Fist of the North Star Anime Movie Review: Done by Rancel
Fist of the North Star Anime movie is a 1986 Japanese Anime by Toei Animation based on the animated Japanese Hokuto No Ken TV series known here in the States as Fist of the North Star. It is directed by Toyoo Ashida who also directed the TV series and Vampire Hunter D. It also is a Manga/Japanese comic book series of the same name.
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 alterations done with the order of events and how the story unfolds (including the roles of several characters). I first saw this anime when I owned this movie on VHS Video back in the early 90’s. It was released into the U.S. by Streamline Pictures in Dubbed format.
Fist of the North Star Anime movie begins after a global-scale nuclear war, the majority of the earth has been destroyed and the remaining humans that live fight over the few uncontaminated food and water that is left. Kenshiro, the master of the deadly martial art Hokuto Shinken, is traveling with his fiancée Yuria (or known as Julia in the U.S.) and is quickly defeated by former friend Shin of the Nanto Seiken who wanted Yuria for himself. All the while this fight was going on his older brothers Raoh and Jagi were looking on without intervening. After Kenshiro is defeated and Raoh leaves, Jagi throws Kenshiro into the canyon below hoping it would kill him. Soon after Raoh seeing the opportunity that is there now with Kenshiro out of the picture, confronts and kills their master Ryuken after going to their Dojo. Now announcing himself as the successor and proclaiming he will become ruler of the new world. Raoh is now known as Ken-Oh (The End of the Century Conqueror), and sets forth with brute force to conquer the earth.
A year passes and Ken is found wandering in the desert. He rescues two young kids named Bat and Lin from bandits. After allying himself with Rei (a Nanto Seiken fighter) he learns that his brother Jagi has been impersonating him to tarnish his image and also kidnapped Rei’s sister Airi. Kenshiro defeats Jagi in his lair. Before Jagi dies he tells Kenshiro that he is the one that persuaded Shin to turn against him and try to make Yuria his. Yuria is now living reluctantly with Shin in his stronghold of Southern Cross. In other parts of the world, Raoh has amassed a huge army, expanding his control over territories by defeating rival warlords and begins heading to Southern Cross. Yuria overhears that Kenshiro is still alive after arguing with Shin and refusing his gifts.
Yuria attempts to sneak out of the castle only to be captured by Raoh after he badly wounds Shin in battle. Kenshiro has now arrived at Southern Cross to defeat Shin in battle and take Yuria back. The battle does not last long between Kenshiro and the now already injured Shin. It ends with Shin telling Kenshiro that Raoh has taken Yuria to Cassandra, the City of Wailing Demons. Kenshiro says his goodbyes to the now remorseful Shin who dies and heads to Cassandra to save Yuria and defeat Raoh in combat. Rei, Lin, and Bat who are already there watch in awe as Raoh and his army march through the streets. Lin decides to break into Raoh’s dungeon with Bat later that night after seeing that Yuria is held captive by Raoh. They both meet Yuria in her cell and leave her with a plant grown from a seed Yuria gave to Ken before leaving with Shin in the beginning of the film when Kenshiro is nearly killed by him.
As they try to escape Raoh see’s them and notices the plant and sentences Yuria to public execution the next morning. Raoh is very upset about seeing this plant because plants aren’t supposed to be able to grow after a nuclear holocaust and he doesn’t want the people to have hope for the future. Rei challenges Raoh, after defeating his second-in-command but is no match for Raoh and is killed in battle after a heroic effort. This outcome is different from the Anime TV series which I have seen in its entirety. In the movie Rei dies right away while in the TV series Rei is fatally wounded by Raoh in a way that he will suffer a while before he dies. He appears in a few more episodes after this battle with Raoh before finally succumbing to his fatal wound. Kenshiro arrives at Cassandra shortly after to hold the dying Rei in his arms right before he challenges his elder brother Raoh to fight. Kenshiro and Raoh unleash their full fighting aura and battle until most of the town is destroyed. They both exhaust all their power and strength in the struggle before Raoh finally gets up one more time to deliver a death blow to a now unconscious Kenshiro. Kenshiro is saved by Lin when she interrupts Raoh. This entire fight is ridiculously over the top with the chi aura stuff and the amount of blood loss and neither dying. There are two endings to this battle also that were filmed for this movie version of the anime series. Here Raoh in the theatrical release had plenty of time to finish Kenshiro off before being interrupted by Lin. While in the revised version that is included on the DVD they both fight to a standstill. Then are interrupted by Lin who tells them to stop because they are both important elements in the world and must not die yet.
This anime series and movie are my favorite of all the anime I have seen over the years. I have the most respect for the character Kenshiro and the concept the story represents of never quitting. It is very much like the Mad Max movies with the similar theme of after a nuclear holocaust with bandits raping and pillaging. The characters in the story even dress a lot like the Mad Max movie characters. Kenshiro is like a mixture of Bruce Lee and Mad Max with one side being a great martial artist with heroic qualities and seemingly limitless chi power. The other side teaching good values like Mad Max does to the people he helps to never give up. No matter the tragedy/trauma just keep going forward and see hope. Fist of the North Star Anime movie is very enjoyable to watch although some might find the amounts of gore and blood a bit too much and hilarious. It has lots of fighting and plenty of people getting punched, smashed, or exploding into pieces. The film is not for little children though. Fist of the North Star Anime movie is very unrealistic too. You also wonder why Kenshiro’s brothers, bandits, and villains in the film are giants. They all seem to be like 8 to 9ft tall. When you see Raoh the first time in this film you are going to say to yourself what a monster. He is such a mountain of muscle. Something you will learn real quick from watching this movie and series is if you are a bad guy and Kenshiro touches you it means, “You are already dead”, as he says throughout the anime.
Fist of the North Star is considered by some to be a kind of linear cheesy type anime and also one of the most violent ever. The music in the film is done by a Japanese (J-Rock band) named Komodo Band. They contribute a really cool sounding kind of Hair Metal type song called “Heart of Madness” during the Rei vs. Raoh fight scene. I suggest to anyone to pick up the DVD of this great anime and watch the series somehow. Fist of the North Star Anime movie is a good introduction into the franchise, but you must watch the TV series and the rest. It is highly addictive. The story doesn’t end with the first Kenshiro vs. Raoh fight. Kenshiro comes back for round two and delivers the knockout blow to Raoh. You will also learn from the TV Anime Series that Raoh is not really a bad guy or a villain. You can’t classify him as one after you watch the series. There are also new OVA (Original Video Animation) DVD’s of Fist of the North Star being released from time to time that continues Kenshiro’s story. Try to also pick up the Xbox 360 game Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage. I own it; it’s pretty fun to play.
Rei vs Raoh scene from Fist of the North Star Anime Movie 1986 (With cool song “Heart of Madness” by Kodomo Band)
Filed Under: Animation
About the Author: Hello and welcome to Rancel's Movie, TV Show, Animated Films, and Japanese Anime Review Website. I love writing, watching films (especially foreign cinema and horror), playing video games, listening to music, repairing computers, and spending time with people I love. I have always been into the world of cinema, animated films, and TV series. So now as an adult I am an amateur film reviewer and intend on getting a degree in journalism.