Art of Fighting Anime Review
Batoru Supirittsu - Ryouko no Ken
Battle Spirits - Fists of Two Mighty Warriors
US Release By
On the mean streets of Southtown, Ryo is a dirt-poor martial artist who's been reduced to hunting for lost pets to make ends meet. His rich playboy buddy Robert has no such worries, but when the two of them witness a man who upset Mr. Big getting offed, they're both in hot water. Things go from bad to worse when the mean men think that the pair are in possession of a diamond they're after, and kidnap pretty young Yuri as collateral. The two street brawlers are going to have to get down and dirty if they want to save the girl... or stay in one piece for that matter.
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Art of Fighting is yet another somewhat dated-looking, cheesy action flick from the early '90s. The plot is a tired retread, the visuals lackluster at best, and the whole thing lacks any sense of style or quality. Fortunately, it's more of a buddy flick than a martial arts movie, the action is a bit more creative than endless brawling, and the two loser heroes pretty much don't take anything very seriously, making the whole thing more fun than it probably deserves to be.
If you like cheesy but good natured action flicks, you might well enjoy Art of Fighting, and it's not a bad one to heckle with some friends. If you want quality of any kind, though, your odds of finding it here would please a casino.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Art of Fighting: Yet another of those dated-looking, cheesy action flicks from the early '90s. This one has a plot that's so tired they probably had to put it on some kind of stimulants to get it moving. Fortunately, the drugs must have done something to the characters, too, because it's more fun than it should have been.
Art of Fighting manages to rise above its own mediocrity mainly because the two main characters are so far from the slick, ready-to-take-on-the-world streetfighters that populate most fighting-game-derived anime that you can't help but like them at least a little. Both of them can kick some serious tail in a pinch, but with Ryo being downright pathetic and Robert a complete poser, there's never any danger of anyone taking themselves too seriously. In fact, the two of them never really seem to take any of the production seriously. Since it's so cheesy the viewer wouldn't have anyway, that works out just fine.
Despite being based on a fighting game, Art of Fighting is more of an action-filled buddy flick than a martial arts movie--good call, if you ask me. The result is a complete lack of seriousness (regardless of how hard the bad guys try--Robert incessantly asks a chilly female minion for her phone number, for example), some passable action, and some silly predicaments about the level of a Saturday morning cartoon. That all comes together to make a very low quality movie that's kind of fun to watch anyway.
Of course, I can't say much else good about it; it's kind of cartoony (in a bad way), most of the other characters (the weird police Lt. excepted) have zero personality, and the story serves up a total of about two mildly creative moments (which actually isn't that bad for a movie like this). In fairness, there's an attempt at some mystery, but there's really nothing else of note.
Case in point: Ugly visuals. The art has a palette of bright, faded-looking colors and is mediocre at best, the character designs aren't anything to write home about either, and the animation is pretty bad. The backgrounds are low on detail, but at least the roughly-drawn look works with the run-down locations. Even the action is frantic (in a bad way), poorly choreographed, and generally weak. A bit surprisingly, quite a bit of the action is something other than people punching each other, and a couple of the more creative scenes even border on cool. This helps a lot since most of the fistfighting doesn't look like much.
The acting is the one other thing that's not entirely bad; the Japanese cast is at least passable despite some slightly stiff acting, although Ryo is kind of flat, and Yuri sounds bad in all of the three or four lines she has. The English version isn't particularly noteworthy either way, though Ryo is an improvement over the Japanese version. The music is similarly so-so--the jazzy score isn't badly done, and the end theme is a passable bit of classic Japanese rock.
In all, Art of Fighting is another mediocre action flick that looks bad, has a tired retread of a plot, weak action, and generally lacks quality in any form. On the bright side, there's more to the action than brawling, so it's not entirely boring, and the two main characters have an amusing rapport and a complete lack of seriousness that makes watching their exploits kind of fun; I at least enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. If you like cheesy but good natured action flicks, you might well enjoy Art of Fighting, and it's not a bad one to heckle with some friends. If you want quality of any kind, though, your odds of finding it here would please a casino.
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Passingly similar to City Hunter and Lupin III in the combination of action with a lack of seriousness, but nowhere near that level of quality.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a series of "Ryouko no Ken" video games by SNK, released on a variety of systems between 1991 and 1996.
US DVD Review
The DVD, one of USM's earliest, is minimal to say the least; The video is a little harsh but otherwise decent, and it includes English and Japanese audio tracks plus a poorly-translated English dubtitle track. There's also a track index, but no Japanese cast, and no special features at all.
Mildly violent, but too silly to be of much worry to parents. Probably in the 10 and up category, if that.
Violence: 2 - There is one murder, but nothing is graphic or very serious.
Nudity: 1 - Nothing significant.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - None.
Language: 1 - Not worth mentioning.