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1/14/13

STEEL DAWN - REVIEW


Patrick Swayze.

In a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic future.

With a sword.

In the 80's.

Why would you NOT watch that movie?!

It almost sounds too good to be true, and it is. The film starts off just like you'd hoped, with a very silly, very cheap-looking sequence involving Swayze being attacked by sand mummies. To give you an idea, the scene ends with Swayze making the SAND bleed. Yup, it is that awesome. Then he meets up with an old friend, some martial arts master and/or sheriff-type dude and just when you expect things to go all Kung-Fu, a bunch of bad leather-wearin' rejects from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome show up to drag the plot down to something resembling a cliched western minus the hats. Which I do like, genre-bending is welcome in most films as far as I'm concerned, but I really wanted Steel Dawn to go all out. Instead of ripping off every Mad Max film and every Sergio Leone flick ever made, why not differentiate from that Mel Gibson-starring franchise and maybe take advantage of the sci-fi theme fully? Steel Dawn isn't a stylish movie, it doesn't look particularly good or authentic and it's not directed creatively so you barely get that spaghetti western vibe.

Mostly, it all feels super low budget. Which it is.

Plot-wise, it's all very familiar. Dude shows up at some people's "ranch", sort of becomes the new dad to a kid and the new husband to some woman (who actually happened to be Swayze's wife Lisa Niemi) until something goes wrong, he sorts things out and leaves for no apparent reason at the end. Blade Runner alumni Brion James is also part of the family as Tark, a kind of Obelix/Hulk Hogan hybrid clearly designed just so he could die heroically and stupidly at some point in the film. The villains are played by a particularly hammy Anthony Zerbe (think a tamer version of Dennis Hopper in Waterworld) and a weirdly posh-sounding British Bon Jovi wannabe. They're nowhere near threatening but they are undeniably fun. Mostly because they feel so out of place. The action in the movie, when it happens, is also pretty enjoyable I should concede.

Steel Dawn is one of those films that should have been glorious and kind of is, in a way, but really fails to live up to how great it could have been. It sounded too lol to be true, and it was but it's still worth a look as it is an entertainingly silly watch.

If not a memorable one.

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