Friday, May 23, 2008

Steel Dawn (1987)

There's nothing quite as pleasant as beer and post-apocalyptic action on a Friday night. Basically, the trailer says it all. In Lance Hool's Steel Dawn, Patrick Swayze is a man without a name (dubbed "nomad" in the credits) trying to make his way in this crazy world after the war that left it a wasteland. He is good with a bow staff and even better with a sword.* Haunted by his past, he is compelled to defend the innocent. Basically, Steel Dawn has all of the right ingredients for a really strong B-action movie.

As I was watching the Swayze and Sho (the antagonist played by Chris Neame) duke it out in the final action sequence, it dawned on me that Sho's haircut was not a commentary on the cultural trends that will follow an inevitable nuclear war, but a reflection of what was cool in 1987. And then I realized the same was true about the Swayze's do. I guess I'm glad that I missed that era of popular culture. Yet part of me couldn't help but calculate how long it would take to grow a pony-tail mullet...

It is hard not to notice the obvious influence of the spaghetti western in Steel Dawn. Although it was filmed in Namibia, Steel Dawn exudes that badass drifter with a heart of gold attitude. There is one point where the Swayze is out in the middle of the desert taking a bath when a couple of bandits ride up on horseback and ask him to join the opposing team. It is a scene that belongs in A Fistful of Dollars, and would have been indistinguishable had it not been for the Swayze's mullet. 

The Swayze's performance here and elsewhere gives me full confidence that he will win his battle with pancreatic cancer, and just in time for a triumphant come back as Bodhi in the Point Break sequel. Patrick Swayze, Action Direct salutes you.

* I was actually quite impressed by Patrick's sword play. Unfortunately, his sword was clearly a product of inferior craftsmanship. Put a Hatori Hanso blade in his hands, or better yet, the Green Destiny, and there is no telling what he'd be capable of.

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