The 1983 Italian film, Warrior of the Lost World, opens with a long title card that explains that society has collapsed, due to radiation, disease, wars, and multiple bank bail-outs. The world of the future is a dangerous place, where the roads are ruled by dangerous scavengers. It’s a world where survival is not guaranteed and only those who are willing to fight will live to see another day and….
Well, look, I’ll be honest. It was a really long title card and, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I don’t have a particularly long attention span. I read about the radiation and the diseases and then I kind of zoned out. The important thing to know is that the film takes place in the future and that the film was made in the wake of the international success of The Road Warrior. In the early 80s, the Italian film industry briefly abandoned zombies to make movies about people driving cars through a post-apocalyptic landscape. In fact, I initially assumed that David Worth was a pseudonym for someone like Enzo Castelleri or even Umberto Lenzi. David Worth is actually a cinematographer who worked on a few Clint Eastwood films and who went to Italy to make his directorial debut with Warrior of the Lost World. After this film, Worth went on to direct Kickboxer and handful of others.
(One thing that’s always interesting about watching these films is discovering that people were speculating about the collapse of society long before 2023. It’s kind of nice to be reminded that people have always been panicking about something, even while society itself continued to survive and grow.)
Robert Ginty stars as The Rider, a man so tough that he doesn’t even need a name. The Rider and his motorcycle travel across the country. The Motorcycle can talk, though it’s screechy voice might make you wish that it couldn’t. It warns The Rider whenever there’s danger nearby. When a bunch of punk rock rejects attempt to attack the Rider, his motorcycle identifies them as being “dorks.” Later, when the Rider is looking at a woman who he has just saved from death, the Motorcycle orders, “Kiss the girl!” The Motorcycle has a weird quirk where it says everything three times. The Rider talks back to the Motorcycle but he always mumbles all of his lines, to the extent that it’s often difficult to really understand what he’s saying. It’s hard not to get the feeling that Robert Ginty couldn’t believe that he was actually having to pretend as if he was a heart-to-heart with a motorcycle.
(The Rider’s bike is actually named Einstein but, to me, it will always by The Motorcycle.)
After the Rider crashes into a wall, he’s nursed back to health by a bunch of old people who are trying to organize a rebellion against the evil Prossor (Donald Pleasence), who rules the State of Omega. Prossor has kidnapped the rebellion’s leader, Prof. McWayne (Harrison Muller, Jr). The old people want The Rider to accompany McWayne’s daughter, Natasia (Persis Khambatta), to Prossor’s city. The Rider whines about being asked but eventually agrees to do so. I’m not sure why The Rider agrees to help because The Rider seriously never stops complaining about how inconvenient the whole journey is. While The Rider does manage to rescue McWayne, Natasia gets left behind so, of course, the Rider has to do it all over again. Fortunately, it turns out that the Omega army isn’t quite as competent as everyone claims that they are. In fact, outsmarting Prosser is so easy that you can’t help but wonder why no one bothered to it before.
Warrior of the Lost World is not necessarily a good movie but, when watched with a group of friends and with the right snarky attitude, it is a fun movie. The action and the plotting is just so over-the-top and ridiculous that it’s hard to look away from the screen and Robert Ginty seems so genuinely annoyed by every little thing that happens that it’s hard not to wonder if maybe The Rider read the script before heading off to confront Prossor. An extended sequence is devoted to everyone singing the Rebellion’s national anthem, the great Donald Pleasence rants like a pro, Fred Williamson has a largely pointless cameo, and the film features what appears to be a 20-minute kiss between The Rider and Natasia. (The Motorcycle watches.) If you can’t have fun while watching Warrior of the Lost World, I just don’t know what to tell you.
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