Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

One of the most prolific visionaries in anime, Shinichirō Watanabe (Samurai Champloo), has broadened the scope of the industry with compelling storytelling and intriguing characters.

Based on the hit anime series from the late nineties, this sci-fi extravaganza brings the Bebop crew to an exhilarating mission on Mars; with engaging gun battles, a surreal tale together with those requisite, hard-hitting fist fights!



Kōichi Yamadera (Steve Blum: dub) provides the voice of Spike Spiegel, a former criminal turned bounty hunter and member of the Bebop crew. Unshō Ishizuka (Beau Billingslea: dub) plays Jet Black, a former ISSP officer and captain of the Bebop.

Megumi Hayashibara (Wendee Lee: dub) plays Faye Valentine, the beautiful femme fatale and member of the Bebop crew. Aoi Tada (Melissa Fahn: dub) plays the eccentric hacker, Edward, also known as Radical Edward, aka Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivruski IV (he made it up).

Tsutomu Isobe (Daran Norris: dub) voices Vincent Volaju, a former soldier in the Mars army with a sinister plan that threatens all of life on Mars.


In the year 2071, we follow an unlikely group of bounty hunters, onboard the Bebop ship; Spike Spiegel, the central protagonist with a laid-back attitude and skilled fighting prowess; Jet, captain of the Bebop and mature member of the crew; Faye Valentine, a wanted criminal with stunning looks and a charming personality; Edward, an eccentric hacker; and their dog, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Ein.

After a vicious terrorist attack that unleashes a deadly virus, a 300 million woolong bounty has been placed on one man, Vincent Volaju.

The Bebop crew must hunt down this mass murderer and bring him in alive before his final acts of terror have a chance to come to fruition.


The combat in the movie, especially in Spike Spiegel’s case, is heavily inspired by Jeet Kune Do, a martial art created by the legendary Bruce Lee himself.

There is even an episode in the series with a scene dedicated to explaining Bruce Lee’s philosophy. While Spike’s opponents are tense, he is fluid like water.

Foiled Robbery

In the film’s opening scene, we see our protagonist, Spike, walking towards a convenience store where the staff and customers are being held hostage by a thief who is harassing a cashier, monologuing (like any good villain) while his goons keep the hostages at gunpoint.

Our relaxed bounty hunter casually enters the situation, effortlessly takes down the bad guys with flawless techniques and suppresses the fourth with his customized Jericho 941.

Although at first glance it may seem like the scene is devoid of tension, it’s important to remember that our hero is still vulnerable, and in such a narrow environment, there’s still a chance one of the thugs could still get the drop on him.

Despite the intro having nothing to do with the story, this is still a great introduction to our fluffy-haired anti-hero and the coolest cowboy around!

Elektra vs. Janitor

Spike infiltrates the Cherious Medical building as a janitor, yet is quickly intercepted at gun point by Elektra. Spike disarms Elektra, and a fight ensues between the two with Elektra’s cold and focused demeanour opposing Spike’s casual reflexes.

Spike’s versatility and adaptive usage of a broom stick hold back the ferocity of Elektra’s constant wave of paw strikes and high kicks.

This was a brief, yet enthralling fight with enough charm and thrills to ensure a fast-paced and energizing hit.

Showdown On a Train

After storming his way aboard the train, our hero and villain meet for the first time and engage in a shootout, with innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire. This train sequence is packed with many John Woo-inspired tropes, consisting of stare downs accompanied by awesome dialogue and slow motion with emotional interactions between the characters.

It isn’t until the magazines are emptied that Spike resorts to fisticuffs. With palm strikes, body blows, elbow strikes and a kick to the face, the fluffy-haired bounty hunter throws everything he can to keep the madman down. But it’s all for nothing as Vincent’s freakish endurance and terrifying strength overpower our hero, putting an end to their encounter.

This is one of the few times where Spike has not only been out-matched, but also dominated by a worthy adversary with aspirations set on terror and mayhem.

The Party’s Only Just Begun…

With the mastermind’s plot finally reaching its endgame, Spike confronts Vincent to settle things once and for all, on Halloween night.

Spike goes out blazing with a variety of flying kicks and palm strikes, trying to out strike the mass murderer, but a lack of patience allows for Vincent to parry and counter the bounty hunter with devastating results.

As Vincent keeps the pressure on his pursuer, Spike pulls out all the stops to beat him, even throwing multiple kicks at Vincent while his back is against a steel pillar.

The fight resumes after a brief interval, with Spike on the offensive again, yet this time he’s able to withstand Vincent’s blows and parry his punches, culminating in a butterfly kick.

Although the fight ends without a satisfying knockout, this near four minutes of action between the two is nothing short of excellent.

With superb animation and unrivalled direction, the back-and-forth encounter certainly captures the sheer brutality of a dogfight, and illustrates how exhausting a fight can be. Another credit to the fight choreography is that it illustrates the motivation that drives both our hero and villain.


This feature film adaptation is a monumental return of a classic that still keeps up the spirit of the original series, with high stakes, engaging dialogue, intriguing characters, thrilling action, an enchanting soundtrack and fluid animation making this an altogether majestic experience.

The voice acting from the original and English dub is strong with Steve Blum’s performance giving the character of Spike a cool, and relaxed aura.

The animation from Bones and Bandai Visual gives the setting and fight scenes a grounded and believable tone. The scenery and architecture compliment the futuristic, intergalactic tale that delivers intrigue and excitement in this compelling space adventure!

Favourite Quotes

  • “I’d blow the bounty if I blew you away.” Spike
  • “I love the kind of woman who could kick my a**.” Spike
  • “Great. A wannabe preacher with a gun.” Jet
  • “I’ll be seeing you in another world.” Vincent


  • The events of this movie are set between episode 22 and 23 of the series.
  • Originally entitled: “Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven’s Door” in Japan, it was changed in the US to “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” due to the original name being shared with the Bob Dylan song of the same name.
Cowboy Bebop The Movie 2001 KUNG FU KINGDOM

Cowboy Bebop – The Movie (2001) – KUNG FU KINGDOM

Film Rating: 9/10

If you haven’t already seen it, or would like to revisit a cult favorite (which you definitely should) “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” is available to order via Amazon on Blu-ray!

Have you seen “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie”? What were your favourite action and fight moments? How would you rate Shinichirō Watanabe’s stellar direction? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation / share this on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

LOOKING FOR MORE SPACE ACTION COMBAT? Then track it down in the KINGDOM of FU with these Top 10’s, Top 5’s, exclusive interviews, ignite your inner BEBOP in KFK wear, and subscribe for more INTERGALACTIC FU of the COWBOY variety on YouTube!

James Stampone

James’ passion for martial arts combat originated from his love of action cinema, inspiring him to practise the arts from a young age. He is trained in Muay Thai, Boxing, Wing Chun, Kali and Jiu-Jitsu. Through these practises he has not only reaped the benefits of learning technical skills, but also studied real-world survival techniques, with each discipline enriching his mental stamina and wellbeing. James is a movie buff and an MMA fan, engaging with the tactical skills and strategies of every fight.

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