The movie starts off with Mas Oyama, or has his name was back in his earlier years Choi Baedal, announcing his plans to become a fighter pilot in the second World War. When things don’t work out, Baedal is left living in Japan on the streets.
Baedal faces racism and tough times from the Yakuza and Japanese/British armies as their troops walk around as if they own the place. After losing another fight he is saved by his former Tae Kwon Do instructor, and begs him to teach him his martial arts.
Instead Baidal’s instructor, Bum-soo, gives him The Book of Five Rings by the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. After defending a young girl (which he starts to gain some interest in), he starts fighting off oppressive soldiers as a way to practice and improve his existing skills.
After Bum-soo is killed, he leads a group of his fellow Koreans to fight off the men responsible. Then Baedal follows in the footsteps of Musashi, and heads off on his own to harden his body and perfect his skill.
When Baedal returns, he takes a new name: Masutatsu Oyama. He then travels fighting against other martial artists to prove his skill. Butr he inevitably finds himself in trouble and has to fight off an old, and very skilled rival – Kato.
Choi Baedal vs Mas Oyama.
When we’re first introduced to Baedal he has a little bit of skill, but nothing special.
What makes this movie so interesting is the events and choices Baedal makes that improve his fighting ability and turn him into the legend Mas Oyama. He faces oppression and poverty until he decides to head off into the mountains, which very directly shows his motivation.
Even after his return he kills an opponent in a confrontation, which he is released for as it classed as self defense. Seeing how he handles this, and vowing not to fight again was interesting, but his inevitable return to face Kato is always just around the corner and you can’t wait for him to change his mind and take him up on his challenge.
So this movie not only demonstrates the improvement of Baedal’s skills but also his character as a fighter – learning the physical skill first and developing an understanding of the responsibility that comes with it. The story is told extremely well.
Yang Dong-geun does an awesome job playing Baedal and he even resembles is look and build! But more so, he demonstrates an excellent on screen style during the fight scenes!
The Action & Martial Arts
As mentioned above, the progression in Baedal’s ability grows through out the film, and so the choreography of his fighting ability does also.
While he does perform better and sharper movements throughout the film, the realism is also kept (mostly). The fight scenes show Oyama, now incredibly skilled, winning his fights but also copping some real punishment to do it.
This ‘non-superhuman’ hero style of fighting brings a bit more authenticity to the story and paints what I think would be a more accurate picture. As a friend of mine (and respected martial artist) often says “I’ve never seen Jackie Chan goin’ off in a fight down town”.
The fights you see Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins and Tony Jaa pulling off in their movies are fantastic to watch (and my favorite style of action), but don’t really represent reality in terms of hand to hand combat. This movie is more grounded, offers a bit of excitement with the realism and is a breath of fresh air to watch.
Well Choreographed action combined with real Karate movements make this a real movie for the practicing martial artist but also caters quite well to the action junkie.
It has my recommendation!
Check it out for a good story about a great, real life fighter. Most of all I find it’s strength lies in the fact that it is a hard hitting martial arts movie that sits with the best in the industry, telling a true story without over glorifying it. Totally awesome.
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Fighter in the Wind
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Fighter In The Wind [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)