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Christopher Webster [DVD News 05.21.09] post apocalyptic action



Year: 1995
Directors: Tony Randel
Writers: Peter Atkins / Tony Randel / Tetsuo Hara
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Review by: quietearth
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Give yourself over to the utter insanity of Tony Randel's 1995 adaptation of Fist of the North Star and you may be surprised at how much good stuff there is to be found within its otherwise questionable frames. Honestly, I've seen some wacked-out films in my time, but this movie is a truly demented hybrid of American and Japanese adventure cinema. It's like The Road Warrior (which yes I know is actually Australian) meets Ricki O! It's got sweeping post-apocalyptic vistas, marauding bands of crazy mutants and manga style kung-fu complete with exploding skulls, blood geysers and fists penetrating bodies. I may not be an expert on the manga, nor have I ever watched the anime, but I know weird-ass movies (particularly of the post-apocalyptic genre) and I can tell you unequivocally that Fist of the North Star is one of the weirdest ones out there.


As the film starts, we're treated to a moody narration from Malcolm McDowell who lays out the story behind the devastation. Delivered with all the pomp and gravitas we've come to expect from the man, the opening made me love the fact that Neil Marshall used McDowell's voice in the intro to Doomsday even more. It's like PA history coming full circle. Check out the intro below.



Really, you have to give a shout out the art directors on this one. Most of the time you feel like you're trapped in some horrible dystopian fever dream with bad acting and even worse hairstyles. I think it's the great use of models and sparse sets full of smoke that really makes the film visually unique. A lot of it looks "fake" but in that fantastic surreal theatrical way. Interesting to note here that much of Fist of the North Star was filmed in the same way as, say 300, and, while the effect may not be as seamless, the same surreal other-worldliness shines through. Did I just compare FOTNS to 300? You're damn right I did!

Of course we have to discuss the fights in the film because this is supposedly a martial arts film. The fights are pretty standard except for the fact that they take their cues from anime's penchant for exploding blood fountains and cornball humor. Again though, the juxtaposition between the brutal PA environment and the humor makes for a truly unique viewing experience if you're willing to just go with it. The fight scene below is pretty characteristic of the odd stuff going on in this movie.



You don't really need to know what the film is about other than good vs. evil, fulfilling destiny, and a race to save a princess who we really don't care much about. I don't even remember the characters' names (though I do remember thinking that it was weird that white guys had Asian names). What I DO remember is an INSANE performance by the late great Chris Penn, some surprisingly ultra violent imagery (like mutants putting a blind 10 year old girl in a guillotine) and remaining gob smacked throughout the entire 88 minutes. No this is not a "good" film in any way, but it is definitely a strange experience.


Recommended Release: Fist of the North Star





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rcdude (8 years ago) Reply

Where did he get the cloak?

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The Director (8 years ago) Reply

WOW - you got it!!!


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