Thursday, December 17, 2009

In short: The Final Executioner (1984)

A surprising amount of people has survived the inevitable nuclear blow-out. The rich, evil as always, have kept themselves safe from radiation in their evil rich people bunkers underground. But living in a bunker gets boring, so they invent the best hobby ever (just ask Count Zaroff) - hunting the irradiated poor on the surface for sport, well nominally to "cleanse the Earth", but you know how it goes.

Decades later, the electronics expert Alan Tanner (William Mang) finds out that there's really no reason for hiding underground and holding manhunts anymore. The sick and irradiated have long been killed off, so there's no danger for humanity anymore (it's The Future, so don't try to understand his ideas with your puny contemporary mind). Alas, Alan is not getting a reward for his revolutionary insight, but is declared a hunting target.

Transported into a hunting zone on the surface, Alan witnesses the gang rape and murder of his wife by the hunting group of a certain Edra (Marina Costa) and her rival Erasmus aka He-Who-Weareth-Leather (Harrison Muller Jr.). With luck, the gravely wounded man escapes and is found by the aging post-apocalyptic badass Sam (Woody Strode) who goes all martial arts sensei on him.

After much running through flames and crawling under barbed wire, Sam declares Alan ready to take his vengeance.

So Alan sneaks back to his enemies' base in a nice old villa, and begins his slasher style slaughter of justice. Hurray.

Romolo Guerrieri's The Final Executioner doesn't exactly rock my world. While the basic idea of doing a post-apocalyptic version of the old The Most Dangerous Game trope is sound, the film lacks the charm and the overabundance of silly yet fun ideas I love about the Italian post-apocalyptic action film. The world building is rather bland and unexciting and definitely missing in cyborgs, mutants and Fred Williamson dressed up as gay disco Robin Hood.

"Bland" is also the description that fits the film's characters a little too well. When Woody Strode is your most memorable actor, your film has an excitement problem; when a non-descript guy in leather wearing a white scarf is the most creative your baddies get, your excitement problem isn't exactly getting smaller.

Having said that, I don't want to come down to hard on the film. Guerrieri might not have made the most colourful post-apocalyptic action film, but the pacing is not too bad and the final cruel slaughter our supposed hero commits may not be too exciting, yet it also isn't boring. It's just like everything else in the film - a little too low-key for its own good.

However, if you can keep your expectations under control, you can probably have a mildly good time with The Final Executioner. After all (and alas!), they can't all be Warriors of the Wasteland.


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