Steel Dawn (1987)

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Steel Dawn (1987)

Post  BoG on Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:11 pm

Steel Dawn was one of many eighties sf films jumping on The Road Warrior bandwagon - the loner samurai-type hero (Swayze in this case) who helps out a post-holocaust community. Many of these films were low budget foreign efforts, but this was from the U.S. and is a little better than the norm. It's essentially a typical western about land & water disputes, the obvious difference being that it's in the future and characters therefore wear futuristic clothes suitable for a desolate dystopia.
Swayze plays a former soldier of a post-holocaust government that has since also fallen away, though there is mention of an existing council. John Fujioka plays a mentor of Swayze's, another warrior, sent to look into some conflict over land at a place called Meridien. Since we know that Swayze is the star and not Fujioka, we may guess how things will go. Anthony Zerbe plays the ruthless big landowner while Swayze's real-life wife, Lisa Niemi, plays the local tough lady whose land Zerbe covets. She's widowed and has a young son (some scenes copy Shane-1953). Brion James is her foreman, while Christopher Neame is Zerbe's top henchman (setting up the inevitable duel between him and Swayze).
This shows off Swayze's martial arts skills, similar to his role in the more contemporary Road House (1989). It has goofy after-the-bomb sci-fi concepts like subhuman dwellers who live underneath the sands. There is very little sense of community -- it's very much a new frontier with no actual townships, just people spread out on their own patches of land. The key issue of the story, however, is the woman's plans to to convert the whole area into an actual town - water is the key. This now sounds similar to the plot of Once Upon a Time in the West (1969). BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

Steel Trivia: Arnold Vosloo, future Mummy villian in the big Mummy movies, has a small role as one of the nasty henchmen.
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