Yet another Japanese animated video-game-based feature, FATAL FURY: THE MOTION PICTURE offers an exciting, if by-now-familiar, storyline featuring four young martial arts champs traversing Europe, Asia, and the Near East in search of pieces of ancient armor with magical powers.
Sulia Gaudeamus, a young girl from Rhodos Island in the Mediterranean, seeks the aid of international street fighter Terry Bogard to stop her twin brother Laocorn from locating the six pieces of the legendary armor of Mars. Once outfitted in the armor, Laocorn will attain the powers of a god and
fulfill a prophecy from the era of their ancestor Gaudeamus, the first king of Rhodos, who secretly brought down the conqueror Alexander. Terry agrees to help and brings along his brother Andy and their friends Joe Higashi and Mai Shiranui, all accomplished martial artists.
Their mission takes Terry and his party to such far-flung locations as Frankfurt, Bagdad, and China, each time failing to prevent Laocorn and his three warrior-lieutenants, Panni, Jamin, and Hauer, from retrieving the hidden pieces of armor. During this time, Terry and Sulia fall in love, although
Terry cannot bring himself to reveal his feelings, due to the guilt he nurses over the death of his girlfriend Lilly, who gave her life for his.
The pursuit culminates in a final confrontation at the Dead Sea, where Laocorn retrieves the final piece of armor and acquires enormous supernatural power. Having defeated Laocorn's warriors, Terry and his companions fight their hardest to overcome Laocorn, but are unable to stop him. Sulia uses
the power derived from her deep psychic bond with her twin to empower Terry to deliver the blow which will break the hold of the armor over Laocorn. However, drained by the power transference, Sulia dies in an eerie repeat of the fate of Lilly.
Derived from a video game, as were SAMURAI SHODOWN and STREET FIGHTER II: THE ANIMATED FEATURE, FATAL FURY: THE MOTION PICTURE is a follow-up to two earlier FATAL FURY animated films, both made for home video. Similar to a host of other Japanese animated works detailing the exploits of a group of
young people in combat with ancient powers, this film manages to remain compelling throughout its length of 100 minutes thanks to a fast pace, a far-flung storyline with exotic locations, and plenty of well-designed fight scenes. Its design favors bright colors and sunny exteriors, eschewing the
dark, high-tech noir look that distinguishes the best anime.
There is frequent combat, but it's low in gore by Japanese standards. The three female characters frequently appear in scanty costumes, with the buxom little Mai constantly threatening to burst out of hers, but there are no sex scenes.
The major flaw with this video release is the amateurish dubbing by the American voice cast, all of whom sound like California high school kids trying out for a class play. This is a problem with a large number of anime video releases and needs to be addressed more rigorously by American
distributors if Japanese animation is ever going to be taken seriously by critics and gain a wider audience in this country.(Nudity, violence.)
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