Sunday, December 21, 2008

STRYKER (1983)

The last great wave of international exploitation cinema in the 1980s followed the release of George Miller's Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior). A slew of post-apocalyptic knockoffs followed, most from Italy of course. This one comes from Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago, who passed away earlier this year and is probably best known for TNT Jackson, and while the story is perhaps too complicated for its own good, I thought it made effective use of its locations. From a movie like this you want good outdoor action, and Stryker delivers adequately. The title character, played by Steve Sandor, gets caught up in a chase scene and becomes involved in a little war for control of all-too-scarce water. This clip from the opening section gives you an idea of the action.

From there, Stryker and his new sidekick (eventually called Bandit) encounter a small horde of hooded dwarves that remind you of Jawas or increasingly, later in the film, of Danny Kaye's little helpers in The Court Jester. The war pits the allies of Trune, the keeper of a secret spring, against hook-handed bad guy Kardis, against whom Stryker has a major grudge. Kardis is quite a sight anyway, but when he goes to war he decks himself out in black and red, reminding me for some reason of a Republic serial villain. Beside the dwarves, we also get some Amazon types in tight shorts and football shoulder pads and the usual motley survivors. At one point, Stryker dares raise the issue of whether Trune is much better than Kardis if he intends to remain a self-appointed keeper of the spring, but this question becomes moot when the hero's eventual vengeance turns Kardis into a kind of sacrifice that brings rain and I suppose saves the world.

There's nothing pretentious or even ambitious about Stryker, but its relatively minimalist presentation charmed me. This might be the sort of post-apocalypse movie that would get made after an apocalypse. It isn't memorably bad, and I have no goofy quotes to give you, but there's something inspiring about it. It's one of those movies you can look at and leave thinking that it'd be easy to make a movie. All you need are explosions, the great outdoors, and people willing to throw themselves off trucks and all around the landscape. Here's a more detailed and more extensively illustrated review from a specialist on post-apocalypse movies.

My copy of Stryker is part of Fortune Five's infamous Grindhouse Experience Vol. 2 box set. That means it's been copied from a VHS, complete with occasional tracking troubles. Because of the outdoor locations, the movie could probably stand a widescreen edition, but flaws aside the present copy is adequate. It shares a side with Ruggero Deodato's Atlantis Interceptors, a film which, as presented, makes nearly no sense whatsoever but has some really nice stuntwork. As a bonus, here's a trailer for it under its more official title, The Raiders of Atlantis.

1 comment:

Soiled Sinema said...

This film has equally impressive cover art. I must check this out.