|Pain don't hurt...but Steel Dawn kinda does.|
After World War III, the world is left a big ol' desert. Well, at least it is where this movie takes place. An unnamed wanderer (Patrick Swayze --- he's called "Nomad" on IMDb, but "The Warrior of Destiny" in the movie trailer...I'll just call him Dalton Jr., or DJ, to avoid confusion) travels through this harsh terrain, looking for a purpose. Along the way, he fights sand people (the Star Wars kind, not the derogatory term) and shows off his sword, which has several holes in the blade, which absolutely don't make the sword weaker or make it look like it was designed from an erector set.
|Kids love nuclear war!|
As far as post-apocalyptic movies go, this isn't the worst that I have seen. In fact, it has one of the more workable premises I can think of. It doesn't make any absolute statements about the world, it just explains that fresh water is very valuable, which makes sense in a desert. And, let's face it, plausibility is usually a pretty big stumbling block for this type of movie. Another plus is the fact that Brian May of Queen scores it; well, it's not a fantastic score, so I guess that's more of a tidbit, but whatever. Trust me, it's tough finding things to applaud this movie for.
So, where does it go wrong? Let's start with the details of this post-apocalyptic world. For starters, can anyone explain to the hair?
|I would cry, too, if I had a post-apocalyptic perm.|
|Is this the greatest film mullet of all time?|
The acting is about what you would expect from a Patrick Swayze vehicle. He, once again, plays someone who doesn't emote until he has to fight the final bad guy. I love how serious Swayze takes his terrible action roles; it is impossible to listen to him read off some of these awful lines and not smile a little. No, he's not good in this movie, but this quiet hero does give us a glimpse at Swayze's work in Road House. Lisa Niemi may have inspired Swayze's hit, "She's Like the Wind (Racer)," but that's about all she inspires. When I was watching this movie, I was more impressed by Brion freaking James than either of the leads, and that's a pretty bad sign. To be fair, I was impressed by how blonde he got his beard, but that's besides the point. If you make the mistake of watching Steel Dawn, you might recognize Arnold Vosloo as an evil henchman. Or you might not. It depends on how much you love The Mummy series, I guess. The best character in the film was a stereotypically gay doctor who was transported across the desert by rickshaw, and I that was just because of the rickshaw. Oh, and there was a child actor that I left out of my synopsis, because he was Jake Lloyd-bad. You're welcome.
Lance Hool has directed only three movies in his career (he's mainly a producer), but he was directed some of the greatest actors in Hollywood. Aside from Patrick Swayze, he has had the pleasure of Chuck Norris and late-career Tom Berenger as his leading actors. If that doesn't clue you in to Hool's directing talents, let me gently suggest that his actors tend not to be critically acclaimed for dramatic performances. He's not much of an action director, either. Fight scenes are nearly indecipherable; I often couldn't tell how many opponents Swayze was supposed to be fighting. I also don't see the need for useless somersaults in the middle of sword fights, and I sure don't see the effectiveness of twirling a sword while you're fighting. Hool managed to get poor acting and awful fight scenes out of a movie that has very little to offer except for those two things. On the bright side, he managed to find enough sand to make the movie.