Stryker (1983)

Stryker PosterStryker is the best post-apocalyptic movie not featuring Richard Norton (Equalizer 2000) that Cirio H. Santiago ever made! Like Dune Warriors (another post-apocalyptic film Cirio made without Norton), Stryker is all about a wasteland (surely the same Filipino rock quarry all of Cirio’s Mad Max rip-off movies are shot in) where water is scarce and bands of dirtbags in tricked out battle cars cruise around killing villagers they think have it. Compared to Stryker though, Dune Warriors comes off like the amateur hour and 15 minutes that it is, lacking the backstory, the strong central characters, and the pathos Stryker is blessed with!

Pathos? Am I kidding or trying to be cute? Aren’t all great Cirio movies about guys scuttling over rocks and dressed in shoulder pads simply an exercise in how many beat up junk cars can be blown up in less than 90 minutes? Of course they are!

But the truly great ones give us a reason to be invested in those explosions! There was so much going on in Stryker while stuff was blowing up that a few times, I almost believed I was watching something that wanted to mimic an actual movie instead of the loose collection of action scenes shot in the wilderness we usually are treated to!

Take Stryker for instance. He’s the ultimate survivor, decked out in leather pants, leather vest, black wifebeater, and Crocodile Dundee hat, rifle at the ready for whatever sort of action the parched Earth dares to serve up. He doesn’t talk much and when he does, it’s usually to explain why he doesn’t talk much.

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And why doesn’t he talk? Because everything’s already been said! Crud! A guy could watch a hundred real movies and never get that kind of insight from a character! And you know what else? Nobody listens anyway! We know Stryker’s right! Or at least we would if we had bothered to listen to him!

Stryker’s world view while no doubt impacted by the crappy world he lives in, is undoubtedly primarily formulated by his past! A past that he is haunted by!

Once, Stryker was a man with love in his heart! A man with a woman he was devoted to! But then she was captured by the evil Kardis! And her head was chopped off right in front of Stryker!

Stryker escaped, dishing out all sorts of carnage in the process, even managing to chop off Kardis’ hand, but that hardly makes up for his old lady getting decapitated, right? So he did what any of us would do in that situation. He struck out on his own, leaving the colony run by his brother, Trun, and hit the road!

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And then Stryker comes back three years later! He returns with a new hottie named Dehla that he rescued from Kardis’ forces. Along with Dehla and Stryker, Bandit comes back to the colony as well. Bandit and Stryker stare at one another now and again which show they respect each other and when circumstances force Stryker to leave the colony, the goodbye looks between him and Bandit are every bit as emotional as between Stryker and Dehla. And a lot more creepy, too!

But there’s so many unanswered questions! Trun wants to know why Stryker left all those years ago! Stryker responds that everyone has to find their own highway to hell! Again with the philosophical revelations that will stay with me for years to come!

But Stryker isn’t through just yet! When Trun attempts to take over the colony with access to water to prevent Kardis from getting it, Stryker wants to know what the difference is between Trun and Kardis! Stryker has the wisdom to see that becoming a tyrant in the name of fighting another tyrant just makes you, um, a tyrant!

And so, Stryker again leaves, to find his own path. A path that leads straight into the clutches of Kardis!

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When Stryker was being dragged behind a vehicle on the way back to the bad guys’ base camp, I was worried! For Kardis! I knew that they were just scrapping away the last bits of humanity that Stryker still possessed! That when Stryker would be rescued by his Filipino midget pals he helped earlier in the film, that he would lead his dwarf army against Kardis and liberate the colony his freedom loving spirit was only recently forced to flee! And when the midgets handed Stryker the machine gun, I knew we were in for exactly one thing: lots of extras dressed in black falling down lots of rock piles!

Don’t worry that Stryker is saving up all his kick ass for the last moments of the movie though! He’s out there banging out the stunt work for you from the very beginning, thwarting Dehla’s kidnapping, rescuing his brother who was buried up to his head in the sand and pissed on, and carjacking a tanker truck full of water and ramming it straight into Kardis’s camp!

He’s even got to storm Kardis’ hideout to stop Dehla from being raped! This results in a spectacularly slow neck snapping by Stryker of a guy who is on top of Dehla, thrusting away! And then Stryker goes into post-traumatic stress mode, flashing back to his old lady, and he stabs the guy over and over! Dang, I feel you, Stryker! Your whole freaking movie sent me into paroxysms of post-apocalypse-awesome disorder by the time it was over!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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