1986 - Future Hunters (Lightning Pictures)
[US/Filipino/Trinidad co-production filmed in 1985 as "The Spear Of Destiny"; released as "Deadly Quest", in France as “Les Nouveaux Conquérants”, in Italy as "Eroi Del Futuro", and in Poland as "Mysliwi Z Przyszlosci"]
Director Cirio H. Santiago Story/Producer/2nd Unit Director Anthony Maharaj Screenplay “J.L.”/J. Lee Thompson Cinematography Ricardo Remias Music Ron Jones Editor “Bass”/Gervacio Santos Sound Effects Editor Rodel Capule Sound Effects Mixer Rolando Ruta Casting Henry “Stakowsky”/Strzalkowski Production Design “Joe”/Jose Mari Avellana Art Directors Ronnie Cruz, Boyet Camaya Special Effects Ben Otico Makeup Artists Teresa Mercader, Norma Remias Camera Operator Proceso Lázaro 2nd Unit Camera Operator Johnny Araojo Location Manager Dick Reyes Wardrobe Elvie Santos Production Coordinator Martin Perez Script Supervisor Nonett J. Garcia Continuity Chining Trinidad Post Production Coordinator Noah Blough Sound Re-recording Mixers Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell Music Editor John Caper Jr Music Engineer Bill Cobb Music Supervisor Ezra Kliger Orchestrator [uncredited] Matthew Ender Pre-Production (Trinidad) Judy Maharaj, Azsha Maharaj, Charmaine Maharaj Production Services (Manila) Flordelena Furugganan
Cast Robert Patrick (Slade), Linda Carol (Michelle), Ed Crick (Fielding), Bob Schott (Bauer), David Light (Zaar), Paul Holmes (Hightower), Peter Shilton (Old Man), Ursula Marquez (Amazon Queen), Elizabeth Oropesa (Huntress), Bruce “Li”/Le (Liu), Jang Lee Hwang (Silverfox), Richard Norton (Matthew), [uncredited] Ramon D'Salva (Hong Kong Gangster), Nick Nicholson (Shootist in Car), Mathew Westfall Nazi Soldiers Mike Abbott, Eric Hahn, Henry Strzalkowski
Cirio told me in our interview that his post-apocalypse feature Stryker (1983) held the fondest memories for him, and I can understand why. It's not just the first in a string of Road Warrior clones which, due to its phenomenal success overseas, brought Cirio back into the Corman fold. Moreso, it's the film which neatly divides his export career in two distinct phases, the Drive-In Years (from 1973's Savage to 1981's Firecracker) and the Direct-To-Video Years - a slight misnomer, since Corman was releasing some features to theatres as late as The Sisterhood (1988), but apt, since it was in the burgeoning Home Video market that Cirio would be at his most industrious.
Cirio originally approached Corman to distribute Stryker, and for reasons only known to Roger, he turned it down. Instead, Cirio found an international sales agent, Trinidad-born distributor Anthony Maharaj, who managed to sell the film worldwide as a cost-effective alternative to the rampaging hordes of post-apocalypse films pouring out of Europe in the wake of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Escape From New York (Cirio was delighted, if completely mystified, why Stryker would have a dream run in French cinemas for an entire year!). With the aspiring filmmaker Maharaj, a three-film partnership was born while Cirio was still reviving his association with Corman, all with Maharaj on producer and story duties: the urban actioner First Mission (1984), the I Spit On Your Grave-inspired Naked Vengeance (1985), and a film defies any single tag: a post-apocalypse, jungle action-adventure – with kung fu! - called Spear Of Destiny, later renamed Future Hunters (1986).
The film opens, appropriately enough, in a desert wasteland in 2025 AD, almost forty years after a global calamity has turned the Earth into wasteland. A lone warrior named Matthew (Richard Norton, complete with broad Australian accent) is pursued by an evil warlord named Zaar (David Light); both are after the prize, the Spear of Longinus, said to be the point that pierced the side of Christ while on the Cross, and once the spear head and shaft are reunited, so legend has it, gives the beholder its power to change the world's destiny. Thus, in the hands of those insane enough to wield it for personal gain (Hitler for one, or so the story goes), it can cause empires to fall. In Matthew's hands – and he is mankind's only hope, the narrator reminds us – it can turn back time. And it does – to 1986, moments before the global catastrophe is set to occur, and he stumbles from the temple into modern-day California carrying the Spear's point, just in time to save Michelle (Linda Carol), a young kewpie-doll anthropologist and her boyfriend Slade (Robert Patrick) from a gang of biker rapists. Slam! Matthew kicks into high gear, Whack! Down the bikers drop. Then Slunk! Matthew plunges the Spear head into one of the bikers and watches the guy melt into molasses.
Sadly Norton's character checks out of the film early, expiring on Slade's back seat after warning them of the calamity to come, and begging them to find a scientist named Hightower. He's the expert at the local university on Spear of Longinus, but is currently MIA looking for a fabled Venus Valley somewhere in Southeast Asia. His assistant Fielding (Ed Crick) is more than interested in Michelle's artefact, and on the trail of Professor Hightower from California to Hong Kong they find themselves pursued by Fielding's henchmen, a jackbooted Aryan thug named Bauer (Bob Schott), random gunmen, lone assassins, and even the Triads. Even a low-key visit to a Hong Kong shrine ends in a kung fu showdown between the white-haired temple priest Silverfox (the ubiquitous martial arts actor Jang Lee Hwang) and their taxi driver, played by one of the Bruceploitation industry's busiest clones, Bruce Le! Everyone wants the spear, it seems, and none more than Fielding's neo-Nazi organization, who clench their fists and gibber ceaselessly about bringing on the “cleansing” fires of Armageddon.
At this point the trail takes Michelle and Slade to the Philippines, where on one of its many islands it's rumoured the lost Venus Valley is located. Their tour guides? Cirio's old Stryker stand-by, an army of dwarf monks: the essential binding, it seems, with most Pinoy B films, but without the freakshow element we would expect; unlike Western culture, Filipino dwarves have less sinister or nightmarish connotations, and are regarded instead as innocent, pure, childlike or somehow magical. In Cirio's world, however, it's more like a nod to George Lucas' Sand People or Ewoks, and deliberately cued for yet another “what the...?” moment. From then on the film's like a Cirio pinball machine: from dwarves to Mongols, to Nazis, to Amazon Women, BACK to Nazis, and a finale where the Spear and Shaft are finally united in Jo Mari Avellana's elaborately threadbare Amazon village, but not before a fight with an awkward Michelle and an Amazon Huntress (Seventies starlet and “wet look” pioneer Eliabeth Oropesa) over a fire-lined crocodile pit. More explosions, an avalanche of plaster boulders, and we've just witnessed one nutty, NUTTY movie.
|Nick Nicholson...times two!|
Robert Patrick on Future Hunters from the Pretty Scary website:
Tell us a romantic love story involving YOU...
Mrs. Barbara Patrick. I met my wife in a play reading the first play I did when I got to Los Angeles called Go in 1984. I fell for her right there. She was just... I knew immediately that that was my wife, that was my girl. It took her about a year to even go out with me. .. Eventually things lined up she went out on a date with me. She went with me to my first film audition and I got it.
Question: You got your start with Roger Corman!
Ron Howard, Jack Nicholson, Scorsese... there's so many people that had their roots there. More than 50% of the people working in Hollywood today started by working with Roger Corman. And I am very very proud of that experience!
Horror fans have such a wonderful positive outlook on it. They are so dedicated.
If I were going to recommend a Robert Patrick movie to a friend, would you prefer I tell them to see Warlords of Hell or Future Hunter?
Is that really Robert Patrick stuff?
I'll never forget, I gotta tell you. And I am not avoiding the question. I made Warlords from Hell and then I made Future Hunter for the same director. And I was in NY doing Conan O'Brien for The X Files, and here I am in Manhattan in this beautiful hotel and I'm doing all this Regis and Kathy Lee stuff and I have the TV on in the background and all of a sudden I hear this high pitched whiny voice, and I am listening and I go, OMG that's me. What movie is that?' and I look, and I'm horrified, and it's Future Hunters, and its on TNT. And I'm just like, 'NOOOOOOO they wouldn't do this to me!',but sure as shit, there it was! It's just a humbling experience.
Can you imagine the fear I felt? I mean, here I am about to do Conan O'Brien and Future Hunters is on TV.
There's some stuff I do in Future Hunters that's all right. I'm trying hard and working hard in it. There's some bad stuff I do too.
Warlords has some cool motorcycle stuff. Is my wife in that movie? No. That was Corinne Wallace in that movie. That's where I was cutting my teeth and Thank God. I got to learn a lot of my craft doing movies like that that will never be seen by the light of day except for people like you!
What do you think about a Robert Patrick Film festival where we show Warlords From Hell, Future Hunters, and Killer Instinct?
No! I can't deal with it, please no! Killer Instinct, I think that was my third film. We shot that in the Philippines. I was so bad in that movie. Just horrible.
Fred Adelman's review from his Critical Condition Online website:
Cirio Santiago, the prolific Filippino director, comes up with another cropper that tries to imitate many of the popular mainstream action films. This one mixes in equal parts of MAD MAX, THE TERMINATOR, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and ENTER THE DRAGON with wildly uneven results. The prolog, set in the year 2025, finds Matthew (Richard Norton) roaming the nuked-out land in search of the Spear Of Longinus, said to have killed Jesus during his cricifixion. Matthew finds the spear and touches it, which transports him back to 1986. Matthew is shot and mortally wounded as he saves Michelle (Linda Carol) and Slade (Robert Patrick, who would later star as the evil T-1000 in TERMINATOR 2 and replace David Duchovny on THE X-FILES), an archaeological couple, from an evil biker gang. During his dying breath, Matthew tells the couple that they must return the spear to its' rightful place in order to avoid future Earth's nuclear destruction. With the spear in hand, Michelle and Slade are chased across the world by modern day Nazis, led by the evil Fielding (Ed Crick) and Bauer (Bob Schott), who plan on using the spear for world domination (what else?). Along the way, Michelle and Slade must face kung-fu fights (courtesy of Chinese action star Bruce Li), numerous gunfights, an exploding helicopter, a plane crash, a band of marauding Mongols, jungle traps, a pigmie tribe and a civilization of Amazon women before they can complete their quest.
Originally filmed as THE SPEAR OF DESTINY in 1986, it took three years to find a release and it's easy to see why. The screenplay is hackneyed and full of gaping plot holes that a train or good sized elephant could fit through. The action scenes (there are many) range from good to poorly executed (especially the rockslide in the finale). As an actor, Robert Patrick makes a serviceable action hero. He speaks his lines as if he cannot believe what he is saying. The only saving grace is lovely Linda Carol, who is not afraid to get into the middle of the rough stuff and get her hair dirty. You can also catch luscious Linda in REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS (1986) and CARNAL CRIMES (1991). To sum it up, FUTURE HUNTERS is no better or worse than Santiago's other films. That's not saying much. An Avid Home Entertainment Release. Rated R.
Keith's review from the Teleport City website:
It can’t be! It just can’t be! I’m only a couple films into my Project VHS reviews, in which I take a written tour of some of my strangest old VHS tapes, and I’m finding that the common thread running through all the films I’ve selected for this treatment is that they lead me almost instantly to refer to them as Lovecraftian horrors that cannot be processed by the feeble mind of man, and thus merely witnessing them will destroy you and turn you mad. And it turns out, that comparison can easily be sustained in our next foray into video cassette nostalgia. Although not nearly as batshit bizarre as Roller Blade, Cirio Santiago’s Future Hunters still resembles some ancient horror buried for millions of years at the bottom of a pit beneath some black and unnamed ruin of a city comprised primarily of forms and colors that have no corresponding point of reference in our own universe.
In fact, when first I purchased this tape, I ended up returning it as defective. I bought it used from a video store that was liquidating its stock back in 1995 or so, and a few days later, I popped it in the VCR and set about watching it while I did some simple household chores. The film started out as a Road Warrior rip-off, with occasional Hong Kong action film villain Richard Norton tearing around the post-apocalyptic wasteland in a muscle car. Familiar enough territory. Then I got distracted, possibly by the discovery that our refrigerator had been leaking, and the leakage had turned into a putrid yellowish goo underneath the crisper drawers (man, talk about unspeakable Lovecraftian horrors). When I finished towelling up the gelatinous gloop and throwing the towel onto the roof of the credit union across the parking lot, I returned to the living room and found that someone had recorded a different movie over the one I’d purchased. Because there on my massive ten-inch screen was a Bruce Le kung fu film, with the famous Bruce Lee imitator locked in mortal kicking combat with Hwang Jang Lee wearing a silver wig.
I took the movie back, told them of the error, and had my $3.00 returned to me. Oddly, a couple weeks later, I found the film for sale again at a different video store, and for some reason or other, I purchased it. It was like unwittingly being saved from purchasing some accursed item only to equally unwittingly acquire the item again. It was destiny. So once again, I went home and popped it in the VCR to watch while taking care of some chores. It was around this time that I discovered some hamsters had escaped their twisting tube universe and had gone feral, living in the walls of our duplex. This revelation came shortly after noticing that the area we used to clean out our various aquariums — a flower garden owned by the aforementioned credit union — had been turned by uneaten hamster trail mix into a garden of sunflowers and corn stalks, which we eventually harvested and ate while the poor guy in charge of that small plot of flora was wondering how the hell his flower garden turned into a corn field.
Anyway, after I gave up trying to corner one of the wily rodents and resigned myself at last to being the guy who destroyed the north Florida ecosystem by introducing wild hamsters into its delicate balance, I returned to the movie only to find out, son of a bitch! It was that damn Bruce Le movie again! Although I flirted with the idea that somehow the film had been purchased by someone who promptly resold it to a different video store that then put it on sale for me to end up purchasing a second time, the more logical theory emerged that this movie was just really schizophrenic, and what had started out as a Mad Max movie morphed at some point into a film about Bruce Le wearing a modern track suit and fighting a guy who looks to have stepped out of the Chinese middle ages. So I decided that I was going to have to sit down and actually pay attention to this movie if I hoped to ever unravel its tantalizing mysteries. What I discovered was even more bizarre than initially I suspected.
So as I saw the first time around, the movie opens in the near future. Society has crumbled and the earth has been ravaged by nuclear war which, in the 1980s, was as versatile an explanation for pretty much anything as “hacking” is today. Depending on the movie, nuclear war could turn the world into a desert wasteland populated by S&M punks or a lush jungle populated by Amazons, or it could somehow cause dinosaurs to come back. Similarly, if your movie requires someone to get some piece of information or control over some device they couldn’t possibly achieve, all you need to do is write the following line of dialogue: “If I can just hack in through the back door…we’re in!” then you can do pretty much any damn thing you want.
So it’s the future. A guy named Matthew (Richard Norton), is speeding around in the desert looking for the fabled Spear of Longinus, the weapon that pierced the side of Christ during his crucifixion. According to this film, the loosely defined good guys of the future need the spear so they can travel back in time and prevent nuclear obliteration from ever having happened. Unfortunately, Matthew is pursued by the bad guys, lead by someone named Zaar (unfortunately not played by Robert Z’Dar), and where as Matthew has a cool car, awesome hair, and the same gun I think Richard Norton had last time he was a post-apocalyptic hero (that being in the film Equalizer 2000), Zaar has tanks and wears a gratuitous cape. They capture Matthew, bring him to within a stone’s throw of where he was going anyway, then let him escape. Then they chase Matthew to some crumbling temple where he finds the mythical spear with relative ease, only to have the full brunt of Zaar’s armored divisions brought down on his head.
Then we cut to 1986, where college student Michelle (Linda Carol) is randomly poking around the ruins of the very same temple of the future with her boyfriend, Terminator 2 (Robert Patrick) because her “big exam is coming up.” Once again I have to question the colleges attended by people in B-movies. In what class can you prepare for your test by driving out to an old church frequented, as we will soon learn, by rapist biker gangs, and looking at it with no real defined purpose? And if it’s archaeology or art history or something, wouldn’t other members of the class be out there as well, or at the very least, shouldn’t you be doing something a little more scientific than wandering aimlessly while a Terminator 2 sits on the steps and complains about being bored and needing to get back to town so he can kill John Conner? Or shouldn’t the professor at least have warned his female students that the deserted site is routinely patrolled by vicious gangs of rapists? This is as unacademic as the classrooms in movies like Gor where the entire curriculum seems to be based around listening to a professor make random proclamations about some ridiculous pet theory of his, or the grad student in Cannibal Ferox whose thesis was “Cannibals don’t exist any more” when everyone else had to write thesis papers like “Aspects on Process Engineering in the Finnish Pulp and Paper Industry.”
Michelle’s investigative archaeology is accompanied by that 80s direct-to-video action film music that is so hard to explain yet so familiar as soon as you hear it. It’s a playful little number, and the sound isn’t straight synth nor is it a mimic of the piano, exactly. But in pretty much every 80s direct-to-video action film, they used this style of theme for the “makin’ love” scene or the “just horsin’ around” scene. I’m a bit surprised that there is no Future Hunters soundtrack on Varese Sarabande, as “Soundtrack on Varese Sarabande” is the single most repeated phrase in the entire Psychotronic Video Guide. The world is a darker place for not having a CD quality recording of “Love Theme from Future Hunters.”
After this goes on a spell, Michelle and Terminator 2 are randomly attacked by a biker gang who, for some reason or another, like to troll the ruins of out in the middle of nowhere churches looking for loving young college couples to terrorize. I guess they didn’t realize they were messing with Terminator 2, who I assumed would instantly turn his pinky finger into a long silver spike and stick it in someone’s shoulders (a painful sensation not unlike the one you’ll feel watching most of this movie), then follow it up with that very determined “running after the vehicle” shtick all Terminator 2′s are wont to do. But then this was 1986, and we were barely done with Terminator 1, so I guess Robert Patrick didn’t have his Terminator 2 powers yet (though later in the film he does do a determined run after a jeep in a scene I’m sure he included on his highlight reel to get the T2 job). As a result, he gets his ass kicked and is forced to soothe his bruised ego with the knowledge that it won’t be too long before he’s strong enough to beat up the gaunt, corpse-like Edward Furlong, who would achieve the dubious honor in his twenties of looking less vital and more deathly than Peter Cushing (whose picture is in the dictionary next to the word “gaunt”) did a month after he died.
Michelle is about to be on the bad end of an 80s action film style raping when Richard Norton wanders up out of nowhere and beats the tar out of the bikers before getting shot and handing the Spear of Longinus over to Michelle, stammering that she must use it to prevent the apocalypse. So I guess the time travel thing works, even though they later explain that the spear can’t possibly work unless you have both halves of it (the shaft is elsewhere). He also stammers a few names, all of whom, conveniently, are related in some way to the community college (or Touro) Michelle attends. And then Matthew dies and goes off to get more use out of his costume in Equalizer 2000.
As is often the case with these types of films, I realize that I’m straying a bit too far into the realm of plot synopsis, but once again I feel it’s justified, as there’s not much hope otherwise of explaining just how cracked in the head a film like Future Hunters can manage to be. Because before too long, Michelle and T2 are on the run from a secret society of Nazis who want to get the Spear and use it to cause the apocalypse we saw before the credits. Which is kind of odd, as they couldn’t possibly have possessed the spear the first time they caused the future apocalypse — which is the first and only time I’ll mention the underlying stupidity of the entire time travel plotline, since for starters is gets dropped almost immediately, but mostly because no one should bend themselves out of shape worrying about shoddy time travel threads in Future Hunters, a movie that, soon enough, will present us with everything from an impromptu kungfu film to an army of stone age midgets to a secret society of sexy Filipina Amazons in the jungles of South Asia.
Also, if Matthew retrieved the Spear from it’s ancient resting place half an hour outside of Los Angeles (how the hell did it get there?), then traveled back in time to that same location, isn’t the 1986 Spear of Longinus still in the temple? Maybe the Nazi bad guys should just use that one instead of the future Spear of Longinus.
Michelle and T2, whose name in this movie is actually Slade (and I mention this only because Robert Patrick and Richard Norton appear together in Equalizer 2000, where Norton’s character is named Slade — Santiago apparently has a fetish for the name) must find the elusive Professor Hightower, and doing so leads them to Hong Kong. I guess her big test wasn’t that important after all. Also, I guess she’s incredibly rich to be able to close up her crappy desert diner and fly to Hong Kong that same day. But then I expect no less from a naive young college girl who, for some inexplicable reason is able to outdrive, outfox, and outshoot the various trained killers sent after her. Robert Patrick spends most of the movie being believably beaten up, on the other hand. I hope you like the sight of him lying on his back with a dumb look on his face, because you’re going to get it a lot.
T2 has a friend who is a taxi driver in Hong Kong, but more importantly, he has a friend who is a taxi driver and is also Bruce Le, though as was his lot in life, he’s often miscredited as Bruce Li. Because a random taxi driver in Hong Kong will obviously be in tune with rumors surrounding missing anthropology professors from small American colleges, he informs our duo that Hightower’s last reported location was at the Forbidden Pagoda, a tourist attraction which no one is allowed to enter lest they incur the wrath of high kicking kungfu warrior Hwang Jang Lee, dressed like he just came from the set of the latest Seasonal Films production, or possibly from a kungfu film themed amusement park. When T2 tries to enter the pagoda, he gets whupped, which leads to a lengthy fight scene between Le and Hwang, complete with the sudden introduction of kungfu film sound effects. When the monk is finally dispatched — not via the fight, but because a sniper attempts to kill T2 and kills the monk instead — Le and T2 enter the pagoda, look around for for a few seconds, then testily proclaim, “Nothing!” Then they walk away. Shouldn’t they report the murder to the police or something? Worst tourist attraction in Hong Kong!
Oddly, this isn’t the first time Bruce Le has found himself randomly inserted into a film for a gratuitous if not unwelcome fight scene. A while back, I was wondering if Bollywood, always quick to exploit a trend, had ever produced any Bruce Lee exploitation films (films that cast someone with a similar name or haircut in an attempt to sucker people into thinking they’re going to see the real Bruce Lee). Eventually, I came across Katilon Ke Kaatil starring Dharmendra and featuring a scene were he randomly walks by Bruce Le — who hasn’t been in the film before and won’t appear again — and a fight breaks out. I mean, I assume that if Dharmendra and Bruce Le swagger by each other, a fight is going to break out, but it had nothing at all to do with the rest of the movie. I guess there was a period in the 1980s when directors in need of some extra action and running time could put in an order for Bruce Le, and they’d just ship him from Hong Kong in a wooden crate to wherever they needed him. Today, he remains in a huge warehouse full of crates like the one in Indiana Jones, stored alongside the likes of Sho Kosugi, patiently meditating until the day their services are once more required to save the world from the awakening of Cthulhu.
So having now seen exactly how the film suddenly becomes a kungfu film for ten minutes, it still doesn’t make any more sense than when I thought someone had mistakenly recorded Eagle vs. Silver Fox over part of Future Hunters. I mean, all that for absolutely no reason? I was about to swear that this whole film was assembled piecemeal out of other equally bad but less nonsensical films, but that isn’t the case. I mean, I saw Hwang Jang Lee and Robert Patrick in the same shot together, and this was before the world possessed the technology to digitally insert Robert Patrick into every movie ever made, which I assume we’re going to do.
And even though I knew it wasn’t the case, the rest of the movie caused the same feeling. Things get no less logical when Michelle and T2 follow the trail to South Asia with a band of Nazis hot on their trail. There, in the jungles, they encounter a tribe of stone-age midgets who aid them in their quest to recover the shaft of the spear, which is in a cave guarded by a city of scantily clad Amazons. And when one of these movies ends up in an Amazon city, you know you’re going to get at least one really awkwardly staged catfight. In the end, an earthquake happens for no reason, foam rocks bounce harmlessly off people who show up bloody and dead in the next shot, and Michelle randomly holds up the spear, causing all the midgets to cheer and the film to end.
Before we go much further, like talking about how the Spear doesn’t even do anything in the end, let’s discuss the career of one Cirio Santiago, the Roger Corman of The Philippines — though I suspect them of actually being the same man. Understanding a film like Future Hunters may be as impossible as understanding the full implications of quantum mechanics, but understanding a little about Santiago might help us at least grasp a film like this on some elementary, superficial level. Future Hunters and the many films like it bearing Santiago’s name are lasting monuments to nepotism. Santiago is the son of a studio founder, which might help explain how Santiago got his first jobs. And those jobs were as producer on a film called Cavalry Command in 1963 and as director of 1964′s Darna and the Tree Monster, an entry in a popular pulp superheroine adventure series.
It was in the 1970s, however, that Santiago really came into his own. Roger Corman, always on the prowl for ways to save money, hit upon The Philippines as the ideal location for many of his productions. The sprawling island-nation has long been and continues to be the stand-in for a variety of places populated by chubby guys with thick mustaches and Hawaiian shirts. It was the go-to place for any film set in Vietnam or Cambodia, at least until Thailand became a more viable option. Future Hunters is one of the few movies to actually attempt — and fail — to pass the streets of Manila off as downtown Los Angeles, but hey, you gotta respect the moxie. Corman most famously produced a series of sweaty, lesbian-filled women in prison films in The Philippines, and it’s probably around this time that he struck up his relationship with Cirio Santiago. Although he still produced and directed local fare during that time, Santiago became the go-to guy for American co-productions slumming it in Manila. He produced and/or directed a number of blaxploitation films throughout the 70s, and in the 80s he split his time between cheapjack action films — mostly set in Vietnam — and cheapjack post apocalypse scifi, almost all of which got distributed by one Roger Corman company or another in the United States, much to the delight and puzzlement of people like me who prowled video store shelves in search of anything with a title like Machete Maidens of Mora Tao.
Future Hunters may be his crowning achievement, a film of such stunning incompetence, with such total disregard for making even the least bit of sense, that one can hardly process it. Seriously, by the time ancient Mongol horsemen attack the 1986 Nazi camp in The Philippines, you’re not even going to care any more. This film contains more individual movies and genres than most Bollywood films. All it lacks is a song and dance number, but what it lacks in terms of item numbers by Helen it more than makes up for with shots of young Robert Patrick lying spread eagle on a bed in his tighty whities. By the time we got to the end and realized that the Spear of Longinus serves no purpose whatsoever, all I was capable of doing was lying in the corner, giggling uncontrollably and scrawling esoteric runes from floor to ceiling on every wall in my padded cell.
Seriously, what the hell were we thinking in the 1980s? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy that amazingly freakish crap like this got made, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wonder how the hell it happened. Cirio Santiago has, in his career, flirted with competence; Future Warriors doesn’t even flirt with coherence. This film simply shouldn’t be, and like I said, even though the footage is original, it feels like the entire movie was pasted together out of other shot-in-The-Philippines movies. Both the Amazons and the midget tribe ideas would return in Warriors of the Apocalypse, directed by Bobby Suarez, who on some days I would swear is just the third part of the unholy trinity formed along with Corman and Santiago. Richard Norton driving around in the post-apocalyptic wasteland would show up again in Santiago’s own Equalizer 2000.
But perhaps weirdest of all is that a few years after this, Robert Patrick would appear in another “time travelin’ to save the future” movie, albeit one with a considerably larger profile. I can only assume that young James Cameron was sitting around one day and, much like me, popped a copy of Future Hunters into the VCR and, mere minutes later, thought to himself, “I have to get this guy to be the terminator in my next movie!” But as the guy who plays the king of the caveman midgets wasn’t available, Cameron did the next best thing and cast the annoying redneck prone to lying around in his man panties as an unstoppable killing machine from the future.
Patrick’s performance, like that of his co-star Linda Carol, consists entirely of plaintive whining. “We have to protect the spear!” “Aww, dang, Ah don’ wanna protect tha spear!” “Oh come on! Help me protect the spear!” After spending a few minutes with them, nuclear apocalypse is suddenly looking like the preferable choice. When watching the endless banter, when watching him get beat up by Hwang Jang Lee, when watching the T2000 buffalo shots, remember that this guy somehow, despite being in Future Hunters, went on to star in not one, but two of the hugest franchises of all time, although one of those came after the characters people actually gave a damn about had already left the show.
Patrick’s performance, like that of his co-star Linda Carol, consists entirely of plaintive whining. “We have to protect the spear!” “Aww, dang, Ah don’ wanna protect tha spear!” “Oh come on! Help me protect the spear!” After spending a few minutes with them, nuclear apocalypse is suddenly looking like the preferable choice. When watching the endless banter, when watching him get beat up by Hwang Jang Lee, when watching the T2000 buffalo shots, remember that this guy somehow, despite being in Future Hunters, went on to star in not one, but two of the hugest franchises of all time, although one of those came after the characters people actually gave a damn about had already left the show.
Still, the rest of the cast wasn’t nearly as lucky. Well, except for Hwang and Le, but I’m pretty sure they’re only in this movie because Cirio accidentally stumbled onto the set of a film they were already filming and decided to work it into his own movie. I mean, you never really need an excuse to pad your film with a fight scene between Hwang Jang Lee and Bruce Le.
Linda Carol had a smattering of film and television appearances of little consequence, the highest profile of which was the women in prison spoof Reform School Girls. Everyone in that movie had the misfortune of having to compete with half naked Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics as she howled like a banshee and rode a school bus to hell. Everyone else had solid careers in TV shows you only pretend to like but never actually watched (I don’t care what they say on VH1 specials or what the camp appeal of William Shatner may be; you did not watch T.J. Hooker) and films like Bloodfist VI, but they must all be watching Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 and thinking, “Holy shit, I once hit that guy with a floor lamp while he was in his underwear.”
And Aussie ass-kicker Richard Norton, it goes without saying, is awesome, even though almost everything he’s ever made stinks to high heaven.
Of course, the end of the day means admitting that the individual pieces of this film are far more entertaining than the whole. For every minute we spend with bikini clad Amazons and warrior midgets, we spend twice as much time with Slade and Michelle as they bicker with each other. Still, this movie is just weird enough to make it fascinating so long as you are a viewer possessed of some high degree of constitution. It’s no Roller Blade, but where else are you going to get a movie where a guy time travels back to 1986 to give the spear of destiny to Terminator 2 so he can show it to Bruce Le while running from Nazis who get attacked by Genghis Khan’s hordes while they are surrounded by caveman midgets and Filipina Amazons? I’m a sucker for movies like this, and Future Hunters won me over. If Fantasy Mission Force has a kindred spirit, this film is it.
Oh, and what ever became of ol’ Cirio Santiago you may ask? Well, in 1995 he was appointed by none other than Filipino President Fidel Ramos as head of the Philippines Film Development Fund. The Fund’s purpose?
“To improve the quality of Filipino films.”
Review from the Monsterhunter website:
For 20 minutes, Future Hunters is the greatest movie ever made. With its Richard Norton leatherpocalypse scenes of non-stop Mad Max-style cars racing around desolate rock and sand covered terrain and its violent shoot outs complete with exploding vehicles, it was like someone took Equalizer 2000 and Raiders Of The Sun and compressed them into a highly concentrated speedball of sneering and sweating ultra-manly aggression. It probably makes sense that that someone was director Cirio H. Santiago who also teamed up with Richard Norton and Rich’s leather pants to bring us Equalizer 2000 (in the same year no less!) and Raiders Of The Sun!
The opening narration lets us know exactly what sort of post-apocalypse we are in for which I’m always in favor of because it’s so much quicker to just tell me why Rich has jumped off a two story tower into his leather pants than to show me with a bunch of boring set up scenes of the world going into the crapper. (It’s all probably going to be a montage of stock disaster footage and bad models getting blown up anyway.)
I don’t even remember what the specifics were this time around beyond the fact that Rich was the last guy left that was trying to recover the Spear of Longinus in an effort to somehow reverse the holocaust that had occurred several decades prior. (For all you liberals and other atheists out there, the Spear of Longinus is the spear that Jesus was stabbed with.)
To give you an idea of the perfectness of these opening scenes, you have to understand a little about Equalizer 2000. That movie was built around Rich’s love affair with a mega-gun called the Equalizer 2000. It was souped up and could shoot explosive shells among other things. It was pretty sweet, but it kept getting stolen and it seemed to have a horrible time finding its mark because Rich was fighting the same guys for well over an hour before really making a dent in them with the E2K.
In Future Hunters though, Rich is equipped with a gun that frankly surpasses the E2K. This one has the capacity to blast everything like the E2K, but you can also load it with exploding arrows just like Rambo used!
Condensed though things are, the first 20 minutes mimics the plot of a full-sized post-apocalyptic flick by having Rich get captured, escape, and miraculously run right into the temple where the spear is hidden!
But the bad guys aren’t exactly giving up! They’re going after Rich, but because Future Hunters isn’t just about raising the bar for this sort of thing, but is all about chucking it into the stratosphere, they don’t send a wave of thugs in after him. They just start blasting away at him with tanks!
Oh Spear of Longinus! Please use your mysterious, unexplained, and all around nonsensical superpowers to deliver Rich from this awesomely explosive evil!
And it does! It sends Rich straight on back in time, right back into the 1980s, leather pants and vest and all!
And as luck would have it (for the audience!), he stumbles out of the temple and smack dab into a biker gang trying to rape a woman!
Rich beats them up, gets shot, and stabs a guy with the Spear of Longinus (he turns to ash!) and before dying in the car of the woman and her boyfriend, delivers enough plot points to keep them going for the next extraordinarily painful (and Richard Norton free) 75 minutes!
The rest of the movie is stupidly boring though Cirio was pulling out all the stops to try to make up for pulling the old switcheroo on us with his abandonment of the Richard Norton future world for the Robert Patrick and ugly girlfriend current world.
There’s some self-styled Nazis after the Spear and if they get their hands on it, the world will end for some reason and cause Richard Norton’s world to become a reality, but if Robert and his old lady can stop them, I guess we get to keep our old, boring, crappy world where cars don’t have spikes welded to the hoods.
The movie from here on out is a series of unexplained coincidences and plot holes that have the good guys and bad guys encountering each other and losing the head of the spear to each other with a tedious regularity. Even the characters seemed to be deliberately doing stuff to make sure action occurred no matter how pointless.
How else to explain that the head Nazi didn’t kill the good guys right away, but waited until he was in his helicopter to fire missiles at his own compound where the good guys were trying to escape? Or that the bad guys left a fueled up second helicopter with a flight plan right there for the good guys to steal and fly after them? Or that the bad guys then left a bomb on the second helicopter just in case the good guys steal it and fly after them? Or that the bad guys use the radio to warn/taunt the good guys that there’s a bomb on board and the bad guys are just about to set it off which gives the good guys time to jump out into the ocean and escape again?
You’ve also got a kung fu scene that didn’t have anything to do with anything which involved a friend of Robert Patrick he knew in Hong Kong. This guy was fighting against one of those white haired kung fu masters and I suppose it was memorable for when Robert’s friend pulled some nunchucks out of his sock.
There was also a tribe of Filipino midgets Robert and his lady had to help out against another tribe which went on forever and amounted to nothing.
This was one time I was rooting for the “shock” ending where somehow Richard Norton’s ruined future happened anyway and we’d get to see him killing stuff as the credits rolled. Instead it ended with Robert’s girlfriend holding the spear up in the air while wearing a goofy smile as Robert Patrick and his midget buddies looked on appreciatively.
If you insist on post-apocalypse Filipino midget action, I recommend watching Equalizer 2000 and then playing the first part of this movie like it was the epilogue to Equalizer 2000 and then shut it all down and fire up Raiders Of The Sun.
David Knight's review from the Firefox News website:
Future Hunters begins appropriately enough in the future, the year 2025 "almost 40 years since the Great Holocaust" where we are told that a group of rebels has stood against an evil Lord Zaar until one last rebel remains, Matthew (Richard Norton) who is the last hope of civilization. His quest is to find the spear of Longinus that is said to be so powerful it could turn back time. It was of course the spear of a Roman soldier who used it to pierce the side of Christ. This is no religious tract however, the use of the artifact though, and the film has no real agenda other than a mystical object to quest for. After all, Indiana Jones had his ‘Lost Ark’ so it was almost a given requirement at the time of pulp-style, serial-style, B-movies that a religious artifact had to be the treasure sought.
As for the SF/ Fantasy/ pop-culture at the time of the film’s release, the legend of Longinus’ spear was most famously used in the 1980s as part of author Barry Sadler’s Casca: The Eternal Mercenary series of books, which featured a character called Casca Longinus as that Roman soldier, doomed to wander immortal only until the return of Jesus. Sadler’s premise of course, opposed the anti-Semitic lore of the past that had long claimed there was a ‘wandering Jew’ awaiting the return. Fans of DC Comics may recall that ‘The Spear Of Destiny’ played a prominent role in The Last Days Of The Justice Society published in 1985 (I can still remember reading both those series concurrently). Historically speaking, there was also popular thought among some of the more esoteric elements of Nazi Germany that it existed and if found would be an important tool in their Reich. These things are useful to know as the film progresses.
There is a lot of action crammed into a fairly short time dealing with the post-apocalyptic future. The feel is more Mad Max (1979), than it is Road Warrior (1981) or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) and it looks a bit better than Warriors of The Wasteland (1983). We see Matthew tearing up the roadway pursued by others in cars, bikes, and even tanks. There is a capture, an escape, a faked death ruse, accompanied by plenty of gunfire and pyro.
After his escape, Matthew is apparently cornered in the ruins of an old temple. But it was there he had intended to get to. He picks up the spearhead from an imbedded resting place in what looks like a weathered Roman funerary relief. And then we get a fairly innocuous credit sequence.
The next sequence takes place at the ruins, but in the year 1986. We meet the film’s two leads characters, Michelle (Linda Carol), and her ex-marine boyfriend, Slade (Robert Patrick. She is an anthropology student who is at the ruins as part of her studies. Slade is frustrated with her because she is in school and running a restaurant when she had inherited a lot of money that could free them from their drudgery. As they leave, Matthew wakes up in a dark corner of the ruins.
Outside the ruins, Michelle is attacked by a wandering biker gang that thought she was easy pickings for their entertainment. Slade is overpowered and knocked out. While the gang is attempting to gang rape Michelle who is a fair hellcat in her defense, Matthew stumbles out of the ruins into a meeting with a bunch that looks like most of his adversaries from his own time. He takes them all on and wins. One of them has his back cracked over Mathew’s knee in the relatively short fight. Matthew is mortally wounded, but ne of the opponents that he takes down is stabbed with the spearhead and he disappears like Christopher Lee’s Dracula in an old Hammer film. It establishes the deadly force of the religious artefact to evil doers as had the final action sequence of Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) established the deadly power of the Ark against evil doers. This is all part of the sub-genre expectations.
As they race towards the city, Matthew tells them his story, that the spear must be rejoined with the shaft to avert the holocaust to come. He warns them to beware though for evil forces will be already seeking them out. He doesn’t make it, and Slade believe he was crazy as apparently did as well. But not Michelle: she researches ‘The Spear of Destiny" and she believes Matthew’s dying words.
A hulking, Aryan looking, almost Albino looking, giant of a man in a high end white suit shows up at her restaurant accompanied by his goons. They are looking for the spear head, and I can only guess that the organization they are members of has access to police arrest reports on short notice, because that is the only way they could have known. This won’t be the first time they are pursued by a party with no explanation as to how they were found. It could subtly suggest they have a supernatural source of information, or perhaps it is merely an explanation nobody thought was needed clarified in order to get to the next scene.
After a chance escape they flee to a nearby university to see a Professor Hightower, as that was a name mentioned by Matthew. They find he is not there and his colleague who is there, Fielding, wanted them to trust him and leave the spear with him because Hightower was somewhere in Asia, possibly Hong Kong. They leave determined to speak only with Hightower about the artefact. And when they are fired upon in a car chase on the road out, Slade reluctantly agrees to go to Hong Kong with Michele.
At the airport they are met by Slade’s old friend Liu (conveniently, plot-wise) who is played by Bruce Le. The credit sequence however, lists Bruce Li. They are two different names/actors, although both of them did have careers built on marketed likenesses to the great Bruce Lee after his passing. I am sure this one is Bruce Le. I have seen his Shaolin Fists Of Fury (1987) many, many times: it is Le at his best and most deserving of genre fan respect.
Liu tells Slade and Michele that the last known location he was able to find on Hightower was "The Forbidden Pagoda Of The Silver Fox" and that he and Slade could check it out. He warns Slade that it is said The Silver Fox guards the pagoda with his life.
Slade and Liu find no obvious clues at the pagoda when they are confronted by The Silver Fox himself. Martial arts fans will recognize that The Silver Fox is played by Hwang Jang Lee, who had played the character in a number of classic and not-so classic martial arts films. Slade is not interested in leaving and it may be unintended, but seeing Robert Patrick standing up to Hwang Jang Lee and being quickly trounced is a riot. Clearly his character hadn’t seen Secret Rivals (1976) or Snake in The Eagle’s Shadow (1978)!
Liu steps in to save his buddy, and the fight between Bruce Le and Hwang Jang Lee, The Silver Fox is really a standout of the whole film, absolutely the best one-on-one fight of any characters in Future Hunters.
They fight hand to hand, with Bruce Le showing good form, and not so much the Bruce Lee mannerisms that characterized most of his work of the ten years preceding. Some of Le’s posture between feigns and attacks seem more like Alexander Lo Rei actually, than Bruce Lee. He gets a few basic kicks in, and The Silver Fox doesn’t faze much. The Silver Fox puts some boot in mostly as a series of feigns, before the slow motion starts in as he puts in a one-two-three series of kicks to Le’s chest and shoulders. This is a done-in-one shot too: no camera tricks of any kind. It deserved the slow motion exposition.
When The Silver Fox crouches down, and grasps a staff that had been hidden out of shot, he goes after Le again, but there is clearly an edit when Le avoids the initial attack. He rolls away and then retrieves nunchuku that he had hidden in the foreleg of his pants. The limitations of the nunchaku as an offensive weapon against the reach of the staff, is briefly on display, just as its effectiveness as a defensive weapon is clear. The only reason Le is able to disarm Silver Fox of the staff is because the script said so, as the fight choreography leading up to it did not allow for that to occur.
Le discards the staff and it is then his nunchaku versus the unarmed Silver Fox. The Silver Fox is believably quick to disarm Le of the nunchaku with a left then a right kick. In addition to the above average reach of his legs in his kicking skills of renown, he shows that two kicks are better than one for the need. Had he immediately kicked right only, in order to disarm Le’s left hand of the nunchaku, its defensive strengths would have likely won out. By kicking left and then right, it appears that he allowed his left kick to be essentially a distracting graze which drew Le’s attention from the real intent, right kick to target left hand.
Silver Fox’s last move is a leap that lets him kick Le in the back of the neck and shoulders as he kicks his left right into Robert Patrick as he picks himself up. We aren’t allowed to see a definite winner or loser to the fight as an assassin’s bullet meant for Slade takes out The Silver Fox in mid-form. Slade asks Liu where he learned to fight like that, and Liu says, smiling, "My grandfather taught me. He was a Shaolin monk."
They flee back to the hotel barely in time to stop a half-stripped Michele from torture by more villains (this time, Chinese) also seeking the spear head. They roust them, but keep one to beat information out of. They then learn that Hightower was last known to them to be in the Venus Valley, a land where resides an Amazon tribe. This is apparently somewhere in Manila.
Their journey then leads Slade and Michele to cross paths with a bunch of neo-Nazis. They of course have an ideology sprung form the Third Reich, and equally have the same esoteric interests in supernatural artefacts, especially ‘The Spear Of Destiny’.
With some of the fights that follow it looks like Patrick as an actor, with his physical presence in the fight sequences is such that he had the stuff that action heroes are made of, and should have done well in that type of casting. It likely never came to pass because action cinema at the time wasn’t looking for an All-American action hero type as much as it was interested in bulked-up wrestler/ muscle builder type action film leads. He comes off like a lithe and slimmer John Cena but with more convincing acting.
The Neo-Nazis are the main pursuers of the story, but along the way they are coerced by some ‘little people’ living in the side of a mountain to help them fight off raiding Mongol hordes (that look right out of an historical epic). Their assistance gives them the next location on their quest. Obviously, when they find the Amazon tribe it becomes Michele’s show. The tribe would obviously see her as the only one they need deal with, if she proves worthy.
Ursula Marquez plays the Amazon Queen, and Elizabeth Oropesa plays her champion warrior. The Amazon Queen will provide them with information they need, but only if Michele wins in a fight to the death with her champion warrior, and in the event she loses Slade’s life is on the line. The women fight on a log surrounded by a ring of fire, with crocodiles below. They fight with primitive swords. There is some genuinely good fight choreography along with a few "courtesy" shots during their fight.
There are a few ‘final reel’ surprises before their quest is achieved and Michele gets to pose statuesque like the warrior-queen of the Celts, Boudicca. This a great b-movie, an R-Rated 12 chapter serial condensed into one film, with the non-stop action and often preposterous plot twists that characterized those old serials. It has a lot of similar raw elements of Jimmy Wang Yu’s Fantasy Mission Force (1982), yet it plays a bit more coherently: I hesitate to say more believably!
J. Lee Thompson wrote the script from a story by producer Anthony Maharaj. Thompson is old enough to remember the days of the matinee chapter serials, and it is clear one or both of them intentionally structured the story after their story conventions of impossible cliff-hanger captures and escapes, and plot left turns all the way to end.
Thompson wrote the Charles Bronson film 10 to Midnight, in addition to directing a whole slew of Bronson’s films -- St. Ives, The White Buffalo, (the under-rated Casablanca homage) Cabo Blanco, 10 to Midnight, The Evil That Men Do, Murphy’s Law, (the very uneven) Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Messenger of Death, and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects. In the 60s he directed full fledged classics The Guns Of Navarone, Cape Fear, and MacKenna’s Gold. In the 70s he directed the franchise sequels, Conquest of The Planet of The Apes and Battle For The Planet of The Apes. In addition to his solid work on the Bronson pictures though he took a few left turns in the 80s to make the awful camp King Solomon’s Mines, and the not much better Chuck Norris film, Firewalker.
Robert Patrick is now most famous for his villainous role in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and his fill-in seasons on the Chris Carter series X-Files while the series’ original male lead David Duchovny was absent. He also starred in Hong Kong 97 (1994). His most recent role of note was on the CBS television series The Unit.
Linda Carol appeared in many low-budget films and direct-to-video features, but she may be most widely recognized for her role as Jenny opposite Sybil Danning, and the Plasmatics’ lead singer Wendy O. Williams in Reform School Girls (1986).
Bruce Le was one of many actors/martial artists trotted out to feed the kung fu film fan desire for Bruce Lee films that could never be made after his passing. While many of the films were successful they were often cheap cash-ins. By far his best film, and the one I feel most confident in urging people to check out would be Shaolin Fists Of Fury aka Ninja Over The Great Wall (1987).
Richard Norton has had bigger roles in many films over the years. He played villains in the Jackie Chan films City Hunter (1993) and Mr. Nice Guy (1997). He was also in such films as Force: Five (1981), starred in Return of The Kickfighter (1987) with Bruce Le and director Anthony Maharaj and starred opposite Cynthia Rothrock in the China O’Brien movies (1990+91), and in her Rage And Honor movies (1992+93) as well. He started off small in big pictures of the genre with minor roles in the Chuck Norris films The Octagon (1980) and Forced Vengence (1982).
Hwang Jang Lee IS The Silver Fox.
The director, Cirio H. Santiago has a history in film equally as long as Thompson’s. He did films with Roger Corman. He broke some ground in the "Blaxplotation" era as well, for example directing the urban-samurai/Nam film Fighting Mad (1978), and directing Playboy Playmate Jeannie Bell’s starring turns in T.N.T. Jackson (1974) and in The Muthers (1976); directing Mad Max-type films Stryker (1983), and Dune Warriors with David Carradine (1991), Raiders Of The Sun also with Richard Norton (1992); Viet Nam themed films like Killer Instinct also with Robert Patrick(1987), Kill Zone with Carradine (1993); and martial arts films with Jerry Trimble, Live By The Fist (1993) and One Man Army (1994).
Nathan Shumate's review from the Cold Fusion Video website:
If you've watched many new direct-to-video movies (or, as the new term has it "D2DVD") in the past few years, you've noticed just how many unimpressive movies there are cobbled together from old stock footage, with minor "original" bits to tie it all together. (Such movies show up with appalling regularity at Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension.)
How does that relate to today's movie under discussion, dating as it does to 1985? Well, the good news is that as far as I can tell, every inch of footage was shot original to this motion picture.
The script, though, is just as Frankensteined together as anything currently besmirching the new-release wall.
I think I can even discern which borrowed elements were used to make the initial pitch: "It's part Terminator, part Raiders of the Lost Ark!" But that doesn't even begin to do justice to this hack job, which also manages to incorporate The Maltese Falcon, Romancing the Stone, The Road Warrior, any of several hundred interchangeable kung fu movies, every "lost world of Amazons" movie ever made, and maybe even For Your Height Only.
Oh, and it sucks, too.
As a voiceover narration helpfully informs us, we begin in 2025, almost forty years after the world falls down and goes boom. There's one man, Matthew, who is trying to find the legendary Spear of Longinus, the fabled implement which pierced Christ's side and thus gained phenomenal (though vague) powers, one of which is to travel through time. Matthew is trying to go back forty years and keep the holocaust from happening. Yes, all of this information (and more!) is contained in the narration; why bother with that namby "visual storytelling" when you can just unload efficient exposition?
And yup, there's Matthew (Richard Norton) himself, driving a MadMaxMobile across an arid landscape, pursued by two more such contraptions. As usual, gasoline doesn't seem to be in short supply; neither do the rounds which Matthew's pursuers expend in automatic weapons fire. But Matthew outranks them there -- they've got machine guns, but he's got a grenade launcher!
Unfortunately, Matthew is himself outgunned by the warlord Zaar (David Light), who has a number of tanks at his disposal. Matthew is captured and dragged to a bad matte painting of a fortress, escapes, runs next door to the mission-style church (which everyone calls "the temple") and, lo and behold, this is where Tsar is keeping the spear! How convenient!
I should note that at least someone did some research. I read a book a few years back that purportedly told the true story of the spear of Longinus (though, naturally, it was also vague on what the spear could actually do apart from poking crucified messiahs), and the prop they use here does look like the picture in the book. Well, except for the animated-in glow that pulses through it when Matthew picks it up. I'm hoping that really mystically-charged artifacts have better special effects. Oh, and although everyone calls it the "spear," it's actually just the spearhead -- it's a lot easier to run around with a desperately-sought artifact when it isn't seven feet long.
Anyway. Tsar orders his tanks to fire on the temple rather than let Matthew get it. Everything explodes...
...And we roll opening credits and cut to 1986. The back of the video says 1989, but that's easy enough to explain -- the movie was made in 1985, but couldn't find anyone desperate/stupid enough to distribute it for four more years.
So. 1986, same church out in the desert, though it doesn't look much better for wear than it does in forty years. In fact, the entire landscape is just as arid and deserted as it is in the future. Are you sure there was a nuclear apocalypse? (The matte painting is notably absent, though.) A young couple is exploring the abandoned church. Actually, only Michelle (Linda Carol) is exploring it, because she wants to be an anthropologist in addition to a cafe owner because her dad died and all he left her was a bunch of money. Her boyfriend Slade (Robert Patrick) is just hanging around, waiting for her to be done; in addition, he helpfully gives us the chunk of Michelle's backstory above through some exceptionally clumsy dialogue. (Well, exceptional compared to most movies, not to what follows in this one.)
As they get ready to leave, a small biker gang (ganglet?) rides up and proceeds to molest them, because there's nothing bikers like better than checking in on small abandoned churches in the desert to see if there's anyone there to rape. They kick the tar out of Slade, and are about ready to take turns with Michelle, when Matthew wakes up inside the church with the spear in his hand -- he's been blown backward in time! He comes out of the church and makes short work of the bikers (one of them melts into ash when stabbed with the spearhead), but takes a bullet in a vital organ.
Michelle and Slade try to get him to a hospital, but he gives them the spear and a short, nonsensical description of it and its powers before he expires in their backseat. His last words are to find someone named "Hightower" who knows all about the spear's power and destiny. (That, and the fact that he didn't know what they meant when they said they were "outside L.A." I can understand his confusion -- I mean, is Los Angeles supposed to look so much like the Philippines?)
Slade's one of those "don't get involved" people, and wants Michelle to forget all about it after they ditch the corpse with the police, but he didn't see someone melt to ash like she did. Plus, I guess he doesn't have the soul of a wanna-be great anthropologist. No, he's just a cropduster mechanic. (Gee, wonder if that will come in handy later.) And she's not the only one who thinks the spear might be important; while they're cleaning up the cafe, a trio of standard-issue heavies come in, demand the spearhead, and demonstrate that they really don't know how to wreck a restaurant very well. They then leave because... um... customers are coming. (Curses! In a cafe, of all places! Foiled again!)
Michelle finds Professor Hightower's work in the library; he's one of the foremost experts on the spear of Longinus, and wouldn't you know it, he's a member of the faculty right here at the local university. (In, L.A., I mean. Where this is taking place. Not in the Philippines, where of course this is not taking place.) Unfortunately, Hightower has disappeared somewhere around Hong Kong on one of his expeditions, according to Professor Fielding (Ed Crick), who offers to take the spear off her hands. When she refuses, he then offers to put Hightower in touch with her as soon as he resurfaces, and she gives him her address. (Let's see -- you want the professor to contact you, and you know that bad guys are trying to take the spear by force; wouldn't leaving your phone number be more appropriate? On the other hand, the bad guys seemed to intuit who she was and where she ran her cafe,so...)
Well, more bad guys pursue them down a lonely street (in L.A., dammit, not the Philippines, despite the jungle encroaching on the shoulder of the road!), and only her defensive driving skills keep them alive. She and Slade decide that the most sensible thing to do would be to fly to Hong Kong and try to find Hightower. After all, there are only six million people in the city, all speaking a language they don't know; how hard could it be?
Plus, they do have an advantage: Slade has a friend in Hong Kong. What's more, he drives a taxi (and who better to track someone down than a taxi driver?). And what's even more, he's Bruce Li! That's quite the ace in the hole, especially when (after driving around pointing at the tall buildings -- these three minutes brought to you by the Hong Kong Tourism Commission) Slade and Li take a trip to the Forbidden Pagoda of the Silver Fox, where Hightower was rumored to have been. Well, they don't find Hightower, but they do find an old kung fu master who cops a "Which part of 'forbidden' don't you understand?" attitude and wipes the floor with Slade.
But -- did I mention? Slade's friend is Bruce Li! Which means that for the next ten minutes, we're going to forget about the plot and watch Li and the kung fu master whup on each other. Hey, we've even got those exaggerated hand-to-hand sound effects that were notably absent when the master beat up Slade.
It seems like the bout will go on forever -- it certainly tries to -- but it's mercifully cut short when a mysterious sniper shoots the kung fu master, although he apparently meant to plug Slade. Slade and Li make a half-hearted effort to find the sniper, but get sidetracked into looking around the pagoda for signs of Hightower. But after ten seconds of diligent searching and finding no obvious graffiti on the walls that says "Hightower was here but went thataway," they shrug their shoulders and trot on their merry way. (They also find no one else taking care of the pagoda. I guess one kung fu master per historic landmark is sufficient.)
They get back to the hotel just in time to catch Michelle once more entertaining thugs (but this time, it's Asian thugs) who're on the trail of the spear. More fighting ensues (man, they oughtta bottle that Bruce Li and sell him in corner stores), and the thug leader spills the beans about Hightower being somewhere in -- the Philippines! Boy, I thought we'd never get there! And extra weirdness: Hightower is supposed to be looking for the fabled Venus Valley, an Amazon-inhabited lost world somewhere in southeast Asia where the shaft of the spear is hidden; the spear and the shaft have to be brought together to have any power (excepting, one assumes, that whole "travelling through time" thing, and that "turning the impaled to ash" thing).
So. Over to exotic Manila we go, where Slade and Michelle ooh and ah some more at the buildings (these three minutes brought to you by the Philippine Tourism Commission). But there's a mysterious someone who's waiting for them -- an evil, nefarious white supremacist who wants the spear to rid the world of all the inferior races, even if it takes a nuclear cleansing! We don't see his face right off, but that's okay; he's got the most overacting hands I've ever seen, which makes up for it. And really -- given that there are absolutely NO other characters it could possible be (unless you think it's Bruce Li), I'll just clue you in: It's Professor Fielding, the guy from the university who offered to relieve Michelle of the spear. And let's just think about this: a), how can someone on an academic's salary afford a foreign villa, plus all the equipment for his neo-Nazi army? and b) would a white supremacist be really happy with his secret hideout in the Philippines, surrounded by, you know, all those brown people (quite a few of whom are among his footsoldiers)?
Fielding's goons try to nab Slade and Michelle at the hotel; many luggage carts and potted plants figure in the ensuing chase, as you can well imagine. The goons grab Michelle, and Slade follows in a convenient vehicle. Check this: Apparently the international date line runs right through the Philippines, because mid-pursuit it changes from the pitch-black night to the middle of the day. Slade, ex-Marine that he is, fights his way through Nazi fodder to the inner room where Fielding and his chief goon loom over Michelle and the much-sought Professor Hightower (Paul Holmes), the latter manacled to the wall. Fielding triumphantly pulls the spear from Michelle's shoulder bag, and... they leave. Kill the captives here and now? Nah -- not when he can fire rockets at his own villa from a helicopter to kill them, right? But Slade and Michelle had enough time to escape the villa first (Hightower, not so much), and gee, wouldn't you know it, there's a second chopper right there, ready to go. Heck, an extra copy of Fielding's flight plans to the Venus Valley are sitting right there on the seat.
You know, it's one thing for a movie not even to try. It's another when it proudly displays the fact, practically walking up to you, slapping you in the face, and proclaiming, "We're not even trying!"
But this chase doesn't get very far, because Fielding has a remote explosive wired to his second chopper. But he waits long enough before pushing the button that Slade and Michelle can jump to safety in the water. And it's only a minor delay; on land, Slade immediately finds a small aircraft hangar and steals a single-prop plane. And of course, he's got the flight plan memorized, so off they go after Fielding again. But now there's no place to land near the right coordinates, and they're almost out of fuel, so they have to bail out again (using a parachute this time) while the plane crashes.
We'll cut short their bickering "banter" in the jungle; suffice it to say that, for the first time since I originally saw Romancing the Stone, I really wished I were watching it again instead. But that's all cut short when they stumble, yes, right into the Nazi camp and into Fielding's clutches. Michelle's again almost about to be given the "rough love" treatment by one of the Nazis (boy, does she ever attract Mr. Wrong) when the camp is attacked...
Even just reliving the scene as I write about it makes me want to poke at my cerebral cortex with a straight pin until I skewer that specific memory. Why are there Mongols on horseback, with swords and primitive firearms, inhabiting a Philippine jungle? Not only is there no answer, no one even acts like it's a question.
Cue really boring battle between Nazis and Mongols as a lot of extras we've never seen before get killed. Ten minutes later, when the smoke clears, Slade and Michelle have once again escaped into the jungle with the spear. And there, they meet...
Okay, let me preface this. I'm thinking that the original intention was to get this movie into drive-ins, and the assumption was that by this time, just about everyone there would be making out and paying no attention to the screen. (After all, who wouldn't be turned on by all the "jungle bickering" bits? Not to mention all of the "Michelle almost gets gangraped yet again" scenes.) And you know, if I were at the drive-in for this flick, I'd neck with just about anything to distract me from the feature. But you really have to feel bad for anyone who was getting hot'n'heavy, happened to glance up at the screen, and saw...
Seriously. It's like they hired every midget, dwarf, and other variety of little person in the Philippines (plus a few children thrown in to fill out their numbers) to wrap themselves in burlap and meet Slade and Michelle in the jungle. They're a friendly sort, but they've been having awful trouble with the Mongols, so they make a deal with Slade and Michelle: You help us defeat the Mongols, we'll show you where the Venus Valley is. (You know, where the spear's shaft is. That goes with the head of the spear of Longinus. That Matthew brought back from the future. I thought you'd appreciate the recap, since we've moved so far away from the initial premise that the opening scenes must seem like a distant memory.)
And now? Now a full fifteen-minute digression as Slade, Michelle, and the Mighty Munchkins sneak up on the Mongol camp and attack. Here are some things you may not know about Mongols: Their camps are liberally decorated with oil drums. And they buy modern chemicals in plastic containers to mix their own gunpowder for their primitive firearms. Oh, and despite their reputation as ruthless warriors, they can be easily taken on their hometurf by a dozen midgets and two whiny Americans.
Fifteen irreplaceable minutes of my life later, the Mongols are wiped out, and the cave-dwarfs cheerfully point the way to the Venus Valley. Of course, before they get that far... you guessed it. Right into the hands of the Nazis again. By this time, I was about ready to slip Fielding a Jackson to just kill them and be done with it, but no; before he can do anything decisive -- Amazon attack! (Filipino Amazon attack.) They kill a bunch of Nazis and take Slade and Michelle prisoner.
And when Michelle tells what they're looking for, the Head Amazon declares that the only way to earn the right to go up to the cave at the end of the valley is single combat. Not Slade; Michelle. Boy, that'd be a real nailbiter if we cared. As it is, despite the fact that the awkward Michelle is facing the Amazons' undefeated champion, it takes little time for her to knock her opponent into the crocodile pit and earn their passage.
And in the cave, they find... well, a stick. (What were you expecting?) Oh, and Fielding, showing up for his last-ditch attempt to get the whole spear-and-accessory set for himself. Slade and Fielding fight; Fielding gets killed with the spearhead. (Oh, irony... or something.) Naturally, the cave decides to collapse into huge styrofoam boulders, but Slade and Michelle are dug out by... the cavemidgets. ("Hey, we've paid for the whole troupe through Thursday -- maybe we should use them again!")
Michelle emerges into the sunlight, fits the spearhead to the shaft, holds it aloft, and... The end.
That's it? The spear doesn't DO anything?
Nope. Roll credits.
This pitiful excuse for a motion picture comes to us courtesy of Cirio H. Santiago, notorious hack director from the Corman stable who has quite possibly directed more forgettable post-apocalyptic movies than anyone before or since (with the possible exception of Albert Pyun). But even having seen several of Santiago's other movies, I still couldn't anticipate that he could put his hand to such an ill-conceived -- or unconceived -- project. It's a movie that surprises and horrifies you by hitting what you thought was bottom pretty early, then digging several sub-basements below that.
More horrifying is that the screenplay is by J.L. (aka "J. Lee") Thompson, director of the last two Planet of the Apes movies. Thank whatever you hold holy that, of all the filched crap that shows up in here, he didn't throw in any talking chimps.
And in retrospect, it's easy to see the best part of the movie: Richard Norton as Mad Max ripoff Matthew, waaaaay back there at the beginning. Sure, he's no master thespian, but his fight scenes were energetic and well-paced, looking natural and unchoreographed. I could have watched ninety minutes of meaningless post-apocalyptic combat of that caliber pretty easily, relatively speaking...
On the other hand, if Matthew hadn't brought the spear back in time, there's no reason to suppose that a world-cleansing freak like Fielding would have ever had a chance to get ahold of it... so the only thing making the apocalypse possible is the effort of the man trying to keep the apocalypse from happening.
Well, whaddaya know. This whole movie is even more useless and pointless than previously supposed.
Joe Bob Briggs' intro from his website:
I'm Joe Bob Briggs, and tonight on "MonsterVision" we've got one of the finest futuristic post-holocaust kung-fu road movies with sledgehammer-carrying midgets ever filmed in the Philippines. Of course, who else could I be talking about than the legendary Cirio Santiago, director of some 500 Filipino movies, and the total combined budget of those films has STILL not topped the hundred-dollar mark. One of the wonders of modern civilization.
But before we get to that, a lot of you may have noticed that young children frequently write in to "MonsterVision," even though this show comes on WAY past their bedtimes, and sometimes they're seeking advice from "Uncle Joe Bob." Since all of these children are criminals and liars who shouldn't be watching this show anyway, I felt like maybe I should do my part to influence their delicate young minds. Hence, a few tips from my own childhood.
First of all, your SISTER is always the enemy, guys. Never forget this. Your sister was placed in your family by God in order to be terrorized by you. Lemme give you an example. I used to say the following words to my own sister: "In exactly one minute, I'm going to copy everything you say." She would start SCREAMING at me. "No, you're NOT." I would just placidly look up at the second hand on the clock, inexorably sweeping closer and closer to the dreaded twelve.
Now. You're thinking, "So what? Unoriginal. Everyone has done the old 'I'm gonna copy you' torture." But here's the beauty of it. The BEST part is the minute BEFORE you start copying her. It's the WAITING A MINUTE to copy her that makes it so brutally perfect. She'll talk the whole minute. "I'm not gonna say anything." "If you copy me, I'll copy you." Just chuckle when she says this. Even if she goes to the ultimate threat: "I'll tell Mama!" You might want to respond to this one: "You'll tell Mama what? That I was exercising my Constitutional rights of free speech to copy you?"
Actually, my own sister tried to follow through on that threat. Most of my terror was carried out while I was the official family babysitter. So she would write notes to my mom. First I would say, "Well, your bedtime is before she gets home, so I'll just find the note and tear it up." This would require her to clutch it in her fist while falling asleep, or hide it under her pillow. But here's the best part. When she finally got the note to my mother, usually the next day, it would say something like "Joe Bob copied me." And you know what Moms do when they see a note like that? They say "Isn't that cute? We should save that note for our scrapbook."
Okay, more tips in the future as we expand our childhood audience of guys evading their bedtimes. But right now it's time for Robert Patrick, star of "Terminator 2," and his foxy girlfriend to run through the Filipino jungle fighting Nazis, Amazon warrior tribes, kung fu masters, white flesh-eating crocodiles, while searching for the sacred crystal Spear of Destiny. I'll do those drive-in totals at the first break. Roll film.
[fading] Also starring Bruce Li! Remember when Bruce Lee died, the Hong Kong filmmakers came up with all these other martial artists named Bruce. Bruce Lo, Bruce Lay, Bruce Law. Well, Bruce Li was one of the best. He's got a battle in here with Wang Chang Lee that's one of the funniest dang kung fu fight scenes I've ever witnessed. And I'm the guy who DISCOVERED "Mad Monkey Kung Fu" and introduced it to the west. Little known fact.
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Commercial Break #1
Nothing like the old crystal Spear of Longinus to break up a sexual assault by a biker gang that preys on female anthropologists. See, they trick you. You THINK it's gonna be a post-holocaust "Mad Max" sorta deal, then they switch to a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Spear of Longinus subplot, then they've got sweaty evil biker gangs screwing up the time-travel plot. I admit, I WAS a little confused there for a minute -- when we flashed back from 2025 to 1986, I thought maybe we were seeing Matthew when he was younger. But now I see they're two different guys. The one from 2025 is the great B-movie actor Richard Norton -- "Karate Cops," "Ironheart," "Rage and Honor," one AND two, of course. And the younger guy is Robert Patrick, otherwise known as the T-1000 from "Terminator 2," as I mentioned earlier. We'll talk more about him later--for now let's do those drive-in totals I promised. We have: Seventy dead bodies. Three motor vehicle chases, with five crash-and-burns. Hand-biting. Stabbing. Exploding helicopter. Exploding airplane. Exploding tent. Exploding Nazi. Spear to the back. Multiple spears to the chest. Candelabra to the head. One swordfight. Multiple Kung Fu. Suitcase Fu. Ex-Marine Fu. Midget Fu. Babes in fur bikinis, rassling over an alligator pit. Three and a half stars. Let us continue.
[fading] That Spear of Longinus is in the book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," by the way. A lot of guys ARE searching for it, and the BBC guys think they know where it is. The Masons have it or something. Longinus was the guy who pierced the side of Jesus, and the wooden spear he used to do that is called the Spear of Longinus, or the Spear of Destiny. It's the second most holy object sought by holy-object-seekers. After the holy grail itself. Did you follow that? The crystal thing, though. Cirio Santiago made that up, I think. I don't think the Roman soldiers had crystal spears. So to speak. I got your Spear of Destiny right HERE, man.
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Commercial Break #2
Whew! Good thing Michelle is wearing that bra and panties when she delivers those lines. That gal is a magnet for attempted sexual assaults, though, isn't she? We're only a half hour into this thing and she's already been attacked twice. Okay, meeting Robert Patrick and Linda Carol -- that's the actress's name -- wow! is that a producer's girlfriend name or WHAT? -- "Starring Linda Carol as the girl who couldn't say no" -- meeting Robert and Linda at the Hong Kong airport is Bruce Li. The great Bruce Li, star of many a Hong Kong kung fu picture. Hey, you know what just occurred to me about the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" ripoff aspect of this picture? They didn't wanna hire TWO actors in the Philippines, so Linda Carol is both the archeologist and the cafe owner--she plays the Harrison Ford part AND the Karen Allen part. And Robert Patrick is just the wimp along for the ride. Which we're gonna prove in this next section. Bruce Li and Wang Chang Lee engage in one of THE funniest, most imaginatively choreographed kung fu matches ever filmed -- it's really the highlight of this movie -- and Bobby just kinda stands around going "Uh, need any help?"
[fading] Robert Patrick has done a LOT of B movie stuff. Psycho biker in "Warlords from Hell." Psycho cowboy in "Equalizer 2000." Psycho terrorist in "Die Hard 2." Why does he always need "psycho" in front of his name? Wasn't he also in that Teri Hatcher movie that set all the records for internet downloads? What was that thing called? Robert Patrick, right? The man is everywhere.
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Commercial Break #3
I call that the "Land Shark" scene. "Telegram." Michelle has her sexy bathrobe on. SHOULD she answer? "Telegram." She won't open the door. Then they give her the line she just can't argue with. "You've got to sign for it." So she opens the door and sets off on yet ANOTHER attempted sexual assault. Okay, we're goin to Manila. Did I forget to mention that this flick was directed by Cirio Santiago? One THE most famous Filipino directors around. His father, Ciriaco Santiago, started Premiere Productions in Manila, which is still one of the biggest studios in the Philippines. Cirio runs it now. Cirio was one of the first guys to cast blacks as action heroes, so you could call him a pioneer of the Blaxploitation genre. Remember "T.N.T. Jackson" from 1975? That was Cirio Santiago. Then in the eighties he did a bunch of low-budget Vietnam war movies like "Firehawk." Made over twenty flicks with Roger Corman, although "Future Hunters" isn't one of em. In fact, a lot of pretty big directors started out working with Cirio Santiago -- he and Jonathan Demme co-produced a flick called "Hot Box" -- I'm sure you guys have all seen that. Then Demme went on to do "Silence of the Lambs." Carl Franklin, the guy who did "Devil in a Blue Dress" and "One False Move," he directed "Eye of the Eagle 2" for Cirio. I'll give you more of an overview of the Filipino cinema later. For now, let's do the ads and get back to the flick.
[fading] We all have our favorite Cirio Santiago film. "The Vampire Hookers," of course, is a classic. You might know it as "Ladies of the Night." "Nam Angels" from 1988. "She-Devils in Chains." It's no wonder the Filipino president made Cirio president of the Philippines Film Development Funds in 95. You guys know how much "The Vampire Hookers" made, compared to what it cost? Well . . . a lot, I'm sure. I should look that up sometime. Remember the poster for "Vampire Hookers"? "They tease, they squeeze, they're ready to please."
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Commercial Break #4
Don't you love it when the motor vehicle chase starts in the nighttime but ends up in broad daylight. That was a LONG mother of a chase, wasn't it? And you know that wherever you see a fruit stand in a chase scene, they're gonna bust over the fruit stand, right? But a fruit stand in the middle of the night? Do they HAVE that in the Philippines? Fresh prunes at 2 a.m.? Then we've got the machinegun fire in the lobby of the Manila Hilton, the old "let's leave our flight plan in the OTHER helicopter and maybe they'll try to fly the other helicopter and then we can blow it up by remote control" trick, and about five minutes back, was I hearing right? Did the Nazi professor stop the big guy from shooting the heroes by saying, "No, no! That would spoil our fun!"? I must not of heard that right.
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Commercial Break #5
Uh, did some Nazi soldiers just fight a battle with some samurai on horseback, preceded by an airplane crash and followed by a gunbattle on a rope bridge? Is that what I just watched? I thought so. And I can't believe they killed off Bauer, the Nazi bodyguard in the knee socks. He had a good look going. He was being true to his German roots. You guys ever been to Germany? Socks and sandals -- big look over there. Anyway, the bad guys had a great offensive strategy there on the footbridge, didn't they? "Hans, run out there and kill that couple on the bridge. No, no, don't shoot them -- HIT them with your gun. I don't CARE if they have ouzis! Just go! Okay, Hans is dead. Wolfgang! Go hit those people with your gun!" All right, we still got midgets and amazons comin up, so let's get back to the flick, after the ads.
[fading] Who were those guys on horseback, by the way? I have no idea. We just had a major battle, and I don't even know who those guys were. You know who they probly are? They represent nature, going against the evil forces of man gone bad. The horse being the classic image of rural life. That was the Ingmar Bergman part of the flick. I think Ingmar did the second unit work.
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Commercial Break #6
That Michelle, she's always falling out of her dress, isn't she? What a goofball. Is she still wearing her high heels in the jungle? I thought so. And that was the famous sledgehammer-wielding tribe of midgets against the Mongol horde saltpeter and nitrates lab sequence, complete with dynamite-stick hurling, chest-spearing, and, of course, plenty of crossbow action. Actually my favorite bit of violence was not any of that stuff. It was when the four midgets just jump on the guy and stomp him to death. All of which could only exist in the Filipino cinema! They shot part of this flick in Trinidad, and part of it right here in L.A., but a lot of it's shot in and around Manila. Filipinos love movies, and they make about 150 of their own every year, so they can be full of the stuff they like best: sex and violence, melodrama, toilet humor, fantasy, horror, and sex and violence. There are a handful of early guys who were serious filmmakers, like Lamberto Avellana, Manong Gerry de Leon, Manuel Conde, and Cirio Santiago himself, who used to do the occasional art film, but lately they haven't been too proud of their output. I'm not making a judgment, I say this because a little while ago, the Filipino government itself created a couple of organizations to improve things, like the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The trouble was, the Filipino audience LIKED the stuff that was being made. So you know what the government decided to do? Affect the demand -- CHANGE THE AUDIENCE. They started doing these traveling workshops in the provinces on how to watch films. They have marathon screenings of classic films: "Rashoman," "A Clockwork Orange," "The Bicycle Thief," -- 34 flicks in eight days -- with discussions afterwards. These people didn't need to WATCH "A Clockwork Orange" -- they were living it. Anyhow, these organizations are trying to teach the audience how to "read" films, that in order to appreciate Filipino movies, you have to watch out for the film's cultural subtext, blah blah blah. I'll teach you how to "read" a Filipino movie. You just go, "Hey! Two-hundred midgets with crossbows! Cool!" All right, best part, coming up after the commercials.
[fading] I have no idea why the midgets needed Robert Patrick and Linda Carol's help. They seemed to do pretty well on their own. I think they just wanted to keep em around in case Linda Carol's dress fell off completely. A sundress and white pumps -- not very practical for an anthropologist, is it? And after Labor Day, no less.
"FUTURE HUNTERS" Outro
And the Filipinos do know how to end a movie, don't they? An earthquake, an avalanche, a speared Nazi and a midget rescue. And, of course, you can't go wrong with catfighting Amazons in fur bikinis, dangling over the flesh-eating crocodile pit. That was Ursula Marquez as the amazon queen--"Future Hunters" was the first in a series of one movies for Ursula. A woman with two amazing talents, matched only by the two talents of Elizabeth Oropesa as the huntress. That alligator had one sumptuous snack.
Okay, I wanna let you know that next week we have an encore-performance of the classic "Planet of the Apes." Charlton Heston bares his bewtocks and kisses a monkey, not necessarily in that order, in the science fiction standard. If you missed it last time we showed it, do NOT repeat that mistake.
That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the light at the end of the tunnel just may be a muzzle flash.
You guys hear the one about the team of archaeologists who are excavating in Israel when they come upon a cave? Written on the wall of the cave are symbols of a woman, a donkey, a shovel, a fish, and a Star of David. The writings are determined to be at least three thousand years old. The piece of stone is removed, brought to the museum, and archaeologists from around the world come to study the ancient symbols. They hold a huge meeting after months of conferences to discuss the meaning of the markings. The President of the society points at the first drawing and says: "This looks like a woman. We can judge that this race was family-oriented and held women in high esteem. You can also tell they were intelligent, as the next symbol resembles a donkey, so, they were smart enough to have animals help them till the soil. The next drawing looks like a shovel of some sort, which means they even had tools to help them. Even further proof of their high intelligence is the fish, which means that if a famine had hit the earth, and the food didn't grow, they would take to the sea for food. The last symbol appears to be the Star of David which means they were evidently Hebrews." The audience applauds. But a little old man stands up in the back of the room and says, "Idiots! Hebrew is read from right to left. It says: 'Holy Mackerel, Dig The Ass On That Woman!'"
Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.
[fading] A priest and a rabbi are flying in a plane. After a while the priest turns to the rabbi and asks, "Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?" Rabbi says, "Yes, that is still one of our beliefs." The priest then asks, "Have you ever eaten pork?" Rabbi says, "Yes, on one occasion I did succumb to temptations, and tasted pork." The priest nods in an understanding way and goes on reading. A few minutes later, the rabbi asks the priest, "Is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?" Priest says, "Oh, yes celibacy is a requirement." Rabbi asks him, "Have you ever fallen to the temptations of the flesh?" Priest says, "Yes, Rabbi, on one occasion, I broke with my faith." Rabbi nods in an understanding way, then says, "A lot better than pork, isn't it?"
Discussion from the Internal Bleeding website:
From all the movies I've seen that take place at least 20 years in the future, things are going to be pretty bleak for us, with the post-apocalyptic world and all. We visit another one of these era's in Cirio H. Santiago's 1986 film Future Hunters, where everything is all Mad Max, and people chase each other around in cars looking to get a leg up on the competition. In this case, Matthew (Richard Norton) is being chased and in order to save the world, he has to get his hands on the spear that pierced Jesus' chest, the spear of destiny. He manages to grab it seconds before he's about to be blown up, and his contact with the spearhead transports him 39 years to the past - from 2025 all the way back to 1986, and in proximity to our main subjects, Michelle and Slade (Robert Patrick). After Matthew is shot and on his way to death's door, he fills in Michelle and Slade on what the spearhead is, and that they need to contact a "Hightower" in order to learn how to save the future... Wow... heavy, man.
Michelle is an anthropology student, and she runs a bar near LA. She believes Matthew, even though he sounds batshit crazy. Slade, on the other hand, thinks that the guy was just a wackjob, and that they should get rid of the spear as soon as possible. After some thugs come looking for the spear they decide they should look a little deeper into this Hightower fellow, and find out that he's a doctor that's been doing a lot of research on the spearhead itself. While they can't find Dr. Hightower at the local university, they do find an associate of his that can help bring the spearhead to him in Hong Kong. Michelle and Slade decide to investigate Hong Kong themselves, and choose wisely, because soon a car is following them to gain information about the spear. Hong Kong ends up being a gateway to an unbelievable adventure including Nazi's, a tribe of Mongols, and an army of little people, amongst other things, but will they ever find Hightower and find out what the business of this spear is all about?
Sean: Nazi's, Mongols, Little People, and did I forget to mention Amazons above? I must have forgotten that, since there are so many directions this movie goes towards. It seems like they give you just enough information to follow along before they move towards something else. Hell, sometimes they don't even give you that much. I have to say though, if I had to go through all of this crap fighting all these different groups, I'd want to be with Robert Patrick's character. He plays Slade, the former marine who used to be an airplane mechanic during his time. Because he was a marine, I guess that means he knows how to beat ass against Kung Fu masters (he's so good he gets to fight along side Bruce Lee clone, Bruce Le) and sword fight with the best scimitar wielding Mongol leaders. He's an expert pilot who can fly any aircraft and tell it's top speed and max range just by sitting in it, even though his only experience is as a mechanic. Did I mention that he's a marine? I'm telling you, I wouldn't go to war without him!
Raz: Yeah, this movie is pretty crazy. Your brain will explode, because of all of the crap this movie throws at you. I caught my self wondering several times, "Am I watching the same movie? When did they throw in a kung fu flick? Is that Bruce Lee fighting Pai Mei?" It seems like they tried to fit every action move genre into this movie. It doesn't seem like it has that much dialog ether. In the beginning during the "Mad Max" future car chase, there was a bunch of gun fire and explosions. During this whole sequence there is probably two lines, after eight minutes. You definitely don't have to think much while you're watching it, although you may think that you are watching like, ten different movies.
Sean: This thing was full of bad edits and inconsistencies. There's a car chase (with required car driving into a fruit stand to avoid an accident), and at the start of the car chase, it's night time. After the chase goes on for about 3 or 4 minutes, the screen goes dark for about 1/2 a second, and it's all the sudden day time. It's as if the whole preceding 3 or 4 minutes was all inside of a tunnel, and you finally got out of it. In another scene, our main characters have to jump out of a helicopter seconds before it explodes. They leap straight down into the water, the helicopter explodes, and there's no wreckage... or at least it never falls out of the sky. One of my favorites is during a gunfight on a wooden bridge where one of the baddies gets a grenade put down the back of his shirt. It takes about a minute for the grenade to explode and when it does, one of the main bad guys is holding the exploding dude. The next scene that guy is shown running with the rest of his Nazi buddies, although he never shoes up again. There are several more of these, and I could probably fill another couple paragraphs with them, but the film still manages to stay fun, and I had to just chalk these up to the fun of the movie.
Raz: I love how they reuse movie props these days. The spear of destiny prop looked exactly like the one they used in the Constantine movie released in 2005. It's like they started filming Constantine in the same studio as Future Hunters and they were like "Hey! This spear head would be a great prop for the spear of destiny we need." I guess it is a spear head though. It's metal, it has a point, it's triangular, so yeah I guess a lot of spear heads would look the same. Another thing that is so great about this movie is that they get these actors that look just like the actors from the really popular movies they are pulling the genres out of. For example Mathew, looks kinda like Mel Gibson and he tries really hard with his two lines to sound like him. Liu looks just like Bruce Lee. Well he is Bruce Le, the popular Bruce Lee look alike.
Sean: The ending is totally weak. I was pretty disappointed after all this adventure that it just cuts away so abruptly. You would have thought there would have at least been a voice over or some text on the screen or something. It's not arty enough to just be able to end like that, I needed some more cheese, man... All in all though, it's a good, fun action/adventure move in the vein of "Romancing the Stone" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (it even has the Nazi's!) If you can put up with all the inconsistencies, poor edits and continuity problems it's totally worth the time. I mean, where else are you going to find an army of little people!? I give Future Hunters 3 confusing plot holes out of 5.
Raz: I agree that the ending was fairly disappointing. It's like they didn't know how to end the movie so they were like "Eh... The movie is long enough, let's end it here". Overall I liked this movie though. The movie threw so much action at me that I never lost interest. The plot holes and editing problems were just hilarious. I give Future Hunters 3 reused movie props out of 5.
Matt's review from the Direct To Video Connoisseur blog:
My friend at Movies in the Attic suggested this one to me after I'd reviewed a few other films from the late, great, Cirio H. Santiago. The combination of Robert Patrick and Richard Norton sounded great. It took some work to get it on VHS on Amazon, but I did, so here it is.
Future Hunters starts in the future, where Richard Norton lives in this post-apocalyptic wasteland. He needs to get his hands on the spear that pierced Jesus Christ so he can travel back in time, put it on a special shaft, and prevent the nuclear war that started the apocalypse. Unfortunately, when he makes it to the present day, he bumps into Robert Patrick and his woman getting attacked by bikers, and in the process of defending them, he's fatally wounded. Now it's up to Patrick and his woman to join the spear with the shaft in order to save the world.
This is bad. Bad in a good way, maybe; but definitely bad. First off, do not, under any circumstances, watch this alone. You need people around you to make this one work. To give you an idea, moviewise, this is akin to Alien From LA. Ever seen that one on MST3K? It's great with Mike and the 'Bots making fun of it, but if you were stuck with it by yourself, you'd be in trouble. I'd love to see an MST3K version of this film too.
The biggest problem is the length. We pretty much see the same things over and over: Patrick and his woman get close to something, then the baddies show, and they have a close call, and then we repeat. There were some great individual scenes, making it perfect for watching with friends, because in the spaces of nothingness in between, you can talk about how you're going to tell your staff you're hiking the Appalachian Trail, when, in reality, you're planning to see you're mistress in Argentina.
This is the fourth Robert Patrick film we've covered here at the DTVC. He was kind of weird here, because in the beginning, he couldn't hold his own against three bikers, and then later, he announces "I was in the Marines", and suddenly he's great at hand-to-hand combat. Still, the novelty of the Liquid Metal Terminator never wears off, and it's still good here. Again, another reason why this is more enjoyable among friends.
This has Bruce Le, not to be confused with Bruce Li, or the real deal, Bruce Lee. He was great for the five minutes he was there. I was expecting him to hang around and help Patrick for the rest of the movie, but for some reason he didn't. It was like being invited to dinner, offered a smidge of caviar, then told the rest of the meal will be tuna casserole. Eww.
Since Richard Norton was barely in it, I decided to devote the final paragraph to Cirio H. Santiago. This fall, he will be the second director, after Albert Pyun, to make the DTVC Hall of Fame. That makes sense, because he's probably the second best DTV director of all time, after Pyun. He unfortunately died last September from lung cancer. Looking him up on imdb, I see that he not only did much for the DTV film industry, but he did even more for the art of filmmaking in his native Philippines. He will be missed.
I really think this is a fun movie if watched in a group; but alone you'll just be bored to tears. There isn't enough to grab onto for a solo mish, and the good parts are even better when you have people there to laugh at it and mock it along with you. Believe me, it's much better to get through the down parts if you have someone there to talk about how you need your parents to pay off the girl you were just having an affair with down in Argentina.
Review from the Kult Eye Bleeder blog:
Film starts as post apocalyptic movie. Year is 2025 and world has been a wasteland for last 40 years. One man can save the world by finding the spearhead that was used to kill the Christ and he must touch it to go back in time. Yeah, that's right. He finds the spear and is transported back in time to LA. Year is 1987.
Slade (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2) and Michelle (Linda Carol) finds him wounded, man tells them that they have to return the spearhead to it's original shaft. Man from the post apocalyptic world drops dead. Couple start their journey to find the shaft. Bad guys are of course after the spear so that they can unleash the evil powers and rule the world.
Wild mix of genres in this one. Post apocalyptic movie turn into present day drama, then suddenly some kung fu is thrown in and rest of movie is sort "Romancing the Stone" rip off. Movie also includes tribe of Amazon women, rose sniffing bad guy (that was SO over the top that i totally cracked up), lots of cardboard stones and all kinds of crazy shit.
Definitely not the best Santiago movie, but lots of fun. Just be ready for some really over the top WTF moments.