Ken" to fight against the rivals who kidnapped his lover and threaten the prosperity of mankind.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Kenshiro (voice)
Yuriko Yamamoto ... Yuria (voice)
... Raoh (voice)
Chikao Ohtsuka ... Jagi (voice)
... Shin (voice)
... Rei (voice)
Tomiko Suzuki ... Lin (voice)
Teiyû Ichiryûsai ... Bat (voice) (as Mie Suzuki)
Arisa Andô ... Airi (voice)
Junji Chiba ... Ryuken (voice)
Hidekatsu Shibata ... Zeed (voice)
Junpei Takiguchi ... Heart (voice)
... Fox (voice)
Hiroshi Ôtake ... Jackal (voice)
Daisuke Gôri ... Uyghur (voice)
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Storyline

After a nuclear holocaust tears the world apart, mankind is forced to the harshness of not only the oppression of others who are much more powerful, but the dead earth which seems to be getting worse with every passing moment. But a savior has risen from the ashes, a man who will defeat those who would torment the weak and make the world a livable place once more. A man named Kenshiro..... Written by Chuck "Dark-Side" Williamson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He'll blow your mind... Right out of your skull! (Discotek Media re-release DVD) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

27 September 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fist of the North Star  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(some footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Similarly, Kenshiro makes a cameo in Vampire Hunter D as a villager during the scene where the Count's messenger arrives in the village to give the candle to Rei Ginsei. See more »

Goofs

At one point during his fight with Raoh, Kenshiro's arm bands are back on even though moments earlier they ripped off when he activates his Hokuto Shinken, a moment later they vanish again. See more »

Quotes

Kenshirô: You are already dead.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Honest Game Trailers: Batman: Arkham City (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Heart of Madness
Written by Tsuyoshi Ujiki
Performed by Kodomo Band
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Genre fans will enjoy it for the gore and style, casual viewers will find that these do not cover the other problems
13 August 2009 | by See all my reviews

Mankind has finally destroyed itself and those that have survived find themselves on a barren, dead planet. All men are afraid and this leads to tribalism where strength and power over others is all, leading in turn to cruelty and violence. With this as a backdrop, powerful Fist of the North Star Kenshirô, is left for dead when his equally powerful friend Shin defeats him and takes his lover Julia for himself. Kenshirô somehow survives this and returns to seek justice, aided by fighter Rei, whose sister has been kidnapped by Kenshirô's brother Jagi (who was the one who poisoned Shin against Kenshirô in the first place). Meanwhile Raoh's rebuffed claim to be the rightful Fist has left him bitter and hungry for power with his army and individual powers seeing him grow in strength and power, creating a world of repression that is at odds with the hope manifested in two young children who find themselves under the care of Kenshirô and Rei.

Somehow or other I managed to watch and comment on the live action remark of his famous film/series. That version was pretty poor so I decided to go back to the source material and see how that comes across. Everything opens well, with a visual depiction of a nuclear holocaust that has a real sense of scale and suffering about it and I hoped that it would use this backdrop well. Sadly it doesn't really manage it and, while there are plenty of things to appreciate about the film, it never manages to get away from a key problem – one that you may already have a feel for from my plot summary.

The genre and the approach of the film suggests that a tight plot with a simple narrative would suit it best. However what we get are lots of characters moving around, causing the film to feel a little slow and complicated. It is not that it is hard to follow per se, just that there seems to be a lot of plot and characters for a film that does so little with all of them other than use them to create a convoluted narrative. It is messy and it doesn't bring much to the film than an impression of clutter and mess that it could easily have done without. Those kids and their entire "subplot" could have been cut from the get-go; although calling their material a "sub-plot" suggests that it is a plot worth following which, other than their roles early on as trigger for one character's return, they do not work in any way of interest.

What it does do well though is create some stylishly cool violence and gore. It won't be to everyone's taste but certainly fans of the genre will love it. Technologically the animation has been superseded so will look a little dated but this is not to say that it is "bad" or even "of its time" because certainly does not feel like something that is over 20 years old. The violence is cool even if it is a little silly as well – but this comes with the territory. I loved the scenes of the aftermath of destruction though, these were mostly creative and impressive in their scale. The voice work was also surprisingly solid – often English dubs are awful but, with the exceptions of Julia and the kids, everyone was pretty good.

Overall though this is a solid piece of anime but not the classic that many claim it to be (a look at the 10* reviews here will show you what I mean). The imagination behind it and the delivery of gore is impressive but it is undermined by the passage of time making it less impressive to modern eyes but also the problem of such an unnecessarily cluttered plot that leads to some overly-sentimental nonsense as the conclusion. Worth a look for genre fans but casual viewers will not see the film that the fans are seeing.


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