“Spare some water....I’ll pay” - Nomad
If you are anything like me, you already have Mad Max: Fury Road pre-ordered on Blu-ray. Mad Max: Fury Road is rightfully called the greatest action movie of the last decade, and maybe the best Mad Max movie of all time. A very bold claim.
However, no matter how great Fury Road is, and it is sweat-inducingly great, I will always be more partial to Road Warrior. I don’t no why. Maybe it is just because of Humungus’ speech, or crazy handsome and cool, young Mel Gibson. But really, the reason I love Road Warrior so much, is because it was the first time I was introduced to that particular post-apocalyptic aesthetic. The mixing and mashing of metal, car parts fused with leather and cloth, uniforms made of dirt, chains, and latex. A world that was so dry and desolate but still overgrowing with vibrant character and twisted life.
After Road Warrior came out, there were a ton of movies that tried to capture this same post-apocalyptic desert aesthetic and plot. One of which was Steel Dawn, a late 80s Road Warrior ripoff, staring a prime Patrick Swayze (RIP), that some fans sarcastically refer to as the Desert Warrior.
In Steel Dawn, the guns are replaced by swords, the cars by wind racers, and the oil by water. Also replaced, the exhilarating action scenes, ingenuous set design, and feral kid of Road Warrior. Leaving an ugly, lifeless, and boring film.
This is the opening scene in Road Warrior:
This is the opening scene in Steel Dawn:
This fight scene is actually one of the highlights of the movie. The rest of the movie only gets worse from here.
Best Scenes Cheat Sheet
To save you some time here are the best scenes in Steel Dawn.
1. Swayze’s Master is Killed
In this scene, Nomad’s (Swayze) mentor Cord (John Fujioka) is killed by the evil assassin Sho (Christopher Neame) from a knee knife to the gut.
2. Swayze Washes His Feet
Nomad washes his feet vigorously while being interrogated by some chumps. Gotta keep them toes clean in the post-apocalypse.
3. Swayze’s Get Revenge
Nomad finally gets revenge by killing Sho and the dictator Damnil (Anthony Zerbe).
While watching Steel Dawn, you can’t help but think, how much more fun it would be to watch Road Warrior. The script is not very good and the action is just not thrilling enough to keep your attention for its 100 minute running time. Still, nothing can be taking away from Patrick Swayze performance who, if he had chosen to, could have been on the Mount Rushmore of 80s action stars. A man who had all the action pedigree but was just to handsome and talented to stay an action star.
In a sentence
Steel Dawn is a bad Mad Max: Road Warrior ripoff that replaces the tense, desperate plot and manic set pieces of Mad Max with cheesy action and a lackluster story, resulting in an okay 80s action film with a pure uncut action Swayze performance.
Rotten tomatoes: Not Enough Reviews
My Rating: 2.5 Knives To The Throat Out Of 5
“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot
This has been day 14 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.