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Watch Fist of the North Star - Alternative Versions.
Anyone who's read the original manga or, er, 'witnessed' the anime may
question the wisdom of a live-action remake, what with all the slightly
extravagant fisticuffs involved. But don't worry: it hasn't been turned
a blood-free pacifism-fest with Kenshiro strutting around in sandals and a
tweed waistcoat preaching the ways of non-violent protest to the
post-holocaust plebs. Oh no. There's plenty of fights in here, mate. And
some of them are even quite entertaining.
There have been concessions to your average action film punter who's
probably never even heard of the original, however. The storyline has been
simplified (in the sense of at least one major character being dropped and
couple of others rolled into one) and a more familiar Hollywood flavour
given to the future wasteland scenario, so that the whole thing
teeters on the brink of suddenly turning into Mad Max II. But it doesn't,
that's alright. It manages to stick to the basic story thread of one bloke
being the Fist of the North Star, another bloke being the Master of
Cross and 'the teachings' apparently dictating that the two must never
fight... for a while, anyway, then it happily bins this ridiculous idea
gets everyone in to have a good old-fashioned scrap. So it's all pretty
straightforward at the end of the day.
Straight-to-video martial arts ponce Gary Daniels does somehow look the
as Kenshiro, and as his Aussie twang isn't called into play too frequently
you don't keep expecting Home And Away's Alf Stewart to turn up with chins
retracted and demand that "You get out of my store, young Ken." His
Shin, is played by some other even less famous bloke, while Reservoir
Chris Penn gets to be another nutter and the unavoidable Malcolm McDowell
chips in a deeply strenuous performance as a bloke who gets killed in the
first five minutes. Apart from that it's a cast of nobodies. Spot the
But despite offering nothing spectacular or stunningly innovative to the
world, Fist isn't as bad as it could have been. It's definitely a bit
all round, yes, but the exploding heads and bursting arteries are fairly
well done and that's all any version of the story ever had going for it
really, so at least you can't complain about the budget being spent in all
the wrong places.
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