When you’ve got a film where the title is probably the cleverest thing about it, you might be in trouble a little. When it’s also a vanity production for its martial arts champion star, you’re really really in trouble. Yes, this is another Ron Marchini movie – we’ve done his future-cop series in reverse order, as we reviewed “Karate Cop” a few months ago. But if we imagine this as a prequel…well, who cares? Marchini did not improve as an actor, at all, and nothing carries between the two films, so the only real continuity is that hat with the comically oversized “Special Police” badge on it that he’s so damn attached to.
The introductory voiceover, explaining why the world has gone to hell (it’s the ozone layer), is from Adam West! The era between the end of “Batman” and his rediscovery as an ironic star meant West had lots of roles like this, and here he’s the Police…captain, I guess?…dispatching Marchini and his goons from their command bunker to the hostile surface territory, to bust up some human trafficking.
The basic gist is, Ron is stranded “topside” when a huge solar flare hits the earth, causing everyone exposed to it to go mad (luckily, Ron was able to jump underneath a truck). He picks up three different women and spends most of the movie rescuing them from one predicament or another, while the captain occasionally pops on the radio to tell him what to do, as well as reveal that the police bunker was irreperably damaged in the flare and there’s no backup coming, ever.
Perhaps by accident, this film manages to have something interesting to say about the post-apocalypse. Rather than it be a static situation in the far future, we see things get worse, as remaining sections of decent, normal society are gradually killed off by gangs – there’s a sense we’re witnessing the last gasp of humanity play out. It feels really bloody weird to be this serious in a review of a cheap martial arts movie, but there you go!
Marchini is not only a complete nothing as an actor, he’s not even that good a screen-fighter. Now, I may be the only person using the phrase this way, but when I say that I mean how good his stuff looks on screen (I’m not disputing his real-life skill). But fighting legions of bad guys, he looks stiff and uncomfortable, he’s obviously nowhere near making contact, and there’s very little flash to anything he does. While that may be effective if you were actually taking on a lot of people, it looks quite dull to the action-movie viewer.
Marchini has competition in the acting stakes from the main villains, including Chuck Katzakian as Wraith. His presence is curious, and I wonder if he was just friends with Marchini, because he’s absolutely unbearable as an actor and his entire career consists of two movies in 1976 then this in 1990. Did he just get drunk one day and decide to turn up to an audition for a laugh, and ended up getting hired because he was the only person who showed? We may never know the answers to these questions.
If you can get by the abominably dull middle section, and the wooden acting from everyone, and the dull fighting, then…no, I got nothin’. There’s interesting things in it, but not many, and it manages to make a post-apocalyptic martial arts movie boring. Well done, I suppose? “Karate Cop” is a lot more fun than this was, although if you watch both of them together in the right order, there’s a good debate to be had about what took him from the end of this movie to the beginning of the next one.
Rating: thumbs down