APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 22: Fist of the North Star (1995)

Hokuto no Ken is one of the most important manga in the history, selling 100 million copies, consistently being picked as one of the best manga — and anime — of all time and making more than $20 billion in total revenue.

And in the U.S., hardly anyone knows what it is.

In fact, when Sega released the video game adaptions, they called them Black Belt and Last Battle. They also edited them to remove the torrents of gore, because when hero Kenshiro calls upon his studies of the ancient art of assassination called Hokuto Shinken, he uses the body’s hidden meridian points to blow people up real good.

He’s the hero so bad ass that he tells his enemies before the battle, “You are already dead.”

The American straight-to-video live action version of the story may not be the best place for people to first be told the story, but here we are, with Kenshiro (KBA California State Light Heavyweight Champion and PKA World Light Heavyweight Champion Gary Daniels) seeking revenge in a post-World War 3 world, torn apart when the two martial arts schools dedicated to keeping the peace go to war with one another. Southern Cross fighter Shin (Costas Mandylor) has turned against his own fighting style and murdered North Star master Ryuken (Malcolm McDowell), with his son — Kenshiro — left to gain revenge. The big boss then attacked Kenshiro, leaving him with a scar in the shape of seven stars and topping that by kidnapping his lover Julia (Isako Washio).

Joining with the orphaned Bat (Dante Basco, Ruffio from Hook) and Lynn (Nalona Herron), he wanders the wasteland and battles Shin’s Crossmen, murdering each of them in spectacular fashion. Shin sends Jackal (Chris Penn) and more soldiers to take over Paradise Valley and — spoiler warning — Kenshiro kills just about every single one of them. As for Jackal, he just makes his head all mushy.

I really think this movie was cast just for me, what with Tracy “Bob the Goon” Walter, “Downtown” Julie Brown, Melvin Van Peebles (yes, the man who made Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song), Clint Howard, Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga of WWE fame, also an absolute real life villain who had an SS tattoo on his calf and was elected to the Finland House of Parliament as part of a party with very fascist views), Big Van Vader and Susan French, Aunt Elizabeth from House.

This was directed and co-written (with Peter Atkins, who wrote Wishmaster) by Tony Randel, who also made movies that I gush about like Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Amityville 1992: It’s About Time, plus writing the English version of Godzilla 1985Hellraiser III and Grunt! The Wrestling Movie.

There’s a much better animated movie of this story, but this is still worth a watch for curiosity.

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