Fighter in the Wind
Fighter in the Wind Korean Movie English Sub Download
Fighter in the Wind is a dramatic and stylized portrayal of the life of Kyokushin karate founder Masutatsu Oyama, or as he is known in this movie by his original Korean name, Choi Baedal. As a biopic of a man who wrestled bulls and whom the New York Times declared in 1961 to be “the toughest man in the world,” it falls far short of giving an accurate portrayal of someone whose real-life exploits are more fascinating than any fiction. That said, Fighter in the Wind is an immensely entertaining martial arts movie that’s full of breath-taking action and heart.
In 1975, Mas Oyama collaborated with his student Sonny Chiba on a trilogy of films about his life beginning with Karate Bullfighter. As would be expected of a Sonny Chiba movie, they were exploitive and highly exaggerated accounts of Oyama’s life. By this point in his life, Oyama had become something of a folk hero in Japan after having trained in solitude for two years like a modern Musashi Miyamoto, defeated countless martial arts challengers all over the world, wrestled as many as 52 bulls, and gone on to found Kyokushin karate which is still going strong to this day. His early exploits in Japan, during and right after World War II, had become the subject of manga serials that turned him into a martial arts super hero. It’s understandable then that ten years after his death, Korea would honor their own with a movie in keeping with the spirit of Mas Oyama, rather than the facts.
Where Karate Bullfighter focused on Choi Baedal’s life after he trained in the mountains for two years, Fighter in the Wind begins earlier with his journey from Korea to Japan where he had hoped to become a fighter pilot. But discrimination and the end of the war put an end to these plans and Choi (Yang Dong-geun) winds up on the street with fellow Korean immigrants, all trying to survive. Brought low by bullying yakuza and by Kato (Masaya Kato), a Japanese army officer and karate master, Choi is rescued by his old mentor and fellow Korean, Bumsoo (Jeong Du-hong). He introduces the teachings of Musashi and Japanese karate to Choi, who regains his self respect by rescuing Japanese girls from lustful American servicemen. He even finds love when he meets a geisha girl (Aya Hirayama). But when Bumsoo is murdered by yakuza, Choi retreats into the wilderness with the mission of becoming the very best fighter. He returns with a hardened body and incredible strength to take on and defeat all of Japan’s finest martial arts masters. But when he’s finally forced to kill an opponent, Choi humbly seeks out the widow and her son to find redemption. Having eventually paid his dues, Choi returns to take on his nemesis, Kato, who is now president of Japan’s martial arts union.
Fighter in the Wind is the third collaboration between director Yang Yun-ho and actor Yang Dong-geun, after the dramas Zzang (1998) and White Valentine (1999). The soft-spoken Dong-geun seems at first to be a poor choice for the role of such a rugged individual as Mas Oyama, but he does a great job in giving the character a quiet and emotional intensity. He also performs well in the film’s many demanding action sequences. They’re all tightly edited from short takes, but clearly assembled and they appropriately convey the strength and power one would expect to see. Oyama was known for his debilitating punches and powerful kicks to the head and we get to see both, clearly executed and dynamically shot as Dong-geun levels one opponent after another. He not only takes on karate practitioners, but all of Japan’s top martial artists. That means we get to see him pummel judo, aikido and ninjitsu fighters as well as they vainly try to employ their various styles against Oyama’s brute hitting power.
It’s great to see Jeong Du-hong (Spin Kick, No Blood No Tears), one of Korea’s top martial arts directors and actors playing Oyama’s mentor. He unleashes some awesome moves midway through. He’s the man who hands Oyama a copy of Musashi’s “Book of Five Rings” and encourages him to succeed. Here more than anywhere else, the film shows its nationalist spirit for not only does Jeong play an ass-kicking and righteous fellow, but he trying to preserve the Korean culture among immigrants even as he draws from the best of Japanese martial arts to improve himself and those he mentors.
Technically speaking, Fighter in the Wind is a masterful work. From cinematography to sets, it’s first-rate. Korean cinema is churning out some of Asia’s best-looking films at the moment and this is one more example.
Fighter in the Wind Cast
Dong-kun Yang, Aya Hirayama, Masaya Kato, Tae-woo Jeong, Doo-hong Jung
Fighter in the Wind Details
Also Known As: Baramui Fighter
Directed by: Yang Yun-ho
Genre: Action, Biography, Drama