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Fighter in the Wind (2004) – English Review

fighter in the wind

Justice without power is empty and power without justice in only violence.

A Korean man living in Japan grows tired of the humiliations and beatings inflicted upon him by the Japanese. He decides to retreat to a mountain where he resides for some time. When he eventually comes back down, he has seemingly become almost invincible. What happened up there?

“Fighter in the Wind” is based on true events surrounding Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate (full-contact karate). There are many stories about this resilient man, but I won’t delve into them in this review. However, I encourage you to read a bit about him as it’s quite fascinating. It is said that he even knocked out bulls and lived in the mountains for an extended period, training to become stronger. They called him Godhand. Now that’s a cool nickname!

I’ve watched “Fighter in the Wind” three times, and I’ve never been the biggest fan of the movie. This time, I noticed all the flaws.

“Fighter in the Wind” has several issues. The director tries to convey too much, but the movie’s runtime of only two hours is too short. There are numerous characters, and most of them come across as cartoonish. In fact, the whole movie feels like an animated movie. Just take a look at the character with the blind eye and his ridiculous hair. Seriously, does he think he’s Nicholas Tse? Get a grip, man!

If you’re looking for a solid and comprehensive biographical movie with impressive martial arts scenes, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The characters don’t feel human, and unfortunately, the fight scenes have a distinctly Korean style. South Koreans have never been quite skilled enough when it comes to making martial arts movies. There are too many close-up shots, making it difficult to see what’s happening, and the fast cutting is terrible. It’s the usual tactic used to hide the fact that many of the actors and stuntmen probably aren’t skilled martial artists. This is nothing new when it comes to South Korean martial arts movies. It has never been their strong point, so it would have been better to let the Japanese handle this movie if they wanted to. However, the protagonist is Korean, even though it seems like he feels more at home in Japan. The movie presents several strange elements that don’t seem to align with reality.

The movie lacks interesting characters with substance. It fails to build up rivalries for the protagonist. Instead, he visits one martial arts school after another, defeating their best fighters in a lengthy montage. Don’t expect the usual tension and rivalry development between the protagonist and multiple martial arts instructors that you would find in a good martial arts movie. There’s only one major enemy and a foolish character who thinks he’s Nicholas Tse, but neither of them is intriguing. They are portrayed as mere cruel Japanese villains without any depth.

“Fighter in the Wind” doesn’t take you on an emotional journey. It’s only when the protagonist takes a life that you start to perceive some heavier drama. The aftermath of this event becomes the most interesting aspect of the movie before it concludes with a disappointing showdown between the protagonist and his nemesis. While there is a positive element there, it’s not compelling enough to justify watching the entire movie just for that reason.

Overall, “Fighter in the Wind” falls short as both a martial arts movie and a biographical movie. It includes many aspects that should never have been given the green light, and it saddened me to see how poorly this movie turned out. Here lies a great and fascinating story that deserved to be treated with seriousness. The production should have stopped when it started to resemble a cartoon. Where were the responsible adults? The movie looks and feels like a blend of a cartoon and “Fist of Legend,” resulting in a terrible outcome. Rest in peace, Masutatsu Oyama. You deserved better than this disappointing movie.

Rating: 4/10

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