Fist of the North Star (1986 film)

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Fist of the North Star
Hokuto no Ken (1986 movie pamphlet).jpg
Theatrical pamphlet distributed in 1986
Directed by Toyoo Ashida
Produced by Chiaki Imada
Written by Susumu Takaku
Starring Akira Kamiya
Narrated by Taro Ishida
Music by Katsuhisa Hattori
Cinematography Tamio Hosoda
Edited by Masaaki Hanai
Distributed by Toei Company
Release dates
  • 8 March 1986 (1986-03-08)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Box office ¥1,800,000,000

Fist of the North Star (劇場版 世紀末救世主伝説 北斗の拳 Gekijōban Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu Hokuto no Ken?, Fist of the North Star Theatrical Version: Legend of the Century's End Savior) is a 1986 Japanese animated film adaptation of the manga series of the same name. It was produced by Toei Animation, the same studio who worked on the TV series that was airing at the time, with the same cast and crew working on both projects. The film adapts the storyline of the manga from the beginning of the series up until Kenshiro's first match with his rival and elder brother Raoh, with many liberties taken with the order of events and how the story unfolds (including the roles of several characters). However, the film retains the more violent content of the original manga, which the television series lacked.


After a global-scale nuclear war, the majority of earth's surface has become a wasteland, with most of the world's survivors fighting over the few uncontaminated food and water supplies. Kenshiro, the master of the deadly martial art Hokuto Shinken, is traveling with his fiancee Yuria (Julia in English version) when they are confronted by Ken's former friend Shin of the Nanto Seiken. After defeating Ken in combat, Shin engraves seven wounds on Ken's chest and leaves him for dead, taking Yuria with him. Ken's eldest brother Raoh, having witnessed the fight without intervening, returns to his dojo and challenges his Master Ryuken's decision to choose Ken as his successor over him. Raoh kills Ryuken and proclaims he will become the ruler of the new world.

A year passes and Ken is found wandering in the desert. He rescues a couple of young children named Bat and Lin from bandits. Afterwards he allies himself with another martial artist named Rei, a Nanto Seiken master who is searching for his sister Airi. Ken learns from Rei that his brother Jagi has been impersonating him in an attempt to tarnish his reputation and draw him out. Ken heads to Jagi's lair and defeats him. Before dying, Jagi reveals that he was one who convinced Shin to betray Ken and that he is now living with Yuria in his stronghold of Southern Cross.

Elsewhere, Raoh has amassed a huge army, expanding his domain by defeating rival warlords and begins heading to Southern Cross. There Yuria is treated with a life of luxury, living under the rule of King Shin. However, Yuria refuses Shin's gifts of affection, longing to be reunited with Ken. When she overhears that Ken is still alive, she attempts to sneak out of the castle, only to be taken captive by Raoh, who challenges Shin to combat. A while later, Kenshiro arrives at Southern Cross, finding the city in flames and Shin's men dead. Shin is still alive and fights Ken, but the battle does not last long, as Shin has already suffered a mortal wound from his encounter with Raoh. Before dying, Shin tells Ken that Raoh has taken Yuria to Cassandra, the City of Wailing Demons.

Lin arrives at Cassandra along with Bat and Rei, where they witness Raoh's army marching through the streets. Lin sees Yuria being held by Raoh's men during the parade and decides to break into Raoh's Dungeon later that night with Bat. The two meet Yuria in her cell and leave her with a plant grown from a seed Yuria gave to Ken before leaving. The plant catches Raoh's attention and Yuria is immediately sentenced to a public execution the following morning. Rei challenges Raoh, after defeating his second-in-command. However, he is no match against Raoh himself. Ken rushes to Cassandra, but arrives too late. After Rei dies, Kenshiro and Raoh unleash their full fighting aura and battle until most of the town is destroyed. Both exhausted of all their power and strength, Raoh manages to get in the final blow, and incapacitates Ken. Lin interrupts the fight before Raoh can kill Ken, and implores Raoh to stop the fight. Raoh agrees to Lin's request and walks away, swearing to postpone the battle for another day. Ken leaves Lin and Bat, and continues his search for Yuria, who mysteriously vanished during the final battle.


Character Japanese Voice actor English Voice actor
Kenshiro/Ken Akira Kamiya John Vickery
Yuria/Julia Yuriko Yamamoto Melodee Spivack
Raoh Kenji Utsumi Wally Burr
Jagi Chikao Otsuka Dan Woren
Shin Toshio Furukawa Michael McConnochie
Rei/Ray Kaneto Shiozawa Gregory Snegoff
Lin/Lynn Tomiko Suzuki Holly Sidell
Bat Mie Suzuki Tony Oliver
Airi/Alei Arisa Andō Barbara Goodson
Ryūken Junji Chiba Jeff Corey
Zeed Hidekatsu Shibata Michael Forest
Jackal Hiroshi Ôtake Mike Forest
Uighur/Uygle Daisuke Gôri Gregory Snegoff
Kiba Daioh/Boss Fang Takeshi Watabe James Avery
Heart Junpei Takiguchi Dave Mallow
Fox Takeshi Aono Carl Macek
Thugmeister Tom Wyner
Torture Victim Doug Stone
Head Banger Kirk Thornton
Wise Man Steve Bulen
Golan Colonel/Captain Dave Mallow
Pillage Victim Wendee Lee
Dying Woman Yôko Kawanami Lisa Michaelson
Screamer Edie Mirman
Narrator Tarō Ishida Jeff Corey


  • Midori no Chikyuu - Opening theme, composed by Katsuhisa Hattori.
  • Purple Eyes - Ending credits theme, composed by Tsuyoshi Ujiki.
  • Heart of Madness - Ken's theme, performed by Kodomo Band.[2]
  • Nanto Suichouken - Ray's theme, performed by the above.
  • Tsuisekishatachi - Performed by the above during the car chase between Bat and Zeed's thugs.
  • Zetsubu No Buchi - Shin's theme, composed by Nozomi Aoki.
  • Okoreru Raoh-Kennou - Raoh's theme.
  • Ai to Wakare - Julia's theme, composed and performed by Katsuhisa Hattori.
  • Le Rhone - Lynn's theme, composed by Katsuhisa Hattori.



The film version of Hokuto no Ken was released theatrically in Japan on March 8, 1986, followed by a VHS release in 1988, on Laserdisc in 1995, and on Region 2 DVD on November 21, 2008. The Japanese home video versions of Hokuto no Ken featured a revised ending from the original theatrical version. In the theatrical version, Kenshiro falls unconscious during the final battle, giving Raoh the ample opportunity to finish him off until he is interrupted by Lin. In the revised ending, both warriors are still conscious when they're about to deliver their mutual finishing blows before they're both interrupted by Lin. The revised ending was produced since the film's director, Toyoo Ashida, felt that the theatrical ending was unnatural due to the way Raoh abruptly decides to spare Kenshiro's life.[3] Only the first-print editions of the DVD featured the theatrical ending.


An English-dubbed version was produced by Streamline Pictures, which was first released on home video in 1991 in North America and in 1994 in the United Kingdom and Australia by Manga Entertainment. The DVD release of Streamline's English dub was released by Image Entertainment. Discotek Media released a remastered DVD version of the film in May 2009, which, unlike the Japanese re-release, features only the original ending from the theatrical release.


The English dub version of the movie was released two years after Viz Communications' short-lived first translation of the manga, and had mixed reviews among casual viewers and anime fandom. A review from Akemi's Anime World calls it "so bad it's good, and the original in the genre" and calls quality of the dub "cheesy", but "suitable".[4] Richard Harrington of the Washington Post criticized the violent nature of the movie and quality of the animation, saying that "watching it you will feel as comfortable as a hemophiliac in a razor blade factory".[5] Stephen Nolden of the New York Times expresses that "in its carelessly translated and poorly dubbed English adaptation, the characters express themselves in diction so stiff that they seem ludicrously prissy".[6]


  1. ^ "映画ファンドとは 話題作の「北斗の拳」から仕組みを探る 日本の映画業界では今、「邦画ブーム」が巻き起こっている". 
  2. ^ Fist of the North Star soundtrack
  3. ^ Gekijōban Hokuto no Ken [Fist of the North Star: The Movie] (DVD) (in Japanese). Japan: Toei Video. 
  4. ^ "AAW: Fist of the North Star (Movie) Review". Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  5. ^ "Washing ton Post (‘Fist of the North Star’ review)". The Washington Post. October 25, 1991. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  6. ^ Dargis, Manohla. "New York Times (Review of Fist of the North Star)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 

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