Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Patriot (1998)

Seagal may be unstoppable in combat, but there is
one thing he can't fight... macular degeneration

1998's The Patriot is the third film in what I like to call Seagal's green movement, following On Deadly Ground in 1994 and Fire Down Below in 1997. These three films combine environmentalism and various forms of Eastern and Native American mysticism into what is as close as we can reasonably expect to a Billy Jack sequel. These films are pretty interesting, since action films, when they're political at all, are usually the domain of the right-wing. Themes of pacifism and environmentalism don't gel easily with violent action, so the results are usually a hilarious and highly entertaining failure. The first two films went over like a fart in a church and by 1998 Seagal's box office draw had dropped severely, necessitating the release of this film Direct-to-Video (the first of many to come).

The first think you notice about this film is that it's got some nice cinematography, courtesy of Director Dean "Mad Max 2" Semler. Lots of sweeping, Western-style wide shots. This film was made on and around Seagal's own ranch, so I like to think it's an accurate portrayal of his everyday life. Roping cattle, healing sick animals with his own "home-cooked jungle juice" (presumably Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt energy drink), all in a day's work for Steven Seagal aka Dr Wesley McClaren. He lives on the ranch with his daughter Holly (Camilla Belle) and crusty cowhand Frank (L.Q. Jones). He also has a doctor's surgery in town where he provides medicine, both Western and homeopathic, to the citizens of Ennis, Montana. He even accepts blackberry pies and carpentry services as payment, which I will definitely be trying on the next visit to my GP.

Unfortunately, Seagal's ranch is adjacent to a crazed militia, who are embroiled in a tense stand-off with the FBI. Reluctant to see another Waco in the papers, the FBI holds back while the militia leader, Floyd Chisolm (Gailard Sartain), lectures his followers about how the country has gone down the crapper etc. The stand-off comes to an abrupt end when Chisolm suddenly surrenders. He is taken to court where he defends his right to stockpile sawn-off shotguns in his backyard and so forth. If this film were made ten years earlier he'd probably be the good guy, but this is a Seagal film, so he spits in the judge's face and is taken to prison. What nobody knows is that Chisolm has deliberately infected himself with the deadly virus NAM-37, and intends to infect as many people as possible. I know this doesn't sound very patriotic but I think the title is one of those ironic type deals, back before it was illegal to question the merit of blind patriotism.

Luckily Seagal is also best virologist in the country, retired from the CIA after he discovered the government was stockpiling the deadly virii he was researching. Seagal reluctantly calls in his old colleagues to help combat the infection, but the virus has mutated and the antidote they provide proves to be useless. There is hope, however, in the form of Seagal's daughter Holly who has an immunity to effects of the virus. Seagal is also immune but this goes unnoticed by everybody, including himself. When the militia discover that she is immune, Seagal must escape and find a cure before the virus can spread. He dumps his daughter at her Blackfoot Indian grandfather's place, which allows Seagal to trade the bits of vague mysticism that always crop up in his films ("Chasing knowledge is like chasing deer. You must allow knowledge to find you.") and pick up Dr. Ann White-Cloud, an expert botanist and thus a handy lab assistant.

Now, some may consider the country's top ex-CIA virologist living next door to the source of a massive viral outbreak to be a ludicrous coincidence, but the fact that Seagal also lives near a top secret DARPA viral research lab makes me wonder if Seagal had really retired at all. I mean, think about it, maybe it was all part of his plan, just biding his time until the inevitable viral outbreak he'd always feared. Anyway, Seagal uses the awesome powers of his 1998 desktop PC to forge a security access pass. For some reason he's got his software set up and ready to go to produce phony IDs for DARPA, the CIA, FBI etc, which lends further evidence to my theory. Once he gains access to the underground lab he discovers a skeleton crew of half a dozen soldiers, all of them infected with the virus after some training exercises topside. Fat lot of good the level-4 containment facility does now, you jackasses!

With the soldiers dropping like flies, it's time for an explosive finale... of science! Beakers, test tubes and bunsen burners are all employed in this white-knuckle action thrill-ride. It all reaches a white-hot climax when Seagal trashes his lab in frustration, only to discover the source of the immunity right in front of him... the flowers in the herbal tea they were drinking! (This is a spoiler, so don't read the previous sentence.) As Seagal says earlier in the film: "[Western medicine] is in the business of prolonging illness, I'm the business of curing it." Take that, science! It's stupid, but it does provide the spectacle of army helicopters raining flower petals on an infected populace. It would probably be more convenient for the townspeople if the flower petals were distributed in discrete packages, but not nearly as heavy handed a poetic device.

Seagal was beginning to bloat up by this stage, which they try to cover with baggy shirts, even some of the Chinese style silk numbers he is fond of these days. He mumbles his way through lackluster dialogue (sometimes I really wished that the bare-bones DVD had subtitles), but this is from the early days of Direct-to-Video so he really seemed to be making an effort. The film looks damn good for Direct-to-Video, but the reduced budget means fewer action sequences. In fact, the whole film is more of a viral thriller, along lines of Outbreak. Seagal busts a few heads and even stabs a guy in the neck with the stem of a wine glass (no gout of arterial blood, big oversight) but the thrills (such as they are) are generally derived from Seagal's race against time.

This film has probably been seen by about eight people worldwide, all of whom picked it up by accident instead of Roland Emmerich's 2000 film The Patriot starring Mel Gibson. I would definitely like to see the alternate universe version of that film with Seagal in the lead role. There would be a lot more British soldiers getting their necks broken and tossed through windows, that's for sure. What about that line that was in all the trailers "Before this war is over, I'm going to kill you." "Why wait?" Tell me that line doesn't sound like it was generated by whatever computer they use to make Seagal's scripts. Anyway, until the shot-in-Romania Direct-to-Video remake of The Patriot (2000) starring Steven Seagal as Mel Gibson, we will have to be satisfied with The Patriot (1998) starring Steven Seagal as Steven Seagal.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale (1983)

Get used to this expression,
because you're going to see it a lot.

This film was directed by prolific hack Joe D'Amato, his second entry in the curious subgenre of Italian post-apocalyptic films. By now the popularity of post-apocalyptic films was reaching it's peak in Italy and the conventions of the subgenre were well established. This is evidenced by the opening of the film that has no introductory crawl or voiceover narration, just some simple stock footage of mushroom clouds. The bombs have dropped, civilisation is in ruins, bla, bla, bla, you know the drill. The city is a hellscape of rubble and abandoned buildings (a la Escape From New York) and the countryside is a barren wasteland full of mutants and bikers and mutant bikers (a la Mad Max).

In this case the urban populace are kept docile by terrible corporate-sponsored reality television. What a shocking and frightening future this is. The most popular show is a Running Man style affair called Endgame, and Ron Shannon (Al Cliver, the man of a thousand faces, all of them identical) is the current champion. The three hunters are Aldridge, your standard post-apocalyptic punk, Mantrax, a martial arts expert, and Karnak, a longtime rival of Shannon and the tipped favourite. Karnak is played by George "Big Ape" Eastman. Come on, it's an Italian post-apocalyptic film, you know he had to appear in the cast somewhere. They don their fruity eye makeup (it was the 80s) and start their chase across the city, hidden cameras recording their every move.

Meanwhile, the city's Security Service (SS) storm troopers are in the process of hunting down and exterminating a race of telepathic mutants. Yes, they are actually called the SS, their helmets are emblazoned with the famous twin lightning bolts and everything. There is no room for subtlety in the post-apocalypse. One of these mutants, Lilith (Laura Gemser, from all those Emmanuelle films), approaches Shannon with that most popular of post-apocalyptic propositions: the escort mission. She and a bunch of mutants want to get out of town and to a rendezvous point where they will be whisked away on a unicorn to a land of chocolate and rainbows. Jesus lady, I can understand your urgency, but I think he's a bit busy at the moment. Besides, I can think of better times to discuss your secret mission than during a show that is being broadcast live on national television. Anyway, she uses her telepathic abilities to help him defeat Karnak (the sole remaining hunter by this point), but he decides to spare his life.

After Endgame is wrapped up, Shannon returns Lilith to her family (a little boy named Billy and some neurologist who wants to help the mutants create a utopia) and goes about assembling his crack team of mercenaries. They are strongman Kovack, who bearded fat guy who looks like he wandered in from a LARP session, one-eyed weapons expert Kijawa, knife expert Stark and martial arts master Ninja (Hal Yamanouchi, last seen with Cliver in 2020: Texas Gladiators). The next day they pile the mutants into a white combi-van. Someone mentions that it's an antique, saving the filmmakers the trouble of hot-glueing some silver fins and spikes to it. It does have a gun-turret, though, which certainly comes in handy. Escorting the van are a couple of motorcycles and Shannon's own stupid-looking car.

Pretty soon they run into the bodies of a few mutants. Up until now the mutants have just looked like ordinary humans, but these guys look like apes, or at least Italians in half-assed Planet of the Apes makeup, and there's even a scaly fish-man. The Professor points out that the mutations have had a regressive effect, essentially devolving them. They also come across an abandoned warehouse, where a bunch of blind monks in black robes attack them en masse. Usually a bunch of blind dudes wouldn't be threatening adversaries, but they have captured a telepathic mutant who they force to transmit images to their eyes. Shannon heroically axes their hostage in the head, and soon the monks are blind again, leaving them free to escape.

They take a break in that same quarry from every Italian post-apocalyptic film, and Lilith reveals that Billy is actually a powerful telepath and that she uses her own powers to keep a cap on his. I wonder if that will come in handy later? Next the convoy stumbles across a group of murdered travelers. Lilith bursts out of the van to shout that it's a trap, but it's too late and the professor gets stabbed by a supposedly dead woman. Kovack is angry since Shannon had hidden the fact that their human cargo were mutants, but Shannon appeases him by reminding him of all the gold they're going to get.

They are immediately attacked by a gang of mutant bikers, led by a fish-man in one of those standard post-apocalyptic cars that come factory fitted with chained-up topless women (they're nothing to get excited about but in a post-apocalyptic wasteland you take what you can get). In the ensuing battle everyone is killed save for Shannon and Kijawa. Lilith is captured by the fish-man as an addition to his harem. Karnak, who had been tailing them this whole time, manages to get in the van full of mutants and drive it to safety. That night, Karnak and Shannon reluctantly team up for a rescue attempt.

Karnak disables all their unattended bikes and they sneak into their hideout. I guess part of their mutation is that they sleep very soundly, because Shannon manages to rescue Lilith with no trouble whatsoever. They also find Kovack concreted into the wall as some sort of living trophy, so Karnak goes back and puts him out of his misery by twisting his head off. Unfortunately the dripping blood wakes up one of the mutants (now they wake up?) so Shannon and Lilith heroically leave Karnak behind to die (although to be fair Lilith did warn Shannon that he planned to kill him and steal the gold later).

So, now it's back to that damn quarry (I assume it's supposed to be a different one, though) to deliver the mutants to the tiny little helicopter that will somehow fly them all to the promised land. Unfortunately the SS troops show up, killing Kijawa and capturing Shannon. As the leader of the troops questions him, he convinces Lilith to uncork Billy's powers. Billy pulls a Carrie, crushing the SS troops under styrofoam boulders, parking a car on their heads and gunning them down by telekinetically controlling the van's gun turret. Finally, he makes the leader commit suicide with his own pistol.

The mutants get shipped off to Mutantland or wherever (Shannon declines the offer to join them, for some reason) but right before he can pick up his gold, bullets rake the ground in front of him. It's Karnak, still alive and royally pissed! In a classic final confrontation, they both pull out knives and as they charge one another for the final battle, the screen freezes and the credits roll. I hope Karnak won, he needed a break.

Although hundreds of people die, it's pretty restrained for D'Amato. There's only one rape (fish-man vs Lilith), and it isn't even played for titillation. That's about as family friendly as it gets with him. Al Cliver displays his solitary expression, Laura Gemser is as hot as she always is, and the rest of the cast display the acting abilities you'd expect from softcore porn veterans. D'Amatos first post-apocalyptic film, 2020: Texas Gladiators, shared a lot of elements with Endgame (including, but not limited to, sets, shooting locations, actors and props) but overall I think this is a better film. A few more attempts at the genre and he might have made a good film. Endgame is a bit more out there than 2020, with the fish-men and whatnot, but it's those bizarre touches that make Italian post-apocalyptic films so interesting. Joe D'Amato has gone on record to claim Endgame as his favourite film. That's quite a statement from a guy that directed nearly 200 films, but if you've seen any of his films you'd know it's not exactly high praise. Nevertheless, it's still required viewing for fans of post-apocalytpic films.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Guy N. Smith Book Review - The Resurrected

Merryn is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. With only weeks to live, she marries her fiance Bernie Oldroyd, who travels far and wide to try and find a cure. Medical science proves to be useless, so he seeks the help of Natalie Newman, a pracitioner of white magic. He is unhappy with her inability to promise hard results and is subsequently contacted by a shady man named Richie Howe, a former disciple of Natalie's who has fallen to the dark side. In desperation he agrees to hire his black magic services. After Richie gropes her naked body (not sure whether this was part of a Satanic ritual or just for fun) he promises that he can fix her. "She'll live" he intones ominously "but first she has to die."

The next day she is completely healed, baffling the medical community, but she has come back a changed woman, with nasty halitosis and B.O. that smells like death. She is a zombie, but a zombie with a twist. While most zombies have an insatiable appetite for human flesh, Merryn has an insatiable appetite for dick. I should add that she doesn't actually eat the dicks, she has sex with them (and by extension the people attached). As Doctor Markham states: "This doomed girl had not only risen from her deathbed but she had also turned into a nymphomaniac."

Unfortunately for her husband, as the promiscuous gay rooster once said, "Any cock'll do", and pretty soon she's sitting around all day masturbating and hitting on any dude who is unlucky enough to cross her path. She's also completely under the spell of Richie Howe, and is bound to do whatever he commands, such as participate in Satanic orgies, make human sacrifices to the demon they worship, turn tricks on the street etc. As well as fucking tramps in filthy back alleys, she also becomes increasingly cold and distant to her husband. Typical woman, am I right fellas? Bernie realises that although she is bound to him eternally, she doesn't love him. In desperation, he attempts to kill her by pushing her over a cliff, but he wakes up the next morning with her cold, wet body next to his. After this he gives up, which I consider a pretty poor effort. At least try a decapitation, buddy.

Eventually the demon demands more and more from Richie and his coven, until his control over his demonic powers begins to unravel. His power over Merryn loosens long enough for her and Bernie to formulate a plan to kill him. Only then can she be free of his control, but what will happen to her with Richie's power destroyed?

Unlike most of Smith's books, The Resurrected focuses on a very small group of characters. This doesn't really play to his strengths, as I don't think he's particularly good at creating fleshed-out and compelling characters. He's at his best when he's introducing and dispatching characters within a dozen pages or so. I liked the opening chapters, I really bought Bernie's desperation and I can understand why he'd be driven to seek help anywhere he could find it.

There's a tonne of sex in this book, if you're into that. It's pretty gross though, I mean, she's dead. I don't care how hot she is, I think this goes beyond some listerine and air freshener. There's not a lot of killings, but what's there is very graphic. For instance, there's a detailed description of a woman getting skinned like a rabbit.

I expected the book to end with Bernie giving a tearful goodbye to his wife and learning to accept her death, but instead it ended with an ironic punishment straight out of an old Tales From the Crypt comic. I liked that Smith didn't go for the expected option. I actually found myself creeped out, which certainly didn't happen when I read Night of the Crabs. I've certainly learned my lesson, though. If one day my wife suffers from a fatal illness I don't think I'll resurrect her with the help of a Satanic coven, or if I do, I will seek legal counsel before comitting to anything.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Out for a Kill (2003)

Another person falls victim to Direct-to-Video Seagal

After bringing us Seagal's horrific film The Foreigner in early 2003, Michael Oblowitz teamed up with Seagal again in late 2003 and, against all odds, produced something even worse. The makers of this film tried to combine the best elements from Seagal's early films Out for Justice and Hard to Kill, but they only got as far as the title. I guess it came down to this and Hard for Justice ("Steven Seagal is... Hard for Justice") so I guess they made the right choice. "Where are you headed, honey?" "Oh, you know, just going out for a kill."

In this film Seagal goes by the handle Professor Robert Burns, the world's greatest thief turned archaeologist and Yale's most distinguished academic. Not since Tara Reid in Alone in the Dark has the role of an academic been so egregiously miscast. He is busy working on a digsite on the China/Kazakhstan border when he stumbles across a bunch of gangsters using the uncovered artifacts to smuggle drugs. His hot partner is killed in a cheap bullet-time effect, and the gangsters somehow frame Seagal for the smuggling operation and murder.

Seagal gets sent to a Chinese prison and suprisingly there's an African American dude sharing his cell. I would like to think this is a revealing piece of racism on behalf of the filmmakers but I think it can be chalked up to incompetence. Seagal's cellmate starts telling his life story but the scene fades out mid-sentence, as if the director just didn't give a shit. Thirty seconds of montage later Seagal gives him a fist pound and says "friends for life." The dude even tells Seagal "don't forget about me" and then he never appears again.

Two CIA agents let him out of prison in the hopes that he'll lead them back to the Tong, and once he's back home he and his wife are harrassed by the gangsters. First a couple of evil monks attack him at his partner's funeral, then they threaten to kill his dog, him and his wife (in that order) which causes Seagal to flip out and bust some heads.

In retaliation they blow up his house and wife, but you don't find out if they follow through on the threat on his dog. We're almost 40 minutes in by this stage, so he promises to seek revenge before his wife's funeral. He then goes from Chinese laundry to Chinese barber shop to Chinese trucking company (how he finds these gangster hideouts is left as an exercise to the viewer), beating up any gangsters that are dumb enough to come within arms reach of his stunt double. Most of the fights are pretty uninspired and boring, save for a battle with a Monkey-style kung fu master, who leaps and flips in the air while Seagal stands in the middle of the room swatting him out of the air with stunning immobility.

It's also doesn't help that the bad guys are about as threatening as a wet paper bag. In scene after scene the Tong gangsters sit around a big conference table complaining that "This gwilo professor is becoming a problem". As Seagal picks them off one by one the number of gangsters around the table shrinks until it's just the one dude sitting by himself, thinking "I will take care of this cocksucker professor myself." Those expecting a boss fight might be disappointed when Seagal lazily decapitates him with a sword thrown from the first floor window.

There are also the two CIA agents following him from place to place, always arriving too late and finding a big pile of bodies. The female agent, played by Michelle Goh, occasionally provides some weird voice-over narration that was clearly added post-production. She looks good but she's a bad actor. She does have a hilarious scene when she conspicuously enters a tattoo parlour in a seedy Bulgarian back alley and the artist awkwardly asks "Hey, you want a tattoo?"

The film is riddled with clumsily inserted post-production dialogue, but the plot still doesn't make any sense. There's this whole thing about each of the gangsters having a word tattooed on their arm that is used to unlock a vault in their headquarters, or something, but it's pretty stupid and I'm not sure what the point was. The film jumps from continent to continent, with no explanation of how he got there and why,

No amount of Michael Bay style editing tricks can make this film interesting, but by God do they try. The fifth time the camera zooms along the length of the Tong's conference table you might be tempted to throw your television out of the window. Subtitles roll out on the screen every five minutes, complete with computery bleeps and blorps. Some of them I can understand, since the same dingy Bulgarian back alleys had to pass for at least three different countries, but I think the ones telling us the bad guy's hobbies was probably going a bit far.

Seagal's hair looks frizzier than ever and his wardrobe is a mixture of his usual leather trenchcoats and the weird Chinese style silk shirts he's been wearing recently. He snoozes his way through his lines and the rest of cast are even worse than usual. The main bad guy is particularly bad, straining out each word like he's choking on his own evil.

According to imdb, this film cost $20 million dollars to make. Better uses of $20 million dollars include but are not limited to: flushing it down the toilet, lining a budgie cage or starting a small fire. Only a seasoned veteran of Direct-to-Video Seagal should attempt to watch this explosion of cinematic incompetence.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Submerged (2005)

This is how Seagal rolls

From the DVD cover I imagined this film would be something along the lines of Hunt for Red October, only with a fatter hero and more broken limbs. Unfortunately only about fifteen minutes of the film takes place on a submarine, the rest is the same dreary Eastern European locales in most of Seagal's Direct-to-Video ouvre. You see, like Attack Force, this film was the victim of serious plot tampering. According to imdb, it was originally intended to be about Seagal fighting biological mutants on a submarine but somewhere along the line the producers chickened out and changed it to a more Seagalian tale of weasely South American terrorists and corrupt CIA agents.

The first time Seagal is introduced he is handcuffed and clad in prison blues. He is led along by two MPs while heavy rock guitars blast in the background, like he is baddest mofo ever to fo a mo. Hi-larious. Years ago, he and his crack team foiled an attempted terrorist bombing, and the freedom haters at the UN put them away for being too awesome, or something. In exchange a full pardon and $100K for each of his guys, he agrees to head out to Urugay to take down Dr. Adrian Lehder (Nick Brimble), an evil scientist who is using illegal mind control experiments to turn people into unwitting sleeper agents.

We are introduced to his crack team dossier style, a series of annotated freeze frames providing the extent of their characterisation (i.e. name, service history and specialty). It's interesting to see a few recognisable Brits among the cast, most notably Vinnie Jones as Henry. He plays the same kind of character he always does, but he does it well and he has some good fight scenes. P.H. Moriarty (aka "Hatchet" Harry Lonsdale) makes an appearance, but he doesn't beat anyone to death with a 15 inch black rubber cock... a real disappointment.

After infiltrating the base and rescuing some captured marines, they escape through some underground tunnels and onto a submarine. The captured marines turn out to be sleeper agents, and fifteen minutes later half of Seagal's team is dead and the submarine is sunk. Seagal and the remnants of his crew head back to Uruguay and plan a sting operation at the opera. Now, I'm not the greatest expert on Uruguay (I couldn't remember if it was a real country at first), but even I noticed the enormous Argentinian flag on display in the opera house, and the supposedly Spanish (actually Italian) labels on the submarine controls. If you're going to pull that kind of shit, at least make up a fictional country. Anyway, the operation goes tits up when a whole bunch of people turn out to be sleeper agents, even the conductor, and Seagal heads back to Lehder's lab for a bloody showdown.

Anthony Hickox, who directed a few decent horror sequels in the early 90s, uses seizure inducing camera work, strobe editing and all manner of high tech bleeps and blorps to try and give the impression that something exciting is happening, but it's never convincing. Seagal isn't on screen for long stretches and when he is around his voice is dubbed more than half the time. He only has one major fight scene (with some nameless henchman) but it's pretty lackluster.

Thankfully, there are some hilariously stupid moments. For instance, Henry stealthily kills a couple of soldiers by shooting a drum full of flammable materials. He claims that the heat sears their throats closed so they can't scream, but the enormous fiery explosion goes unmentioned. Seagal tries to blend in with a rioting crowd by holding a newspaper up in front of his face. He also takes out a tank by lethargically jogging up to it and dunking a grenade through the view port. Classic Seagal.

There's one scene that almost made the whole film watchable. After a corrupt CIA agent is double crossed by Lehder and tortured near to death, he manages to kill Lehder and escape, only to come face to face with Seagal. He mutters "Oh, shit" before Seagal wordlessly kicks him through a plate glass window and about thirty feet through the air. If the whole film was that ridiculous I would have been happy, but most of the action is pretty boring. This film is on the bottom of the heap of Steven Seagal Direct-to-Video films, which is possibly the most damning criticism there is.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Yor, the Hunter From the Future (1983)


What if I told you of a film where a curiously well-groomed caveman beats up paper mache dinosaurs with a stone axe? What about a film where heroic dudes in shiny jumpsuits have violent laser battles with robots? Now, what if I told you it was the same film. Admit buddy, you just had a YORgasm! You like Darth Vader? How about a whole army of Darth Vaders? Paper mache dinosaurs? This film has two. Antonio Margheriti (credited as Anthony M. Dawson to disguise it's origins as a Italian/Turkish co-production) tries to shove in everything that little boys like, stomping through settings and genres like a t-rex, gobbling up any element from successful genre films that can be realised on half a shoestring. The resulting 50 pound turd is Yor, the Hunter From the Future.

As the film opens, Yor is prancing through rocky Turkish terrain while his ridiculous prog-rock theme song states that it's Yor's world and he is, in fact, the man. Yor is played by Reb Brown, a brawny non-actor who looks like a So-Cal surfer that accidently stumbled onto the set. After saving the sexy Ka-Laa and less sexy Pag from the jaws of a villainous tri-stega-tops, he is invited back to their village for a celebration, where Ka-Laa seduces him with a sexy dance. As Ka-Laa asks, "Why is Yor so different from the other men?" Good question. Maybe it's his freshly waxed torso or maybe it's his ridiculous blonde wig, but it's all got something to do with the crappy medallion around his neck. After the entire village, save Ka-Laa and Pag, are wiped out by a rival tribe of hairy, blue-skinned cavemen, the trio set off a quest to discover Yor's origins.

In their travels they come across Roa. She is the subject of worship for a group of desert-dwelling cavemen, and she possesses a medallion much like Yor's. After a battle wipes out the desert tribe, she joins them on their journey. That's the thing about Yor, the ladies can't resist him. They're throwing themselves at him left and right, begging him to take them away. One guy just straight up gives his wife to Yor as a reward. With so many hoes in different area codes, tensions are bound to result, and sure enough Ka-Laa and Roa end up in a battle royale that will hopefully leave their already-revealing garnments scattered to the four winds. Ka-Laa is just being selfish, of course. As Pag states, by their law Yor is allowed to have multiple wives. There's plenty of Yor to go around ladies, no crowding. Luckily for Ka-Laa, a few minutes later their clumsy love triangle is resolved when Roa gets her skull cracked by some evil cavemen.

It should be pretty clear how Yor and hunting figure into all of this, but what about the Future? Well, here's where the film takes a sharp left into crazy town. After sailing to a mysterious island in a ridiculous straw boat, our heroes are captured by robots. You see it seems that this isn't prehistoric Earth, but in fact post-nuke Earth. Doesn't really explain the dinosaurs, but a small pocket of civilisation still remains. This futuristic facility (as played by some factory basement in Turkey) is presided over by the aptly named Overlord, who intends to create a master race of emotionless cyborgs using Yor's DNA. He commands a loyal army of robots who look more than a little like a certain character from a certain popular sci-fi franchise. I won't say who, but it rhymes with Marth Mader. It also turns out that Yor's father was leader of a rebellious faction that made overtures to overthrow the Overlord, but crashed his spaceship, leaving Yor (and Roa) to grow up alone in the wilderness. Now Yor has to lead a group of plucky rebels to victory, destroying the Overlord and flying to a distant planet so they can start civilisation again.

Apparently this film was cut down from a four-part tv series. As a result it moves very quickly, Yor and company only staying in a location long enough for the next action sequence. It's a family friendly film, so nudity is limited to skimpy outfits and copious shots of Yor's ass. Although there is a lot of violence, there is very little blood. Guido and Maurizio DeAngelis (aka Oliver Onions) provide the soundtrack, the highlight being Yor's theme, a piece of synth-heavy Euro rock that poorly echoes Queen's contribution to Flash Gordon. Every time Yor does something heroic, using the corpse of a giant bat to hang glide into a cave for instance, we are treated to a triumphant blast of "Yor's world, he's the maaaan!" in heavily-accented English.

Antonio Margheriti wasn't content to rip off a single film, he tried to rip off almost every genre film in cinema history. It's hard to choke down the bitter concoction he produced, but you've got to admire his enthusiasm. Even if the spaceships are wobbly scale models and a climactic swing across a gaping chasm is achieved primarily through the use action figures, the whole film has a very earnest quality about it. The clean cut, heroic Yor is nothing like the vicious amoral barbarians we are used to. He's like a big, dumb, shaggy dog that has bad breath and shits on the carpet, but you love him anyway. It truly is Yor's world, and he is the man.