Fist of the North Star: The Movie

Alt titles: Hokuto no Ken: The Movie

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RyuSoma's avatar By RyuSoma on Oct 27, 2009

Synopsis: Hope no longer exists in a barren world filled with robbery and carnage.  Peace and civility are ideals long forgotten after the terrible cataclysmic nuclear holocaust that decimated the Earth’s terrain.  The present time is a post-apocalyptic era where the strong pillage, massacre, and dominate the weak.  Technology corrupts the souls of men and the ancient teachings of Fist of the North Star style have been cast aside.  But there is one man, named Kenshiro, who possess the Fist of the North Star technique and uses it to combat against evil.  The softhearted warrior fights for his beloved, Julia, who has been captured by Kenshiro’s best friend.  His friend’s betrayal serves as one of many ordeals he must overcome in order to defeat the many opponents that threaten his life and the Earth’s future.

Story (8.0) Fist of the North Star: The Movie focuses on the journey of a powerful martial artist that wants to live in peace and rebuild the world with his beloved.  The 110 minute feature sports enough bloody violence to make the viewer’s mouth drop as well as praise the brutality being dished out by the main character.  The movie depicts a setting of a destroyed world through nuclear warfare and how the survivors live their lives.  I think the film’s presentation of a post-apocalyptic scene boosts the drama and the viewer’s interest in understanding why people act cruel.  Kenshiro’s presence in the movie serves as a savior who will restore peace and revive the barren planet through planting seeds with Julia.  Julia’s capture allows anime fans to become enthralled with Kenshiro’s journey as he changes into a fiercer martial artist, but still remains pure on the inside.  His interaction with the little girl shows that the protagonist’s demeanor conflicts with society’s desperate nature to cling onto the technology that ultimately brought the world to ruin.

Animation (7.5) For a movie made in the 1980’s, the film’s transition to DVD is superb.  The character designs standout with the beautiful desert like backdrops that help to evoke the feeling emptiness.  The artist’s ability to capture a barren wasteland helps to convey the message of hopelessness.  The design of the muscular characters further promotes Darwin’s ideal of “survival of the fittest.”  The hazy color effect of men imploding give Fist of the North Star its original style and separates the anime franchise from other shows.

Sound (7.0) The sound effects from screaming death wails to bone crunching finger pokes adds to the horrific atmosphere that the creators desired to achieve.  The music is not really catchy, except for the “Heart of Madness” song played when Kenshiro goes to fight his older brother.  The DVD’s inclusion of the Japanese language audio track is a treat.  The English audio track takes liberties and does not follow the Japanese’s original concept.  However, the English dub does fine, but the Japanese voices really bring the characters to life.

Characters (8.5) The movie offers a variety of characters that anime fans either love or hate.  The characters to emphasize on are Kenshiro and his brothers.  Each one of them is different.  Their unique ambitions to become powerful leaders that oppress the weak contradict Kenshiro’s gentle nature.  In a way, anime fans can view this movie as a social commentary about the eradication of old traditions (Fist of the North Star technique/code) and adapting to the new modern world of technology.  The brothers rely on technology in order to survive and expand their power.  Kenshiro’s eldest brother uses the Fist of the North Star technique for evil, which places him as a polar opposite to the protagonist.  The final battle between the two brothers reinforces the good vs. evil theme when fans see the two characters bright and dark auras.

Overall (8.0) The Fist of the North Star: The Movie shows its age through the older style of animation.  But the telling of a post-apocalyptic story of a possible future corresponds with modern society’s views toward war and terrorism.  The motif of technology corrupting individuals becomes repetitive, however, I think the brutal bloodbaths more than make up for it.

8/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8/10 overall