Battletruck (1982)

“Warlords of the 21st Century”, a.k.a. “Battletruck”, is fun stuff, if overly reminiscent of the more famous “Mad Max” series (although, truth be told, this was actually filmed *before* “The Road Warrior”). It’s competently directed (by Harley Cokeliss), nicely shot (by Oscar winning Chris Menges), and has enough action and futuristic stylings to make it enjoyable viewing. The characters are never fleshed out all that much, but at least in this simplistic script (co- written by Cokeliss), you’re never in doubt as to who the good guys and the bad guys are. The acting is solid from most everybody involved. And there are a substantial amount of truly impressive explosions and one hell of an awesome vehicle – the “Battletruck” of the alternate title – to capture ones’ attention.

Michael Beck of “The Warriors” stars in this post-apocalypse tale in which oil is a rare and valuable commodity. He comes to the aid of the forlorn Corlie (Annie McEnroe, “The Hand”), who’s run away from domineering villain Straker (an effectively one-note James Wainwright). He brings Corlie to a peaceful community known as Clearwater. Unfortunately for the citizens of Clearwater, Straker fully intends to get Corlie back, and so he proceeds to terrorize these people.

The supporting cast features a likable John Ratzenberger (Cliff from ‘Cheers’) as Clearwater resident Rusty and a very amusing pair of performances from New Zealand native Bruno Lawrence (“Smash Palace”, “The Quiet Earth”) and Welshman John Bach (the “Lord of the Rings” franchise) as Willie and Bone, Strakers’ primary two henchmen. Randy Powell is good as Judd, the kind of guy you “love to hate”. Beck is an under-stated hero; McEnroe isn’t bad but her character is kind of whiny.

Kevin Peek does the rousing music in this engaging escapist fare, which builds to a pretty good action finale on board the Battletruck. This was filmed in New Zealand and there’s lots of amazing scenery along the way.

Most fans of the post-nuke genre will likely have a good time with this.