Equalizer 2000 (1987)

When I was watching Equalizer 2000 and reveled in its non-stop shooting, explosions, and guys getting set on fire, I was like “fudge! I think I just died and went to heaven!” And you know what? I was fudging right! Because my heaven is a post-apocalyptic wasteland where dudes in shoulder pads and helmets drive beat up old cars with spikes welded onto the hoods! Because I know my God is a smooth-chested stud dressed in leather who doesn’t say a hell of a lot unless you count his massive gun belching death at evildoers as conversation! Because in heaven, there’s about one chick there and its Corinne Wahl!

Like a low-budget exploitation filmmaking Jesus, director Cirio H. Santiago leads us to the Promised Land, where every guy who isn’t Richard Norton exists to be used by Richard Norton as a human shield as he takes advantage of the ongoing feud between rival factions to settle a very personal score!

Richard plays Slade, a guy whose father was a big time military hero with The Ownership. The Ownership is one of three factions, the other two named appropriately enough The Rebels and The Mountain People. When Slade’s dad is killed by one of his own men (Lawton), Slade goes post-post-apocalyptic on his ass! (It’s like post-apocalyptic but even meaner!)

Like all truly great movies, Equalizer 2000 doesn’t let itself get bogged down in characters, story or technique. You’ve got groups of armed men trying to kill each other with Slade leading the way against one of the groups. There’s no need for much else, least of all any introspection. This is revenge we’re talking about!

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Besides, I tend to think of a movie like Equalizer 2000 as a pre-documentary. After all, what we’ve got here is your basic nuclear something or other that happened and turned northern Alaska into a rock-filled desert with quarries that look suspiciously like the same Filipino locations featured in Cirio’s later Raiders Of The Sun which also starred Richard Norton! All you’ve got to do is take a look at the current state of world affairs and it doesn’t take much imagination to see that we’re headed toward a time when guys in leather pants with Australian accents start roaming around The Last Frontier.

While Equalizer 2000 does share quite a bit with Raiders Of The Sun (star, director, footage, star’s leather wardrobe), its differences are what really puts Equalizer 2000 in a class all by itself. For instance, the midgets in Raiders Of The Sun? Gone! Replaced by Corinne Wahl and a big ass gun called Equalizer 2000! Sure, I don’t recall anyone in the movie actually calling it that, but the way everyone caressed and held it, how could they not have given it such a bad ass name!

Equalizer 2000 even gets top billing in the movie! The start of the movie opens up with a loving shot of E2K rotating around against a black backdrop. (I imagined it was rotating magnificently in space like one of those monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

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Then we had the scene where Slade first lays on E2K while it was still being built and going into a kind of trance! Immediately, Slade and E2K are inseparable, with Slade diligently cleaning her every nook and cranny before finally engaging in a glorious E2K building montage that had Slade working on it as if he were Vulcan himself!

And Corinne Wahl? Heck, I’d trade her for a bunch of Filipino midgets any day of the week! Her leather gear was second only to Slade’s and you don’t have to be a genius or porn-addict to see that she just keep the hooker boots she used for her Penthouse photo shoots and wore those in the movie!

And you want to talk about a trooper? Check out how she is busting her ass trying not to fall down while walking around the rocky landscape in those four inch heels! Let’s see a Meryl Streep or Jodie Foster do that! On second thought, let’s not!

Slade and Corinne’s adventures together chiefly consist of them rescuing one another after one of them gets captured during some fight. Sometimes Corinne gets captured trying to broker a deal for rockets with an evil Robert Patrick (T-1000 from Terminator 2), sometimes Slade is getting shot and needing some TLC.

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And don’t you believe that all of Slade’s humanity has been shot right out of him by the poop sandwich the post-apocalypse has served up to him. When he and Corinne are by the fire after he’s rescued her in particularly dashing fashion, she asks him why he came back for her. His response? He sexes her! Look, if your name was Slade and you wore leather pants, any other answer would be a filthy, dirty lie!

But Cirio handled it classy and it all took place off screen, since he only had about 76 minutes to play with. I’m guessing that the MGM/UA American VHS release I had (the awesome cover art is worth the purchase by itself) that claimed it was 85 minutes was wishful thinking. And even in that 76 minutes, Cirio sometimes had trouble covering up some of the limitations the movie’s sensibly non-existent budget caused, such as the scene where the fly crawled around on the camera and the scene where a guy was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, but a moment later when he was set on fire, he was wearing a long-sleeved jacket!

I was also unsure why so many Filipino extras were roaming around northern Alaska, but we are talking about a world gone mad, so there might be some plausible reason for that which was lost in the nuclear holocaust that caused the post-apocalypse we’re benefiting from in the movie.

And like all movies that stand the test of time, this one left you wanting more, though that may just have been due to some bad editing since we didn’t find out what happened to Corinne after she got shot and Slade just sort of drive off after it was over. (Parents should be aware of a particularly upsetting scene where Slade destroys E2K by slamming it against a rock. It’s kind of this movie’s “Old Yeller” moment and will likely leave younger, gun-obsessed viewers crying.)

© 2013 MonsterHunter.)

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