Equalizer 2000 (Philippines 1987)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/3/18
Director: Cirio Santiago
Cast: Richard Norton, Corrine Wahl, Robert Patrick, Vic Diaz

"They took his land. They took his girl. Now, he's taking them all straight to Hell!"

After nuclear war left most of the planet uninhabitable, several communities fight for survival among the ruins. A militant group called The Ownership hoards precious oil and supplies, and crushes anyone who poses a potential threat. After being betrayed by The Ownership and left for dead, a soldier named Slade (Richard Norton) puts on a permanent scowl and swears vengeance. He crosses paths with a beautiful young woman named Karen (Corrine Wahl) and they take turns rescuing each other from various desert encounters. She also introduces him to a super gun that she's building, which serves as inspiration for the film's title. It's a ridiculous looking piece of hardware that consists of multiple gun barrels and rocket launchers strapped together. When The Ownership gets news of this new weapon, they devote themselves to getting their hands on it, which gives Slade a perfect opportunity to settle his score.

It's a terrible film, and I only gave it two stars because it features about a half dozen classic Ford Mustangs dressed up in various "Road Warrior" (1981) inspired accessories. They're a lot of fun to see in action, tearing across the desert wastelands. Australian martial artist Richard Norton delivers a pained and somber performance, and is fully committed to his role. Compared to the rest of the film, his level of seriousness actually verges on absurdity. He doesn't get to show off his fighting skills much, but he does perform a couple of crazy stunts, including standing on the hood of a moving car while shooting at bad guys. It's a physically impressive stunt, even though it serves no purpose and is extremely silly. He also spends the majority of the film without a shirt, which allows him to show off his enviable physique. Corrine Wahl also has an enviable physique, but she manages to keep her top on. She gives an adequate performance as a gun-toting, Mustang driving, hell-raising, warrior woman, but she has very little to do other than provide support for Slade. A VERY young Robert Patrick also shows up as a redneck bandit, and is pretty entertaining. An interesting piece of trivia is that his future wife, Barbara Hooper, starred in Cirio Santiago's "The Sisterhood" (1988) the following year. I wonder if he introduced them and kindled their romance?

Just like all of Cirio Santiago's post-apocalyptic desert adventures, this one was shot in the same rock quarry location and features all of the same beat up vehicles (with some slight modifications), although there's definitely a higher concentration of Mustangs this time around. While they're lovely to look at, it made me sad to see so many of them destroyed. The action isn't very good, and the worst shot is probably when Slade's car jumps over an unconvincing matte painting. The Ownership's fortress is also an embarrassing looking matte painting, which attempts to dress up the rock quarry a bit. The film suffers from numerous glaring continuity errors, with the most obvious being a scene where Karen is chased by bandits and the ammo box that she's carrying disappears several times. Another notable scene is when someone wearing a t-shirt gets lit on fire with a flame-thrower, and in the next shot he's wearing a leather jacket and other protective clothing while he's burning. Not surprising, but definitely noticeable. It's also not surprising that car chase continuity is a common problem.

The bare bones story is serviceable, but the execution is sorely lacking. The film is basically a never-ending gun fight, and the constant barrage of machine gun fire becomes dull and repetitive extremely quickly. I actually looked forward to the fleeting moments of peace and quiet that were sprinkled throughout the film, just because it offered something different. I found the scenes of Slade and Karen on the run to be oddly sweet and romantic, as they always looked out for each other and occasionally exchanged forbidden longing glances. And for all of the bullets flying around, very few actually hit anyone, which makes the film feel like an extended episode of "The A-Team." Maybe the MPAA has restrictions on the number of people who can be shot in a movie.