Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mad Warrior (1984)

1984 – Mad Warrior (JPM Productions)

[Philippines release date 4th January 1984, also known as "Mad Warriors" and released on UK VHS as “Clash Of The Warlords” – onscreen title “Clash Of Warlords”]

Director Willie Milan Title Design Ed Rohr Soundman Fred Manoza Assistant Camera Boy Anao Clapper Danny Caburnay Boomman Max Stabillo Electrician Nardo Taytayon Crew Mario Caburnay, Bobby Ramon Estabillo Wardrobe Waldo Masconi Liason Officer Manolo Maglaya Fight Instructors Jay Grama, Linda Castro Assistant Editors Bonifacio Brien, Ever Ramos, Nelen Rampar Stills Willy Anao Makeup Mely Sioson Schedule Master Lito “Extra” Manuel Effectsman Edilberto Naelgas Setman Emeng Eslaban Utilitymen Johnny & Totto Prosthetic Makeup Cecile Baun

Cast Anthony Alonzo, Jennifer Kirkham, Johnny Monteiro, Willie Williams, Gabby Farro (Maria), Robert “Marios”/Marius (Malsam), Tom Romano, Rey De Gusman, Ching Zabala, Waldo Masconi, Ading Montalban, Fred Esplana, Jay Grama, Mel Arca, Alex Bolado, Linda Castro, "W Stuntmen", Paul Vance, Edward Bronett, Andy Peterson, Robert Benson, Tony Rocha, David Light, Hardy Oppoua, Rommel Valdez, Max Laurel, Sonny Erang, Rusty Santos, Boy Ibanez, Teresa Hunt, Joan Durst, Avi Seetaky, Robert Miller, Jimmy Santos, Romy Nario

Fred Adelman’s review from the Critical Condition website:

CLASH OF THE WARLORDS (1985) - In this sequel to director Willie Milan's W (aka: W IS WAR - 1983), warrior Rex (Willy Williams) is forced to fight his best friend gladiator style in an arena by evil warlord Malsam (Robert Marios), who is holding Rex's young son prisoner and will only free him if Rex kills his friend. When Rex kills his friend and Malsam renegs on his deal, he and his son escape with the help of a friendly female. Malsam orders his men to recapture Rex and his son (He says, "Find them and don't come back until you find them!" What!?!), but the trigger-happy henchmen kill Rex's son and the helpful female when warrior Maria (Gabby Parro) comes out of nowhere to help Rex fight the bad guys. As Rex and Maria walk through the post-nuked terrain, they are captured by a group of people and led to the town of Opulus, where Maria is reunited with her long-lost father Zeus, a scientist who is working on a cure for radiation poisoning. We also find out that Malsam is afflicted with a strange disease where he begins to mutate every time he looks at the moon (When he sees the moon one night, he tells his men, "Take it away and I'll cover it in blood!" Double what!?! Some of his men turn to each other and say, "He has a devil inside him!" and "He's not just crazy. He's a lunatic!"). Malsam will not rest until Rex is dead, so he hires a band of beefy warriors to capture Rex and bring him back, which they do (without very much trouble at all). Rex must fight a series of battles in the arena, each one more dangerous than the last. Just when things begin looking grim for Rex, Maria shows up with a "Liquidation Squad", an army of rocket launcher and machine gun-carrying men who help Rex defeat Malsam's men. The rest of the film is just a series of gunfights and explosions until Rex confronts Malsam for a lightsaber duel (!), where Rex quickly defeats Malsam (he explodes into a million little pieces when Rex cuts him in half with the lightsaber!) and Maria and Rex share a passionate kiss before Rex jumps on his horse and heads off on another adventure, which audiences never got to see (because it was never filmed). Maybe he died of radiation poisoning.

This is strictly lower-tier Filipino action cinema that's pretty rough going for the viewer. I guess it would help to view the first film (which I didn't at the time of this review), but I really doubt if it would make a big difference. The Greek subtitled version I viewed edits out most of the gory footage and the English dubbing is so bad, it's almost surreal. Most of the impalements, axe fights (which seems to be the weapon of choice here) and gun battles end abruptly and those edits get quite annoying after a short period of time. We don't watch these films for the storylines, you know, so editing out all the gore kind of defeats the whole purpose of watching it in the first place. I'm sure director Willie Milan (ULTIMAX FORCE - 1986) didn't mean for this film to be as awful as this edition makes it out to be, but the atrocious dubbing (the word "arena" is pronounced "areener" and the dubbing crew can't seem to make up their minds if Gabby Parro's character name is "Maria" or "Reya") and lack of bloody violence in this version makes it a tough sitting for the viewing audience, even if it's only 73 minutes long. The only interesting (and weird) points this film has to offer are Malsam's aversion to the moon (which is quickly dropped) and counting how many times you spot people standing around in a circle (which is a lot!). Also starring Tom Romano, Rey De Gusman, Teresa Hunt, Joan Durst, Ching Zabala, Waldo Masconi and the "W Stuntmen". Also known as MAD WARRIOR. A Video Memory Release. Not Rated.

Michael Petch's review from the Post-Apocalypse website:

After seeing the DVD cover on eBay, I had to buy a copy. 23rd Century, well-known purveyors of the most basic region 0 DVD's, have released a poor-quality extras free DVD that you can pick up on eBay for a few pounds if you're lucky. I was....

At times like this I realise how reliant on the internet I am for information. Trying to research this movie I have fallen flat on my face. It was tough to find information on Death Run (external review), but this is in another league. Apart from one or two message board requests here and there, nobody seems to know where this is from or when it was made. I looked and looked and finally found a tiny bit of information from the British Film Institute website. Additionally I have been sent scans that confirm the film has also been titled Mad Warrior (scans at the bottom of the page).

Lets firstly clear up, or at least try to clear up, some of the big questions:

Where? The very end credits thank the Hoyop Hoyopan Cave, which is in the Philippines. This makes lots of sense as loads of PA's hail from that country. Camp John Hay is also thanked. This was an American Air Force 'rest and recreation' base until the Americans handed it back to the Philippeans in 1991. It's now a holiday resort.

Who? Well that’s a tough question. All the names sound very English and none show up when searched on IMDB or Google. All pseudonyms, I'm sure. Finally I found a picture from my collection of saved PA scans that I have built up over the past couple of months. I found a selection of foreign PA boxes a while back on a random message board, and one, Mad Warrior, has the same art work as Clash of the Warlords. It appears they are the same film. Searching for Mad Warrior threw up a link at the BFI with some genuine names. The director and actors have all done other film work, though nothing much worth mentioning apart from Robert Marius. I don't know who he plays here but he's also in Warriors of the Apocalypse (1985).

When? The credits and the box are no help but again the BFI comes to the rescue. 1985, it claims.

Why? You’re on the wrong website if you're asking this question (although some may say films are produced to make money).

And that's the total sum of everything I know about the making of this film, but I did watch it, and I have lots to tell...

The beginning of the film gives a good forewarning of the quality of things to come, the music started and I was immediately impressed. A lively synth and electric guitar combo. Unfortunately what we see isn't so impressive. A black explosion cloud is seen moving up for a second and then it freezes. After a few seconds, the Clash of the Warlords title card flashes up for a couple of seconds over the explosion. Then we're treated to three minutes of the freeze frame explosion and nothing more. Honestly, it’s a freeze frame picture and music for three minutes! Obviously there were originally some credits here that were too foreign for us to handle. If it wasn't for the music, I would have been annoyed. I actually found it rather amusing, unlike the beginning of Exterminators of the Year 3000 where the opening titles were intact but missing the music.

The music is pretty good throughout, but I fear it has been stolen from somewhere else because throughout the film it cuts out during scene changes and sometimes randomly. It's really obvious and spoils the mood constantly.

We open to a gladiatorial arena setting. Don't expect a grand arena though, this is just a circle surrounded by logs. People are standing around watching a fight in the arena. The combatants have short axe type weapons and everybody is dressed in black. I will find it easier to call this group the Warlords. The Warlords are commanded by a fruit cake called Malsam who wears a metal mask over half of his face to cover up radiation scars.

Mustachioed Rex wins the fight. The crowd all chant "Kill him!" and Malsam gives the thumbs-down sign. Rex hesitates but eventually kills the loser. "I'm not at all satisfied,” claims Malsam, "what I want you to do is kill your best friend." If you think Malsam's insane now, just wait till later! Rex's best friend is brought into the arena. His young son is watching him and he knows that he must fight to save his son and get his freedom. Rex easily kills his friend. Everyone laughs at him but blond beauty Reya consoles him, "Bravo, your great". Nice.

It turns out that Malsam lied and Rex is not freed. That night Rex is sitting in his tent with his young kid, who is asleep. Malsam’s woman Tanya goes to see Rex. She like Rex and promises to help him escape “If…” and then she starts to unfasten her top. After what seems an age of unfastening she finally takes her top off, and at that very second the camera cuts to behind her, so you don't see anything even though your sure you were about to. If that poor kid wakes up he's going to develop some psychological problems from this.

We cut to the next day and see Rex, Tanya and the kid running through your mandatory mine setting. Keep an eye on Tanya as she has a hilarious run. I wonder why Rex needed Tanya’s help to get away? Malsam is obviously pissed – his best fighter and best woman have escaped. “Find them, and don’t come back until you’ve found them! They can’t hide forever, this island's too small”. Island? Hmm.

So off heads a group of Warlords on horseback, fronted by the crappest post-apocalyptic vehicle ever. It’s a tricycle with armor. After a minute or two of chase footage, the Warlords catch up to Rex and Co. In a horribly staged scene, the child and Tanya don't turn to face the attackers. This is to allow a planned special effect to work. They are both shot in the back with some kind of poisoned dart or something. Rex is about to be captured when Reya arrives up on the hillside. She has a machine gun and shoots, scaring off the Warlords. Rex is obviously pretty distraught and walks off with his dead son in his arms, Reya fallowing. Nobody seems to care about poor Tanya who is just left where she died. It turns out Reya misses her father, who disappeared somewhere. Yeah, he just disapeared. That's all the explanation I got, so that's all you're getting.

Meanwhile, in a tent laboratory filled with bubbling chemicals, the lead scientist has found a cure for wounds caused by atomic radiation. Is that even slightly possible? At first I thought this lab was at the Warlords' base, but soon enough we realise that it actually belongs to the other big group on the island.

Rex and Reya end up walking through a forest and are soon captured by this other group. They don’t have a name, but I was calling them "the browns" because they all wear brown, as appose to the Warlords in black. It turns out that the top scientist guy is Reya’s long-lost father so they are welcomed into the group. It turns out Reya has a damaged arm. Dad can soon fix that. “It’s just a minor infection caused by radiation”.

Time now for a blurry slow motion flashback. Rex’s wife is dead in a shallow stream. His kid is there and they are surrounded by Warlords. No wonder he hates them.

The browns' camp is a pretty place in the woods. Theses are obviously the good guys. Just like at the Warlords base there are always people moving around. The director has overcompensated for his lack of cast by getting people to march around at all times. In the Warlords' camp there are ALWAYS groups of people running around in the background, and most likely changing direction as soon as they are off-screen and running back, pretending to be other people. This technique is severely overused. We can tell are only 40 or so actors. Why would there be so much hustle and bustle? Still, it's fun to see people running around for no reason and with no actual military precision or timing.

Anyway, they all seem to be preparing for war. The Browns are play-fighting and the Warlords are sharpening axes and training on throwing deadly Frisbees. We even see that the Warlords actually have two armored bikes, although we only ever see one moving. The Browns then move up a step and start training with rocket launchers.

Around this point the tape screws up for a second or two. That’s right; I’m watching a DVD version, but the original tape the DVD was made from screws up. Poor quality control! Talking of quality, some of the footage looks OK, and other parts look poor. It’s like it was filmed on two totally different cameras (which is probably not far from the truth). Just when you think the training montage is over, there's one final treat. The Professor shows up and takes out his lightsaber. That’s right, his lightsaber. It seems this guy really is a genius. He switches it on and has a swing. Oddly, it hits something invisible and there's a little explosion but the scene cuts away milliseconds after the hit. Bizarre and crap looking, but enjoyably unexpected.

Now remember earlier when I said that Malsam would get madder? Well it appears he doesn’t like the moon (unlike the woman in Empire of Ash who loved it). He comes out of his tent and shouts for his right hand man, “Azim, the moon is getting full!” He rants, “Take it away from me, get it away!” and he continues to moan, “Not possible Malsam” claims Azim. Malsam goes one step further, “I’ll cover it in blood, I need fresh blood!”.

Malsam continues to rant crazily. Not far away, his men are talking about how crazy he is. They all think he's a lunatic, so why do they all follow his orders? It’s just as weird as the Hog in Deadly Reactor. Soon enough the film goes from weird to weirder. Malsam is chained up, without his mask (revealing radiation scarring and a fake eye make-up) and is surrounded by a circle of his men with flares. He howls and moans. “He’s not just crazy, he’s a lunatic!” claims one of his men. Absolute madness.

The next day we have a lot more training. The Browns sure love to fight with each other. Rex tells Reya that that she's too young for him (he has a mustache for goodness sake) and that he has a mission. Strangely the Warlords capture a few Browns and Malsam and his men sneak up on the Browns base. Malsam has a look at the Browns who are all too busy training to notice anybody sneaking up. For some reason, Malsam decides to go back to his base. He wants to kill Rex in the arena. Later that night Malsam has some sicko sex with some random woman outdoors while all his men are lined up in front facing away.

The next day Rex decides to leave the camp and kisses Reya before he goes. Over at the Warlords' camp, we find out that they need to fight because all their land is ruined from the radiation and they can’t grow food. Can’t they all just make friends? In a superb little scene, Malsam and Azim are walking between two ranks of men with spears. The troops move their spears out of the way as Malsam and Azim walk towards the camera.

Unfortunately the troops don’t seem to have practiced the technique very much and there are spears removed early and some not removed at all. One guy simply forgets altogether and another decides to wiggle his back and forwards a couple of times. Classic. Malsam is still angry that Rex escaped. Some guy turns up at their base with a selection of tough gladiators for hire. Malsam wants them for his arena for when he manages to capture Rex.

It turns out that Rex went into hiding in the mountains. A group of Warlords turn up, they have a bit of a chase and Rex is captured. Back at the Browns' camp, the commander is debating whether to attack the Warlords or not. “Thousands of our warriors could lose their lives.” he claims. What? Thousands? Ridiculous. He also mentions something about a “liquidation squad”. I don’t know what that was about but it sounded good. Reya continues to persuade the commander that it's is the right thing to do.

Rex, and another guy who was also captured, are taken to the arena and meet face-to-face with Malsam. “You're crazy, Malsam!” claims Rex. “You mean you never knew? Ha ha ha ha!” is his reply. At least he accepts his madness.

Time now for some explanations. It turns out Rex’s father killed Malsam’s father, and Malsam killed Rex’s father. Got that? Now he wants to kill Rex. To start, Rex and the other guy fight four of the hired gladiators in the ring. Not a bad fight but it includes some pointless slow-motion camera work.

Soon the gladiators are all finished and the new guy and Rex are forced to fight to get a chance to fight Malsam. Rex obviously wins. He's about to kill the guy but he throws his axe at Malsam, who immediately shoots it down with a laser. Quite good. Meanwhile, the Browns are preparing for their attack. They fire off a load of rockets, blowing up Malsam’s silver bubble tents. Also quite good! Malsam runs down some secret entrance into some caves hidden under one of the tents. Cut to a ton of shooting, fighting and general chaos where the Browns have the clear upper hand as the Warlords don't seem to be able to shoot straight. Reya and Rex team up and head into the caves with a troop of the Browns. Even in the caves there are plenty of troops pointlessly marching about in any old direction.

After a whole load of fighting Rex and Reya finally make it to the heart of the caves where Malsam has his throne-room type place. It's filled with ground fog from noisy flares. Malsam’s last wild card? A red lightsaber! Oh yes, it's time for a lightsaber duel. These things sound and look crap but it’s a superb moment.

Eventually Rex wins and Malsam explodes when the blade hits him (strange - is he made of explosives?). Rex and Reya kiss and they all head back home, but it seems like Rex doesn’t want to stay with the Browns. It isn’t explained at all but he heads off on a horse in your quintessential PA ending. If they really are on a small island, I wonder where he's off to? Why do PA heroes always leave to be on their own? Just to give us one extra thing to laugh at, the very final scene sees Rex talking to some of the Browns on his horse, except all the dialogue is cut out. His mouth is moving but there's just music playing! And that’s the end, followed by a few credits and thanks.

Final Thoughts: This movie is pretty bad. The production values are shocking and the editing is poor. Despite this, I still had a lot of fun. There was a lot to laugh about and it was fun, which is more than can be said about a lot of bigger-budget PA’s. If you have seen a lot of post-apocalyptic films before, and enjoy the rubishness, then this is highly recommended, just don’t blame me if you think it's awful.

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