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Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The fabulously incoherent and ultra-violent 1986 feature film adaptation of FIST OF THE NORTH STAR is finally out on DVD in a gorgeous edition featuring both the original Japanese language track and the atrocious English dub provided for the flick's blink-and-you-missed-it release to American movie theaters back in 1991. If you read this blog with any regularity you already know how much I love FIST OF THE NORTHSTAR, but I should take this opportunity to make a few things about my love of it perfectly clear.

FOTNS is pretty much a post-apocalyptic martial arts superhero opus featuring endless amounts of graphic and ludicrous violence that was shocking even to Japanese when it first showed up, especially because it was geared as a comic strip for kids of around twelve and under. It was the first manga (and later anime) to feature the flurry of fists/limbs in fight sequences, and it liberally cribbed from any source it could for its inspiration, most notably by having it hero, Kenshiro, be an obvious fusion of Bruce Lee and Mad Max, that element being the tip of a mountain of what would in this country be considered flat-out copyright infringement. Yeah it's rather stupid and repetitive, but it makes me happy when it's done right. Unfortunately, and any dyed-in-the-wool FOTNS fan will tell you the same, it's only been done right in bits and pieces, specifically the manga from the point where Kenshiro's brothers enter the narrative up through Kenshiro's final victory over Raoh (after which the series was unwisely continued due to its popularity, thus dragging it on for another twelve largely uninspired collected volumes out of a total of twenty-seven), the lively and very entertaining TV series (which suffered the same problems as the manga, but also padded things out with filler episodes so the show did not get ahead of the manga's weekly chapters), and that's pretty much it in terms of the best that FOTNS has to offer. But, much like American comics fans who stick with a lame duck series in hope that it will return to its former glory, we FOTNS groupies are a diehard lot, ready and willing to get duped again, as was proven by the willingness of myself and others to sirt through the retconned, boring and virtually violence-free recent animated reiterations of the 1980's classic.

As for the animated feature being reissued here, rather than write out a full-length review, I direct you to the review found over at AIN'T IT COOL NEWS that not only gets exactly the appeal of FOTNS, but also says pretty much everything I would have had to say on the movie. I'm either hot or cold on AIN'T IT COOL NEWS due to their no longer valid critical capacity and spelling/grammatical error-rife text, but the writer of the piece on the FOTNS DVD gets a serious thumbs-up from me for being among the few American commentators on the subject who clearly knows and understands what he's talking about. That said, click here to read it for yourself. (Just make sure to scroll down a little bit.)

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