Fist Of The North Star (1995)

Rating: ****
Director: Tony Randel
Music: Christopher Stone
Cast: Gary Daniels, Costas Mandylor, Isako Washio, Chris Penn, Malcolm McDowell, Downtown Julie Brown, Melvin Van Peebles, Clint Howard

A great looking and extremely well made B-movie adaptation of the ultra-violent Japanese manga of the same name. Lord Shin (Costas Mandylor), the master of the Southern Cross fighting technique is obsessed with reforming and revitalizing the scorched and barren earth. Unfortunately, his methods are a bit harsh, and many struggling villagers are killed or enslaved to meet Lord Shin's ends. His rival is Kenshiro (Gary Daniels) who is the Fist Of The North Star, and it's his destiny to restore the balance of power by taking down Shin and rescuing the impossibly pretty Julia (Isako Washio) from his clutches. A beautifully filmed and great looking movie with a killer musical score and good performances by everyone. The one complaint I have about the film is that the martial arts sequences seem a little weak. Although well staged and performed, the camera work and editing fail to take full advantage of the fighters' abilities. Otherwise, a great film.