Friday, May 21, 2010
Do you remember the Dr. Steel action figure that came out in the 70s. He was bald with a dragon tattooed on his chest. He also had a steel hand. For me, he was the most badass action figure you could have. In my toy box he ruled. He could take on any number of 'G.I. Joes' or 'Big Jim's' set against him and win every time. I thought of him while watching the Yul Brynner movie, 'The Ultimate Warrior'.
The time is 2012 and we are told that there was some kind of event that destroyed the world that existed at that time. What followed were plagues and epidemics but no medicine or gasoline. Those that survived did so by gathering in small groups. If you were fortunate you joined a community that could support themselves. If not, you became a scavenger or worse. When there was no food to be found, cannibalism was a ready substitute for starvation.
The first time we see Yul (whose named Carson) he is standing on a piece of wall in a decrepit neighborhood of an apocalypse ravaged New York City. We are told he has been standing there for days. Like Dr. Steel, he is shirtless, bald with an air of danger about him.
Max Von Sydow is the leader of a commune that exists in this ravaged wasteland. It's a sanctuary for a small group of people who gathered there after some great disaster. They have water and grow their own food. This is a rarity in this world so their commune is desired by those who would wish to steal this bounty for themselves. This is no world for the weak.
Sydow (who is called the Baron) makes Yul an offer to have them join them. After he saves the lives of the Baron and his party, they can see that having such a man around would be advantageous. His only weapon is a small knife but he wields it with deadly skill.
A rival compound lead by a man named Carrot is constantly on the watch for some break that will allow him to take everything the Baron has - women, water, and especially food. The Baron hears about an island of other survivors from Yul and thinks maybe he can move his pregnant daughter there. He wants Yul to take her. He gives Yul a cache of seeds that he can use to bargain with when he reaches his destination.
Aside from loving to see Yul in anything, he is the perfect person to play the part of Carson. He is tough but smart. He is a lone wolf with experience and a will to survive that this community desperately needs. He knows his worth as a fighter and a leader. He is a natural and this role was tailor made for him. He works the action sequences with grace and style.
As with all movies of this type, the story comes down to a confrontation between the good community and the bad community. I see echoes of 'The Road Warrior' in this and you know that this film must have made an impression on George Miller who wrote and directed 'The Road Warrior'. Both movies follow a similar theme.
This was one of the few Yul movies that I had never seen and I wasn't disappointed. The story moves at a steady pace and I was always interested in the plight of these poor survivors. At times I was even afraid for them. Their desperation was palpable.
Posted by Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness at 9:39 PM