Fist of the North Star

Fist_of_the_North_Star_poster“Let’s kill some people!”

The Scoop: 1995 R, directed by Tony Randel and starring Gary Daniels, Isako Washio and Costas Mandylor.

Tagline: A legendary warrior battles against the forces of evil.

Summary: A non-Japanese Japanese man is guided by the ghost of his non-Japanese Japanese father in his quest to defeat a second non-Japanese Japanese man for great justice. It’s long face versus giant round chin in a contest to determine the fate of shabby humanity!

Kaleb’s Rating: Heads will pop for this outrage!

Kaleb’s Review: Not too long ago, I held another little contest on the forums. The object: Guess the six robot girl anime titles I own, plus the bonus seventh title. The prize: A review request, natch.

As far as contest I host go, it was a real groundbreaker. I think I may have had as many as five people participating at one point! Five! That’s four more than usual!

Still, the contest ultimately boiled down to a hot pillow fight of anime knowledge between Eunice and Heather, and while the latter called down enough thunder to dispel any doubts I may have had regarding her anime geek pedigree, victory would ultimately go to the proverbial dark horse (I had no idea Eunice was anime-anything!). This, due in large part to her three-point peelout right off the starting line. Let’s see if I can remember how that conversation went…

      “But wait! There is a seventh entry, not technically beholden to the criteria of the other six, and guarded by three devices of such lethal cunning, that only through the careful rumination of the hints I provide, can one possibly hope to–”

 

      “Elfen Lied.”

 

    “Crap!”

So, here we are. When I first saw the Netflix link Eunice sent me, I was like, “Hey! Fist of the North Star! I’ve always wondered about that one!” followed closely by, “Oh, the live-action version. Girls are mean.”

Or are they? I get that this was supposed to make me cry brown gravy with its awfulness, and yeah it was bad, but it was kind of likeable at the same time. You know the harmless affability Heather mentioned in her Hercules in New York review? Something like that.

The first thing you have to consider is that the setting is post-apocalyptic, which means big time leniency on my part. Also, it’s a martial arts flick, which means it doesn’t have to do much to please me. I don’t need dialogue that works or special effects that aren’t laughably odious; as long as somebody’s getting roundhouse kicked in the face, I’m good.

Granted, its being an hour-and-a-half movie with about a three minute plot does lead to some frustration on my part regarding the main character, Kenshiro. It’s made apparent early on that he could totally liberate the oppressed peoples of Wastelandland, and wail any number of the thuggardly devotees of Southern Cross (the antithetical opponents of North Star; they aren’t supposed to ever fight each other, and therefore do all the time) and their big-chinned leader without breaking a sweat (does do a fair amount of bleeding, though), and his entire rationalization for waiting so long to do so seems to be “Hey, I’d love to help, but these wastes aren’t going to wander themselves, you know!”

You know how sometimes, there are so many things you want to say, that you end up not saying anything? Yeah.

I’m reminded in particular of one of the film’s odder scenes, in which Kenshiro has a conversation with his deceased father Ryuken’s dessicated corpse. Ryuken is like, “You’re in default of your destiny, boy!” and Kenshiro responds with, “My destiny is hate and revenge!” and then Ryuken says, “Nuh-uh! Your destiny is to restore balance to the blah blah yackity shmackity blah!” Which isn’t exactly verbatim, but you get the gist.

Now, I don’t presume to tell anyone how to be a good undead father, but if it were me, as soon as Kenshiro said the hate & revenge bit, I would’ve said, “Fine! Your destiny is hate and revenge! Just do something already! Rub your hate and revenge together and see if you can light a fire under your ass!”

I mean, the whole idea is that Kenshiro needs to kill Shin to make everything nice again; are his motives really that important? Some may spout off about battles being won by attitude, but anyone with any sense knows that battles are really won with weird pressure point crap that makes people’s heads explode.

That aspect of Kenshiro’s technique is really cool, by the way (much better, in my opinion, than Shin’s equivalent Fiery Flame Bad Special Effect Palm Strike of Elbow Squirt). Not too fond of the sissy rabbit punches that lead up to it, but whatever. It is a little bit annoying that we never actually see anyone’s head explode, though. Especially when one of the head-explode victims spends the entire movie establishing how great it would be if his head exploded. I mean, I’m not trying to be a gore-monger or anything, but if we’re going to have some exploding heads, let’s have some exploding heads.

So the question remains, would I recommend this film to anyone else? In the immortal words of Will Smith, ah hell naw. But for me, it’s some tasty cheese.

You know how sometimes, there are so many things you want to say, that you end up not saying anything? Yeah.

You know how sometimes, there are so many things you want to say, that you end up not saying anything? Yeah.

Intermission!

  • Any well-meaning anime fans concerned that I claim to be the same and yet have not seen the Fist of the North Star anime: Let not your hearts be troubled, nor your mouths be griping at me. I watched Evangelion all the way through–a handful of posies held over my mouth and nose to stifle the auture stench–and the way I see it, that catches me up on my must-sees pretty much for the rest of my life.
  • At least… I think I watched it all the way through. The last two episodes are kind of a blur, which is a pretty good indication that I watched them.
  • Shin… Chin… that can’t be coincidence.
  • Actually, if my Five Words of Japanese That I Know(tm) is up-to-date, “Shin” means “Devil”.
  • Ru-fi-oooooooooo!!

Groovy Quotes

Shin: Ken. It’s surprisingly good to see you. What have you been up to?
Kenshiro: Ruining your plans.

Kenshiro: (To Jackal) Slitting your wrists would be quicker.

Jackal: Your Highness! Attempting to escape is a felony, and punishment is at the discretion
of the officer in charge! And that’s me! Jackal!

Jackal: It ain’t easy bein’ sleazy.

Jackal: Let’s kill some people! Let’s kill ‘em, and let’s enjoy it!

Goliath: Good! A real fight!
Kenshiro: Your last.

Goliath: Who… are you?
Kenshiro: The Fist… of the North Star!

If you enjoyed this movie, try:

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