Monday, April 16, 2012

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #98: Stryker (1983)

Leather! Boobs! Bullets!
Unlikable characters
Road Warrior? No.

The holy trinity of my interest is this:


Stryker is of the third. And it pains me to report that it's not very good. But if you're hankering for some Road Warrior-esque post-apocalyptic atmosphere, Stryker  might do right by you. Provided that you can supply beer and comrades.

So in this one you've got lots of leather, chains, ridiculous looking cars augmented with various impractical weaponry, desert marauders, and bow-wielding amazon biker chicks. What you don't have is any character worth giving a shit about. Each one annoys, each one lacks. You have a movie here in which none of the characters are terribly likable. Not because they're bad people or anything, but because they don't say enough or do enough to endear you to them. Every scene in Stryker is so cut and paste, so laughably obvious that almost no part of you is engaged. They're not even characters. There's nothing like a character arc anywhere in this movie. It's wonderful to behold.

Plot-wise, water's the precious thing everyone's fighting over, not gasoline. Road Warrior, the 1981 flick that was totally rad and sparked this whole screen genre was all about gasoline. Gasoline addiction is something we all know well in our modern age. Just the other day I stepped off of my modified Vespa (it has a mustard gas cannon), pushed back my spiked football helmet and slew a man with my combo sawed-off shotgun/steel trident crossbow. Because prices were so high, you know? I didn't even buy gas, I just wanted a cash for life ticket. I didn't win.

Water's a big deal too though, I guess. We'll worry about that someday I reckon. In Stryker it's serious business, and when the bad guy learns that a good guy has a secret mountain spring somewhere, well, look out! You've got a movie on your hands! Desert marauding is thirsty work on both sides, and Stryker, our lone wandering hero caught between them, has canteens to fill. Stryker's pretty aloof. So aloof that his motivations are completely absent. Self-preservation and greed don't even seem to be his modus operandi. He doesn't seem to care about much, but for whatever reason he seems to like these Jawa-like desert people he gives a bit of water to one time after they attack him savagely. Their tiny, shrill, dubbed voices only able to twitter one word at a time over and over until they're understood is certainly one of the most ridiculous and demeaning depictions of little people I've seen in a movie. I should be pc, sorry: they're mutants.

Unlikable as Stryker is, by the time the third act rolls around all of the other non-characters suddenly care about the guy. Our main heroine makes out with him before he deserts them in their time of need, and everybody pats him on the back as he walks away. Okay, sure.

As you'd expect from an exploitation film (this one hails from the Phillipines) it gets a bit rapey. Lone females inevitably get their shirts torn off by grimy raiders and roughed up a bit before the hero steps in. When the amazon biker chicks show up, you'd expect some ass-kicking to commence, but of course, they have to be reduced to being just women. As soon as the menfolk arrive, the fierce amazons mostly just run around helplessly, look for their male interests and, calling out their names, get shot to death in the middle of a firefight.

Yes please.

The movie's soundtrack is noticeably annoying and hilarious for it. It's very, very overplayed. Essentially it's just one lackluster and inappropriate melody, either synthesized or played by soft piano for those really tear-jerky and sensitive moments. As crappy as the movie is, the ending actually caught me off-guard, and I'll have to give it kudos for that. It wasn't a particularly good ending, it just kind of comes out of nowhere, and is bewildering enough to be a point of enjoyment. Okay movie, you just do your thing. I'll watch you.

So: Mostly worth it if you like bad movies. Certainly if you like bad post-apocalyptic movies.

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