240.  The Ultimate Warrior (US 1975)

 Director: Robert Clouse

Starring: Yul Brynner,Max Von Sydow, Joanna Miles. William Smith, Stephen McHattie, Richard Kelton

Cinematography: Gerald Hirschfield

Original Music: Gil Melle

Story/Script: Clouse

Fact: Clouse's other film of note was Enter the Dragon

In one lineSamurai-style fighter is hired to save a peace-loving community in post apocalypse New York

 

Summary

2012. New York. A plague has wiped out most of the population. All crops have stopped growing. A civilised, peace-loving group of people led by a man known as The Baron try to protect their enclave from a violent mob led by vicious killer called Carrot (your guess is as good as mine).

A scientist (Cal) has developed seeds which are plague immune. Carrot's gang keep attacking 'The Barony' and killing its citizens. One day, a warrior called Carson appears near the municipal library. The Baron hires him to protect the Barony from invaders. Carson is successful but the baron realises that the only viable future lies in an escape to the country and so pays Carson to protect his citizens, his pregnant daughter and Cal's plague-free seeds as they flee to a remote island off North Carolina.

The travellers set off with Carrot's gang in pursuit.

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A very studio-bound science fiction/eco disaster/survivalist/martial arts/post apocalyptic thriller. Much of the lighting seems and cinematography seem very flat and its only the nature of the violence (it was banned in a number of countries) which (on first viewing) delineates it from a TV movie.

The film was an obvious influence on Mad Max and Escape From New York, but was itself influenced by any number of films including The Omega Man and Zero Population Growth.

Brynner plays Carson, the mythical ultimate warrior of the title. The most interesting part of the film is Carson's first appearance. One day, as The Baron (Von Sydow) is desperately scanning the horizon for signs of hope, Carson is simply there, standing mute  and still and zen-like.

"Bad kecks, lad!"

"Fuck off, twat hat."

Brynner is excellent again and like Charlton Heston, he had a number of pulp science fiction films to thank for rescuing him from a career hiatus. As well as shagging Marilyn and Marlene, Brynner found time to smoke 120 ciggies per day, before ironically being killed by a giant iron display cigarette which fell from the front of an opulent tobacconist's store near his Manhattan apartment.

They've got four years to rebuild the Twin Towers - just to annoy pedants.

Another plus in this fairly decent film is the splendid William Smith, here making his second appearance on the list (as nobody is still not calling it) as Carrot, which, besides being a shite name for a baddie, was also the same name as Robin Davies's character in the first series of Catweazle. Just as people used to say: "Have you seen Olivier's Hamlet?", people in the know are more likely to say: "Have you seen Smith's Carrot?" Followed by "Ooh! Pardon!" Probably.

He's not the most subtle or versatile of actors, but if you need a bastard in a hurry, Smith's your man.

Another SV.com favourite Stephen McHattie is also in the film, but he only has a small part. "Ooh! Pardon!"

The fighting scenes are not that great (considering the director's pedigree), but the final chase and plot twist make The Ultimate Warrior worth seeing at least once.

7/10