Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Endgame - Bronx lotta finale (1983)

aka Endgame

The world as we know it has ended again, and what may or may not be the Bronx (actual connections to other Bronx-based Italian post-apocalyptic movies are strenuous at best) is ruled by a military dictatorship that counts among their members good old Gordon Mitchell and black clad goons wearing what looks a lot like SS signets on their helmets. To keep the populace distracted, the rulers hold a Running Man variation called "Endgame" that is even organized in some sort of league system, which seems rather useless given the lethality rate of the whole affair.

One of the best Endgame fighters is Ron Shannon (Al Cliver). While he's running through the dangerous parts of town attempting not to be killed, a woman named Lilith (a clothed Laura Gemser, for no discernible reason listed in the credits under the nom de plume of "Moira Chen") hires him to guide and protect her and a group of associates out of the city to a place in the wastelands. Lilith and her associates are telepathically gifted mutants on the run from the government but they are willing to pay in gold.

After winning the Endgame round by cheating his old friend/enemy/rival Kurt Karnak (George Eastman) with Lilith's help, Shannon assembles a team for the trek through the wastelands. It seems the city is full of people like the imaginatively named martial artist Ninja (Hal Yamanouchi), and mutant-hating strongman Kovack (Mario Pedone), so Shannon acquires his team easily enough.

More trouble starts in the wastelands, where our heroes have to defend themselves against an army of evil blind monks and a half-animal biker gang. I don't know why the animalistically mutated gang has as many fish people as they do, what with the near total absence of water in their surroundings, but hey: fish people!

And can it be a good thing for our heroes that Karnak is following them?

I am not exactly an admirer of Endgame's director Joe D'Amato. Sure, he always was a pretty great director of photography, but a large part of his directorial output tends to the needlessly and tediously boring. Endgame is among the exceptions, though, for while it's not up there with the best (read: most insane) Italian post-apocalypse epics it is rather good fun.

It is clear that D'Amato was not exactly swimming in money for the production, so most of the film takes place in a handful of brick-walled tunnels and in the outside area around a rundown agricultural building but to make up for it, there are also quite a few motorcycles on screen, and rather more stuntmen costumed as various goons and henchpeople around than you'd expect. D'Amato makes good use of what he has available, too, and while there isn't that much advanced silly stuff going on, Endgame is stuffed full of enough silly, cheap, and fast action sequences to fulfil the basic entertainment needs of any friend of Italian pieces of post-apocalyptic nonsense.

Plus, there are various favourites among European cult cinema actors showing off their facial hair. This particular post-apocalyptic future may still possess TV where - in one of the film's funnier ideas - the biggest sporting event known is sponsored by a brand of vitamin pills that's good for basically everything, but shaving utensils are quite a different thing, it seems. On the other hand, the film does treat the generally non-bearded, peaceful mutants as the future and hope of the world while the poor hairy men of the rest of the cast are standing in for the past, so I'm just going to pretend Joe D'Amato cared enough about the movie to put in this kind of (ridiculous) metaphorical stuff. Then I'm going to laugh till I cry.

Be the symbolic status of facial hair as it may, for a man wise in the ways of Italian post-apocalypses like me, what Endgame has to offer (basically: people in leather killing each other) is more than enough to keep me entertained (though I could have survived quite well without the fish man/Gemser rape scene), so I am quite satisfied with what I got here.

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