February 22nd, 2012


One of the most durable genres to come from the Thrift Store is the Mad Max rip-off post-apocalypse movies. Steel Dawn falls into that category, although it is not up to the high standards set by Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone or After the Fall of New York. Heck, I don’t know if it’s even as good as Dune Warriors. All I know is that it has one thing that those films don’t have: Patrick Swayze!

Swayze is your basic Mad Max wannabe dude wandering through the post-WWIII desert wasteland. One day he bumps into an old buddy who gets promptly killed by your run of the mill WWE reject in shoulder pads. He then goes wandering around the desert some more until he comes upon a farm ran by a chick (Lisa Niemi, Swayze’s real life wife) and her young son. He gets a job as a hired hand and when she feels that she can trust him, she reveals that they’re hiding a secret underground cache of water. Naturally, the evil Anthony Zerbe wants the water for himself and Swayze agrees to help protect the water supply with his newfound family.

Steel Dawn is a cookie cutter Post Apocalypse movie. It was released near the end of the cycle, so just about everything that had to be said in the genre had pretty much already been said. What’s worse is that the lulls in the action are considerable and the car chases you’d expect from a Mad Max rip-off are pretty pathetic (instead of modified muscle cars, everyone in this movie rides goofy looking soapbox racers). If it wasn’t for the presence of Swayze, this would be as bad if not worse than dozens of similar Italian made knockoffs.

The first time we see Patrick Swayze in this movie, he’s standing on his head in the middle of the desert meditating. Then some sandy scavengers come along and Swayze has to Kung Fu them all. This scene is pretty damn nutty and it’s just a shame that the rest of the movie couldn’t deliver the same brand of WTF goodness.

Swayze delivers a decent enough performance. It’s not one of his best, but middle of the road Swayze is still better than no Swayze at all. The supporting cast is pretty good too. In addition to Zerbe, we also get the one and only Brion James as Swayze’s sidekick. This role isn’t up to James’ usual standards, but like Swayze, middle of the road Brion James is better than no Brion James at all. We also get a young Arnold Vosloo in there too as one of Zerbe’s henchman.

Next week’s Thrift Store flick: The Dirty Seven.