Fist of the North Star (1986 film)
|Fist of the North Star|
Japanese film poster
|Directed by||Toyoo Ashida|
|Produced by||Chiaki Imada|
|Written by||Susumu Takahisa|
|Based on||Fist of the North Star
|Narrated by||Taro Ishida|
|Music by||Katsuhisa Hattori|
|Edited by||Masaaki Hanai|
|Distributed by||Toei Company|
Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳 Hokuto no Ken?), later known in Japan as Gekijōban Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu Hokuto no Ken (劇場版 世紀末救世主伝説 北斗の拳, lit. "Fist of the Northern Ladle Theatrical Version: Legend of the Century's End Savior") and in the US as Fist of the North Star: The Movie, 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 has turned most of the world into a contaminated wasteland, with Earth's survivors now fighting over the few uncontaminated food and water supplies still remaining. Kenshiro, a master of the deadly martial art Hokuto Shinken, is traveling with his fiancee Yuria when they are confronted by a gang led by Ken's former friend Shin , a master of the rival Nanto Seiken style. Shin proclaims that he has been in love with Yuria for a long time and with no law to intervene now, challenges Ken over her. 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-in-training Raoh, having witnessed the fight without intervening, returns to his dojo, where he finds his sensei Ryuken mediating. Raoh challenges Ryuken's decision to choose Ken as the Hokuto Shinken successor over him and kills him, proclaiming he will become the ruler of the new world.
A year passes and Ken now wanders the wasteland as a hero who protects the weak and innocent from those who prey on them. He rescues a couple of young children named Bat and Lin from bandits and allies himself with another Nanto Seiken master named Rei, who is searching for his kidnapped sister Airi. Ken learns that Airi's kidnapper is none other than Jagi, another former brother-in-training who has been impersonating Ken in an attempt to tarnish his reputation and draw him out. Ken heads to Jagi's hideout and defeats him, rescuing Airi in the process. 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, the city 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, who now leads his own army as well. 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 city, only to be taken captive by Raoh, who challenges Shin to combat. A while later, Kenshiro arrives at Southern Cross, only to find the city in flames and Shin's soldiers 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 captive and has headed 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, but he is no match against him. Ken rushes to Cassandra, but arrives too late to save Rei. After Rei dies, Kenshiro and Raoh unleash their full fighting aura to battle each other, destroying most of the town in the process. Both exhausted of all their power and strength, Raoh manages to knock Ken unconscious. But before Raoh can deliver the finishing blow, Lin interrupts the fight and implores him to spare Ken's life. 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.
- 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.
- 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 interrupted by Lin. The revised ending was produced at the request of the film's director, Toyoo Ashida, who felt that it was uncharacteristic of Raoh to spare Ken's life when he had the opportunity to finish him off. 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". 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". 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".
- "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".
- Fist of the North Star soundtrack
- Gekijōban Hokuto no Ken [Fist of the North Star: The Movie] (DVD) (in Japanese). Japan: Toei Video.
- "AAW: Fist of the North Star (Movie) Review". Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- "Washing ton Post (‘Fist of the North Star’ review)". The Washington Post. October 25, 1991. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- Dargis, Manohla. "New York Times (Review of Fist of the North Star)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-03.