Fist of the North Star is a film made in 1986 based off the preceding Manga and Cartoon Series. It’s an Anime version of a Mad Max style post apocalyptic world with a focus on powerful martial artists and their rivalries.
Kenshiro, or Ken for shirt, is the Fist of the North Star and considered to be the most powerful fighter in the land, along with the Fist of the South Star, Shin. The two men cross paths and Ken’s girl Julia (or Yuria) has caught the attention of Shin for some time. Shin, being a total prick, bashes and nearly kills Ken in order to take Julia with him as his girl. While all of this is happening, Ken’s older brothers watch and discuss taking Ken’s role as Fist of the North star, and even talk about killing him.
Ken’s brother Jagi approaches Ken, weakened from Shin’s attack, and throws him off a cliff in an attempt to kill him.
next, we’re introduced to a young boy, Bart, and a young girl, Lin, as they are being chased by bandits. Lin who cannot speak due to severe trauma. But she cries for help “with her spirit” and Ken appears covered in rock, before revealing himself and taking apart the gangsters harrassing the children.
The Fist of the North Star is back!
Afterwards Ken heals Lin and she is able to speak again. From there Ken, who is now completely recovered and far more powerful than before, heads out to find his older brothers to address their betrayal and of course get back Julia from Shin.
You’re already dead!
This movie has a very distinct and unique flavor! While the plot is pretty standard – hero goes after bad guy to get his girl, the style is one of a kind!
The character of Ken is pretty unique, as are his abilities. The men he defeats are usually attacked before a pause, to which they stand as if unharmed when their head begins to swell and eventually explode! This apparently is the power of the Fist of the North Star.
Ken’s power is intense. Although he lost his first fight in the movie, when we see him next his presence is very powerful as he walks down the street, punching buildings and knocking them over. Truly visual stuff that gets you prepared for the epic nature of whats ahead!
Some of his enemies are family, and family disputes are always interesting martial arts films. But there’s also run ins with large gangs and even Jagi’s bodyguard – a massive fat guy that absorbs all attacks with the fan on his belly.
You’ve got an interesting post apocalyptic world with freighter ships sticking out of buildings being common place, so naturally you get some very interesting (and gigantic) characters to keep this movie very colorful.
The Action & Martial Arts
There isn’t a hell of a lot of authentic Martial Arts in this film besides a few punches and kicks. However the film makers did study human anatomy in order to make the explosions and crazy deaths quite realistic.
The action is animated very well, with a few pauses and single frames mixed up with some terrific movement animated to perfection – especially for a 1986 film!
Some of the enemies Ken faces are up to 5 times his size, so the raw strength of these enemies is displayed in a very visual way. This also enhances the audiences views on the power of Ken’s technique as he defeats them almost effortlessly.
As heads explode and arms are chopped off there’s plenty of blood out there for the fans of animated gore. The tagline “The Most Violent, Action Packed Animated Film of All Time” definitely paints a picture true to the essence of this film.
There’s a hint of Bruce Lee style in there also! The high pitch screams that go with Ken’s fast kicking and punching combinations are somewhat reminiscent of Bruce while still holding it’s own unique style.
The use of pressure points and more mythical martial arts aspects makes this a top movie that is both filled with action and slight mysticism to give Ken’s training background that deeper, more traditional grounding. If you like Anime and Martial Arts film, you will absolutely love Fist of the North Star!
ALSO: There is a TV series and various animated films (and even a live action film with Gary Daniels) made in relation to this movie, so keep checking back for more reviews based around this popular franchise!