I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Savage Dawn

tn_savagedawnSAVAGE DAWN is a post-apocalyptic-town-harassed-by-bikers movie very similar to STEEL FRONTIER except way crappier looking and without all the great cars and car stunts. I’d almost give it a very, very lenient semi-pass just because Lance Henriksen, with bleach blond hair, gets one of his rare leading man roles, except… no, I wouldn’t want anybody to think I sort of recommended this movie. The best thing I can say is I’ve seen worse.

But if you insist on seeing it the DVD is #3 on a triple feature with CAGED FURY and DRUG TRAFFIKERS. Don’t say I or the cover didn’t warn you.

The covers always have cooler helmets than the movies
The covers always have cooler helmets than the movies

Henriksen plays Stryker, a mysterious veteran badass who has been away somewhere for a while and now came back for some reason. In my opinion you can tell that he’s cool because his name is Stryker. I don’t think there’s ever been a weenie named Stryker, only heroic warriors and villains. In this case it’s the heroic warrior.

It’s after some damn apocalypse or other and it’s basically like an old west town but with motorcycles instead of horses. As luck would have it shortly after Stryker shows up a savage biker gang cleverly called “The Savages” roll into town. They’re led by Henriksen’s STONE COLD co-biker William Forsythe, who does one of his less nuanced obnoxious-asshole-fuckin-shit-up roles as an early rehearsal for OUT FOR JUSTICE. He mostly does stuff like ride around on a tank firing shots in the air and yelling things like “The Savages fuckin rule, bay-bay!” and “Let’s go fuck this town!” He’s accompanied by Karen Black, playing one of her usual crazy-lusty-bitch roles. She was a bartender in the town but she begged to be taken with the Savages, explaining her qualifications like this: “I could suck start a Harley.”

Just so you know shit is crazy there’s a sleazy priest character (Richard Lynch with Nick Nolte hair). One day he comes into the church and startles a 1980s hair metal video ho with big hair and a dog collar. A sexy guitar solo plays as they quickly begin making post-apocalyptic love on the scriptural basis that she’s a sinner and “Contact with a sacred vessel will purify you.” The situation implies that the movie is blowing the lid off of hypocrisy within organized religion, but the music implies late night Cinemax.

Although society has gone to shit there’s still a National Guard base that has a big gate with uniformed security guards, and they get tricked by two giggly seductresses working for the Savages. I think maybe that’s where they got the tank from but to be frankly honest it is possible that I was somewhat tuning out of the movie by that point.

Unfortunately most people in town are not having as good of a time as the priest or the security guards. Bikers with names like Joyboy, Meatrack and Spyder (he has a bowler hat and sunglasses, basically the role of the birdman in STEEL FRONTIER) are going around being a real pain in the neck in my opinion. I’m sorry to get so worked up and use harsh language but their behavior is just really inappropriate, in my view. For example one guy gets a shave at an old fashioned barber and then he slits the barber’s neck (I swear this happened in STEEL FRONTIER also. Not sure why post-apocalyptic barber shaves are a big thing).

At first Stryker wants to stay out of it (reluctant hero, etc.) but when he happens to be right there when some of these pricks are gonna rape an old friend he decides to intervene. One of the best parts is when he’s on a bridge and swings down to kick a guy right off his motorcycle. Not Bad For a Human claims Henriksen did all his own stunts, but I’m not sure about that because most of the best moves don’t show his face until right after an edit. Either way though he does get to punch some guys and get more physical than in alot of his movies. In one fight he picks up a rattlesnake and uses it as a weapon much like Van Damme later did in another Henriksen movie, HARD TARGET.

Although “interesting” might be too strong a word, the movie gets most interesting at the end when a couple citizens decide to fight back. Stryker’s old war buddy George Kennedy in a wheelchair has been trying to convince him to help stand up to the Savages. He does manage to recruit a retarded guy who’s mad because the Savages were mean to his doll Andy. The doll ends up becoming a suicide bomber. Meanwhile a kid fills a garbage bag with gasoline and makes a boobie trap, and Kennedy gets hold of a bazooka. Stryker runs up and down a bunch of stairs and ladders getting in various scuffles. Karen Black yells “Feel my wrath!” as Forsythe squeezes her tits and she drives her tank over a car with the priest in it. That type of shit.

I forget how it ended but I’m sure it was great. As Henriksen told Joseph Maddrey in Not Bad For a Human, “That was one of those fucking movies, man… I mean, anything with the word ‘savage’ in the title… it’s got problems.” Until we get the definitive “Macho Man” Randy Savage biopic I guess he’s probly right.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 at 11:52 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

15 Responses to “Savage Dawn”

  1. Damn another case of good premise and poor execution it seems. Surprisingly tactful review Vern. Your book review got me into checking some Lance awesomeness this weekend cause it’s been a while since I sat and watched him in action but I’ll steer clear of this one. Just got the first season of Millenium in the mail so I’ll watch that this weekend for my Lance fix.

  2. I don’t know, Savage Island was okay. The more recent one, not the one with the pirates or whatever.

  3. What about Oliver Stones next film, Savages? It has a really mixed cast. On the negative side you got Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Salma Hayek (when was the last good thing they did?), but on the other side you got Aaron Johnson, Emile Hirsch and Benicio Del Torro.

    I guess the plot can get both ways: Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.

    If guess it will not be Pineapple Express 2, and IMDB describes it as crime/drama/thriller, so I guess it will be pretty serious.

  4. I would totally buy this based on that cover. Pure awesome. The quality of the actual film would be a secondary concern.

  5. I don’t know vern, you make this sound kind of awesome.

  6. On the negative side: Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Salma Hayek? What planet are you on? I think the last three have somewhat proven themselves as actors by this point, and as far as Blake, there was this little movie called THE TOWN.

    And then the plus side is Emile Hirsch (?) and “Aaron Johnson”? Who the hell is he? They’re the positives over Uma and Travolta? What?

  7. Anyway….I remember that cover from the days of video stores. It was always on the action / adventure shelf: never got checked out, as far as I remember. I rented damn near everything in the action section, but I never rented that. It just sent out cheap and lame vibes, somehow. The title, the BMX style facemask on the helmet, the MEDIA logo…you knew it wasn’t worth it.

    Somebody really, really needs to put together a comprehensive examination of every Road Warrior rip-off, from whatever the earliest ones were (Steel Dawn? Battletruck?) up thru the early 90s, when the sub-genre seemed to finally fade away. Unless that show with Malcolm Jamal Warner and then Book Of Eli count.

  8. SirVincealotThere

    May 4th, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    re: Emile Hirsh. Not a well-known guy so I’m not sure exactly where Ghost is coming from. HOWEVER: as far as acting ability is concerned, INTO THE WILD shows Hirsh as a talent of the very highest order. My interest is piqued…

  9. Can’t argue with that review. ALL the elements for a cult classic are there… They just don’t seem to realize it….

  10. Stryker was also the name of the main guy in Airplane! the Movie.

  11. JD I wouldn’t say the MEDIA logo meant “stay the fuck away from this!!!” either. I mean that logo was displayed on my VHS copies of ELM STREET 2 (easily the most underrated in the franchise), I COME IN PEACE and HALLOW FUCKIN WEEN. All movies that I greatly enjoyed growing up. Matter of fact HALLOWEEN is one of my most cherished films ever and for the fact that they distributed THAT tape alone they get brownie points. Seriously I love HALLOWEEN so much that I’m almost liable to say “Fuck Rob Zombie” except that I liked a couple of White Zombie songs and the bastard used Forsythe (had to tie it back into SAVAGE DAWN somehow) pretty damn masterfully in THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. So I could never truly ever hate the guy.

  12. I saw Savage Dawn with my brother in the mid 80’s, and I remember we waited and waited for the Lance Henriksen we knew from The Terminator. But we never saw him (didn’t recognize him with the blonde hair).

  13. this is one of Lance’s works that i haven’t seen yet. that cast, that cover art, bikers … seems aces! thanks for sharing your review. :)

  14. Wabalicious Monkeynuts

    May 6th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Yeah, i remember seeing this one in the 80s as well; if i’m not wrong, it’s pretty nasty, a few rapes, etc. I know it got me a ban from watching 18 rated films for a while, my mum wasn’t amused by it at all.

  15. Olá,Consegui usar o meu ipad2 comprado nos EUA como você indicou, coloquei meu mini chip do iPhone 4 da vivo e alterei a configuração do apn para vivo.Agora preciso saber como faço para usar o meu iPhone 4 ou o meu iPad 2 nos EUA.Consigo comprar um mini chip pre prago com opção para dados e ligações?Abraços, Chris Bayma

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>