Yeah we are still at post-apocalypse. At least for some more time. Why, you might ask. Well, we decided to explore all of sub-genres of such movies. Not that there are many of those. Not more than one, to be precise. By sub-genre we are referring to a reason for butchering whatever has left of humanity and civilized world (the word “civilized” should be taken with as much reserve as it is possible in human nature). Basic plot is always the same. Ok, now when we got things cleared let’s take a look at this.

 STEEL_DAWN_1987.mp4_000110480Sticking head into a sand

Patrick Swayze excels as Nomad, martial arts specialist, adept swordsman, ex-soldier and God knows what else, who spends his time roaming through the Wasteland (an ordinary desert, just like you would see in any other low budget Mad Max 2 rip off) created after futuristic nuclear war. Also, standing on his head and meditating deeply in sand (and shooting it occasionally) is his favorite way for wasting time in Wasteland. During one of those sessions he meets his old army/secret service/FBI/CIA/mason mentor and spiritual guide Cord (played by John Fujioka). In the middle of a desert. Just like that! Boy, what are the chances for such thing to happen? And what’s the better way of celebrating “long time no see” than having a drink in nuclear shelter while surrounded with thousands and thousands miles of sand? So Cord, who really looks like Mako from “Conan the Barbarian”, invites over Nomad to chill out a bit at his place. And not only because of that. Cord wants Nomad to protect a small group of post-apocalyptic settlers terrorized by wandering post-apocalyptic gang. And why would anyone give a shit about small group of post-apocalyptic settlers? Because that particular group of post-apocalyptic settlers controls a huge amount of ost-apocalyptic water. Ok, now I will stop naming post-apocalyptic things. Anyway, where was I? Oh! You see, after the nuclear holocaust humanity has been reduced to agriculture only. And you can’t have agriculture without the water. Plain and simple. Nomad doesn’t look very interested in role of peacemaker at first. That is going to change couple of moments later when he gets poisoned with his drink. But it isn’t the Cord who has poisoned him nor he got alcohol poisoning (well, at least not in traditional manner). As soon as Swayze bites the dust several members of post-apocalyptic gang storms in. Cord engages in sword fight with their leader who looks like Carlos Blanca from Street Fighter before going green from food poisoning. We see some decent choreographed fight in which Cord has shown us why he is the sword master. That didn’t help him much, tho, since Blanca has a secret weapon – a spike coming out from his knee. You can guess where that spike is going to end up. So, Cord ends up dead, gang leaves with exact location of settlement, Nomad burns the corpse of his guru and decides to accept the offer. Just to mention that a single word hasn’t been spoken since the moment when Nomad hits the ground.

No kicking in family jewels thats what girls doNo kicking in family jewels! That’s what girls do!

Nomad makes his way across the desert to the settlement. There he meets their leader Kasha (played by Lisa Niemi), her son Jux (played by Brett Hool) and her right hand Tark (played by Brion James), who looks like a version of post-apocalyptic Hulk Hoggan. He didn’t like Swayze from a first minute which is going to change later after Nomad helps him in 1vs4 fight. After a short conversation with Kasha Nomad accepts to work on water purification and agriculture in exchange for food and shelter. Kasha receives a letter from the Council of Order delivered by Cali (played by Joe Ribeiro), who I believe should represent some sort of new wave of post-apocalyptic gays (looks like just an ordinary fagot to me). That letter states that a Peacemaker (whatever that could be) has been appointed to Kasha’s settlement. Seems it is a good news as it turns out that settlement is now under the protection of Council (whoever they may be). Of course, what kind of post-apocalypse it would be if everything was going well all the time? By default there must be some selfish villain who wants to claim everything for himself, don’t you agree? In this movie his name is Damnil (played by none other than Anthony Zerbe himself), a local gang leader who pillages water and hard work of peasants, as he likes to put it, in order to survive and satisfy his megalomania. But more of him later. For now, everything is going as it should be and Nomad uses those moments of harmony to plant agricultural seeds and teach Jux ways of meditation while standing on head.

Since Nomad helped defending a farm Kasha reveals him a secret. There is a huge spring of pure, clear water under the settlement. She plans to build aqueducts that will supply attached farms with water. Soon it would be a huge city since hordes of people from all sides of Valley would like to join. Works on building aqueducts have been already put to motion. In the meantime Nomad gets approached by Damnil with an offer to work for him and steal the water from Kasha. He has given a time to think about his answer. As a reply, Nomad sneaks into Damnil’s settlement and steals one of his water pumps. Partly because he is no traitor and partly because he has already managed to water Kasha with his own can. I guess she doesn’t believe in playing hard to get.

swayzedPatrick Swayze has swayzed this girl

Nomad’s latest action brought him quite popularity rise. That doesn’t suits Tark at all. He feels he is not needed anymore so he decides to leave the settlement. Nomad goes in search for him and finds him drunken of his boots in some post-apocalyptic bar. There Tark opens his heart in a style of 15 years old girl who has just been used and dumped by her boyfriend, after which he tries to engage in post-apocalyptic bar fight with Nomad. That fight is shameful for both actors and viewers. It is pretty painful to watch so here it is for your own displeasure:

Stealing a water pump from Damnil was pretty dumb idea. He sent his best henchman to deal with Nomad. I guess you already know who that man may be. That’s right, Blanca. Blanca’s actual name is Sho (played by Cristopher Neame). He is also an ex-soldier, now working as Damnil’s assassin. He engages in spade fight with Nomad and would kill him for sure if Tark didn’t decide to come back and help. Stupid decision it seems, since Sho killed him with one move. That’s what you get when you try to help a guy who ruined your position. At least Sho got fed up with that murder and decided to spare Nomad’s life. For now.

As I have already wrote on the beginning the basic plot is plain, simple and same as in other Mad Max 2 rip-offs. All elements needed for cliche are there: A lone hero, damsel in distress, an evil villain who would do anything to achieve hisgoal, helpless kid, romance, villain’s best henchman who is the only competent mercenary… As expected, Damnil kidnaps Jux and Kasha goes to rescue him. Of course, she is offering info about endless spring of water in exchange for her son’s life. After a short thinking over Danmil decides that he would rather stick with child slaughter. On our big disappointment this didn’t happen and Kasha somehow manages to save her son. On the other side, Nomad fights alone against gang members who are driving tin cans (even worse ones than in The New Barbarians), dressed as ninjas and armed with nunchakus for some reason. After killing them one by one he faces Sho and kills him as well after in sword fight. Not even a knee-spike could have helped Sho. In the final confrontation with Damnil, who was holding a knife under Kasha’s neck, Nomad kills him by throwing a knife from a large distance precisely into Damnil’s throat. The ending is a bit different with Nomad walking away to continue his loner life instead of staying with Kasha. I guess he didn’t want a chick with a child. Smart choice.

My throat is soreMy throat is sore.

Conclusion: In the sea of “Road Warrior” rip-offs “Steel Dawn” stands among better ones if we exclude terrible camera which was shaking during the entire movie. It looks like this wasn’t filmed by a regular cameraman but by a drunken one-eyed chimp with camera in his teeth. This might be better than some other nuclear holocaust B production movies but it is also more dull and boring. Patrick Swayze is so young here and I guess he wasn’t in position to choose his roles at that time. While other motion pictures of this genre tried to combine western and post-apocalypse, director Lance Hool has tried to combine samurai genre with post-apocalypse. And he failed miserably. My opinion: You can watch this movie if you wish, it doesn’t hurt your brain so much, but do not expect any amount of fun, thrill and excitement. Such expectations would have as much point as meditating while standing on your head deeply in radioactive sand.

  1. […] 02. Steel Dawn (1987) […]


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