Last Of The Warriors (1989)- * *1\2
Directed by: Lloyd A. Simandl and Michael Mazo
Starring: William Smith, Nancy Pataki, Ken Farmer, Joe Maffei, and Melanie Kilgour
In the year 2050, there are few survivors of a worldwide plague. A man named Lucas (Smith) has declared himself “The Grand Shepherd”. We know he’s The Grand Shepherd because he wears a brown smock and has an amulet around his neck. There’s an evil warlord-ess named Baalca (Pataki), not to be confused with Balki, and there are many warriors fighting for control of New Idaho. Lucas’s father is a lot like The Emperor from the Star Wars movies, and there’s a talking computer named Dolores. Finally, there’s a guy named Chuck (Farmer) who has teamed up with a guy named Iodine (Maffei) to save the day. From what, we’re still not sure. Who will be the LAST OF THE WARRIORS?
For Last of the Warriors (AKA Empire of Ash III), we return to the Canadian forests for one more post-apocalyptic romp. Don’t forget that there is no Empire of Ash II. We explained the confusing nature of that in our Maniac Warriors review, or at least we tried to.
The two films seemingly were shot back-to-back and they feature many of the same elements. These include people in ragged clothing riding their “futuristic” vehicles down the street as heavy metal pounds on the soundtrack, many scenes of very silly machine gun shooting, and a rocket launcher hat. We would say that the infamous headwear from the first film is back, but we actually believe it’s a different rocket hat. That’s right, at some time in 1988-89, there were two rocket hats. God help us all.
Clearly the star of the show is Dolores the computer. “She” steals every scene she’s in. Her exuberance and delight in her ability to remotely fly a helicopter is evident. We haven’t seen anything like her since Willard in R.O.T.O.R. (1987) or Gertrude from The Protector (1999). She even manages to upstage the great William Smith. As great as both Smith and Dolores are, it seems that Last of the Warriors would have benefited from another name in the cast. Perhaps a Dale Midkiff, or maybe a George Kennedy would have fit the bill nicely.
An odd casting choice came in the form of Ken Farmer as Chuck. Why in the world would they get a guy who looks exactly like William Smith, right down to the mustache, to play opposite William Smith? We haven’t been so unsure of who we were looking at since Harris Yulin and Art Garfunkel starred together in Short Fuse (1986), or perhaps when Frank Zagarino and David “Shark” Fralick faced off in Project Eliminator (1991). We were truly seeing double.
While there are plenty of funny scenes, and some impressive stuntwork, there are significant pacing issues. It’s an improvement over the first installment in the series, but it can’t crack the 2 ½ stars barrier, unfortunately. But it’s a stronger 2 ½ stars than the first movie.
The heavy metal soundtrack was provided by a group called The Gore Avenue Music Project, and their music helps a lot in keeping the energy up when it starts to flag, which is frequently. But then the music will blast again and/or something silly will happen. So it’s hard to really hate what you’re watching.
That being said, when it comes to the filmmaking partnership of Michael Mazo and Lloyd Simandl (yes, this oddball movie had two directors. Of course it did), it’s really hard to beat Crackerjack II (1997). But that would be true for any movie, really. For those familiar with the directorial style of Simandl, Last of the Warriors features plenty of “Simandl Moments” that may ring a bell.
AIP really seemed to love these homemade, low-budget action offerings, so naturally they released both Empire of Ash movies on VHS. If you see them anywhere for a good price, snap them up. They may not wow you by being the best things you’ve ever seen, but there are only so many of these tapes in the world and they’re not making any more of them.
For a side of the DTV world that is lesser-seen, Last of the Warriors is certainly worth a look.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty