published in Empire No.76, Sydney
New Fist of the North Star is a 3-part remake of the original film from 1987, which in turn was based on the sprawling manga. In most respects, this remake is fairly close to the movie version. At least the stoic impassive force of martial arts master Hokuto Shin Ken is retained as the central figure in this story.
Modelled loosely on Mad Max’s Road Warrior, Ken roams a wasteland where water has become more precious than gold. With cities reduced to rubble, the brute rabble rule. Ken stumbles across an impoverished town held to ransom by the overlord Sanga, who controls his minions through terror while residing over the only non-toxic water well for thousands of kilometres. A true despot, Sanga is the ultimate match for Ken’s pacifist yet pugilistic stance, so numerous skull shattering and head-exploding encounters are splattered across the series. Ken’s technique – a rare one inherited from a lineage of ancient monks – is like a WWWF acupuncturist: precise and lethal. Stylistically thin, New Fist of the North Star propels itself mostly through action and characters wielding force. Nonetheless, it is a pleasing remake of one of anime’s archetypal post-apocalyptic titles.