Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In short: Fist of the North Star (1995)

If there is something to suggest director Tony Randel’s adaptation of ultra-violent fight manga (and sometimes anime) Fist of the North Star is faithful to the original, then it is the fact it has left me with the same impression of utter confusion the anime left me with when I watched that ages ago.

So, plot-wise, I can tell you that the world has ended, and that evil martial artists master Shin (Costas Mandylor) is trying to unite those few parts of the rest of humanity he and his men aren’t killing, while his arch enemy Kenshiro (Gary Daniels) of an opposing school that is never supposed to fight with his first needs the repeated visits of the ghost of his dead dad Ryuken (Malcolm McDowell) – in form of Mal Mc, of a zombie, and of a levitating little boy, respectively – to be properly motivated for doing good. There’s also some business about Shin having taken Kenny’s girlfriend Julia (Isako Washio). Otherwise, people explode because they were hit, Chris Penn is evil and has a head only held together with leather straps after Kenny hit him with some of his kung fu, and Clint Howard’s character seems to be named Stalin. Yeah.

So yes, obviously, Randel’s film is a pretty fucking bizarre thing, where all people with Asian names are played by Caucasians, while Julia is Japanese, where our hero’s ultra-death attack looks lamer than anything else he does in his fights – which says something because Randel seems so clueless about how to film a martial arts fight attractively that even a dependable screen fighter like Gary Daniels looks lame – and where random minor characters we would probably know from the manga do stuff that makes little sense and has trouble even reaching the definition of “a series of events”, let’s not even use the word plot.

On the plus side, everything here is so random and so needlessly bizarre I found it difficult to look away from the screen, in fear of missing another shot of Mandylor tossing his luscious luscious hair, random gore, Malcolm McDowell’s voice speaking out of a levitating kid or the low-rent sets that are supposed to be post-apocalyptica. It’s certainly something, though I’m not at all sure what exactly that may be.

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