‘Knuckle Girl’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Did Ran Kill Nikaido?

The live-action version of the manga of the same name, director Hong-Seung Yoon’s Knuckle Girl, is the story of a promising young boxer named Ran Tachibana, who gets into trouble trying to uncover the mystery behind her sister Yuzuki’s apparent suicide. The film follows the action thriller template and plunges into a world of crime where evil men won’t ever stop and corrupt cops mean they won’t ever be caught. In such a world, good people like Ran have to take up the mantle and decide how to fight them. The film is an immersive experience that tries to bring the manga to life, not only keeping us engaged through its vivid color palette and kickass action sequences but also delving into the philosophy of violence versus crime.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Ran Tachibana didn’t know that while she was knocking out yet another opponent in the boxing ring, her sister Yuzuki was in trouble. A charred body had been discovered, and both Officer Mashato and his superior Yoshiyuki were adamant that it was Yuzuki’s. They even had the DNA test to prove it. A 99% match meant that Ran couldn’t convince the officers otherwise, even though the body’s set of teeth was a little different than Yuzuki’s. Ran and Yuzuki were orphans, and while Ran lived away from her, training to be a great boxer, she left Yuzuki with an abusive uncle who threw things at Yuzuki when he got drunk. Ran had plans to keep Yuzuki with her, but she had little money for a place of her own. When she was close to going pro, she got the news that Yuzuki had committed suicide. But Ran couldn’t believe her kid sister could ever take that step. Things took an interesting turn when Ran found a Junin (a shady corporation) card in Yuzuki’s belongings. In her attempt to uncover the truth about the suicide, Ran found out that not only was Yuzuki alive and in trouble, but that she was involved in the evil plan of the owner of an underground fight club known as ‘The Garage’.


Why Did The DNA Match?

The police had told Ran that the van in which the body was discovered was lit on fire from the inside, indicating suicide. The DNA test was conclusive in a sense, but Ran had a sense that Yuzuki was still alive. After she visited Junin, the manager there acted in a manner that implied his guilt, and after Ran persisted, she was drugged and left for dead. If she hadn’t been saved by the pure soul of Naruse, an ethical hacker, she would never have found out the truth about Yuzuki. Naruse had his own beef with Junin Group, which was run by some of the most wealthy people in Japan, but their main source of wealth was through ‘The Garage’. Naruse’s father had died fighting there; hence, he wanted to bring down the Junin group. Yuzuki was important to him, as he understood that the powerful Junin group had faked her suicide, making it apparent that they wanted to keep Yuzuki’s abduction a secret. She was definitely important to them, and Naruse wanted to find out why. He gave Ran proof that Yuzuki was alive, and it became clear that either the DNA test was a genuine mistake or the cops were lying. Oishi was indeed working for the garage’s owner, Nikaido, and it was his job to close the case, but Yoshiyuki ran the test again and realized that perhaps his senior was a corrupt officer.

Why Was Yuzuki kidnapped?

Ran grew restless, looking for Yuzuki. She only had Naruse by her side, but she had to contact her old flame, Kamiya, to let her stay at his place and look for some emotional support. Ran was growing distant from her boxing career, but she had no choice. Naruse tracked down Nikaido’s right-hand man, Azumo’s place, and the trio of Ran, Naruse, and Kamiya went head-to-head with Azumo and his gang and came out the other side with Azumo’s mobile phone, which contained sensitive information regarding the Garage’s functioning. There were bets placed on death matches, and the illegal sport was raking in money for Junin, whose members had inducted Nikaido, a former fighter, into the coveted Junin Group. But Nikaido wanted to be the boss of it all, not just the Garage. His plan was to create a security system where he could get all the Junin Group’s funds into an account whose password could never be hacked. For that, he needed a person who had the ‘Golden Blood’, a person with Rh-null blood type, and Yuzuki was it. The password for Nikaido’s main account was her blood, which is why he couldn’t release her.


Why Didn’t Ran Kill Nikaido?

Yukiyoshi, the honest cop, along with Handa, another cop in the department, began to look into the case after figuring that Oishi was probably working for Nikaido. Nikaido, on the other hand, had started the purging process. He planned to kill the Junin group’s elite member, Shiraishi. But before all that, he grew fascinated with Ran, who impressed him after having attacked Azumo and getting out alive. Ran tried negotiating with him, but he asked her to fight a death match if she wanted Yuzuki back. Naruse was in favor of this idea, as he would get time to hack into the system and find out the names of those who were betting on such barbaric matches, and then perhaps even have greater leverage using which they could get Yuzuki back and also put an end to Junin Group and the Garage.

Ran had to agree to the illegal fight, where she was allowed to wear her infamous brass knuckles. Kamiya was worried because if she was caught in the fight, she would be barred from pro-boxing forever. But the boxing career was not more important than Yuzuki’s life. She trained until she ended up fighting Nikaido’s favorite fighter, Kito. Nikaido killed Kito himself, because he failed to kill Ran easily, and she managed to put up one hell of a fight. Nikaido was aroused seeing Ran’s spirit, and on the one hand, he started his purge and killed Shiraishi; on the other hand, his desire to fight Ran in a deathmatch started to grow. One good thing that happened through this match was that Naruse found out why Yuzuki was kidnapped and managed to freeze Nikaido’s account, if not hack it. The bad thing was that Oishi had killed Yukiyoshi, and then Azumo poisoned Oishi, completely severing the cop angle. The trio was alone now, and Azumo’s men came in for the final kill. Kamiya fought them off, but he ended up in critical condition in the hospital.


During Knuckle Girl’s ending, Ran decided to meet Nikaido with the understanding that he would release Yuzuki unharmed, and she would then have his account restored. Niakido, however, wanted to fight her, and she had no other choice. She fought his men alone and ended up fighting Nikaido in a deathmatch. With some help from Yuzuki, who shot him after snatching Azumo’s gun, Ran almost came to a point where she could have bludgeoned Nikaido to death, but she didn’t. The knuckles could have easily cracked his skull, but then she wouldn’t have remained the same person. The knuckles were symbolic of a life of crime. Kamiya knew too much about it. He had taken the righteous path and didn’t want Ran to go down that path again, implying that once she had Thanks to Handa, who was in contact with Yukiyoshi, Nikaido was caught, and the Garage and Junin group’s legacy ended. Yuzuki was finally reunited with Ran, who continued her boxing career, on her way to becoming one of the greatest of all time. But this time, she wasn’t alone; she had her sister and friends by her side.

Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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