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Stryker

Kino // R // January 3, 2017
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted January 12, 2017 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed in 1983 by the late, great Cirio H. Santiago, Filipino exploitation auteur extraordinaire, Stryker (also known as Savage Dawn) is far from the best of the Mad Max knock offs that came out after the box office success of that picture. It is, however, a ridiculous slice of low budget trash filmmaking and as such, it'll entertain those with an affinity for drive-in style action and cheapjack sci-fi tinged post-apocalyptic thrills.

Some opening narration lets us in on the state of the world, and it's not good. Nukes have been dropped and the world has gone to Hell in a handbasket. Water has become the hottest commodity in the world and as, obviously, people need it to survive the various denizens of this wasteland are more than willing to kill for it. We see this first hand early in the film when a gang of lowlifes chase down a woman with some cool, refreshing H20 and the knowledge of where to find more. Their attack is cut short when a rifleman named Stryker (Steve Sandor) and his pal Bandit (William Ostrander). The woman takes one of her would be captors' cars and makes a break for it.

From here the story kinda-sorta establishes itself. The bad guys answer to a heavy named Kardis (Mike Lane) who intends to control the world's water supply and use it for his own nefarious means. What he wants to do is use the thigs in his employ to take on a gang of warrior women led by Delha (Andria Savio). Delha and her lady friends protect The Colony, a ramshackle survival camp of sorts set up around a spring. They hope to team up with Trun (Ken Metcalfe), the guy in charge of a similar setup not too far away in the local desert. An alliance will force Kardis to play nice seems like a good plan, but it'll be easier said than done. Zigzagging in and out of the story, of course, is our titular hero and his buddy. It turns out that Kardis is responsible for the death of Stryker's wife some time ago and he wants revenge. For some reason the writer's figured it would make sense to make Styker Trun's brother but that never winds up meaning all that much in the grand scheme of things. Eventually, however, Stryker and Kardis will square off in a battle for the ages. Oh, and a bunch of creatures that are Jawas but not quite Jawas spend a lot of time gibberjabbering all over the place.

This was clearly made fast and clearly made cheap. Distributed by Roger Corman's New World Pictures shortly before he sold the company off, Stryker is an unashamed cash-in on a cinematic trend, but it's entertaining enough. What makes it the fun time killer that it is? Action, violence, action and more violence! People get shot (a lot), carved up, run over, kicked around, punched in the face… it's all here and it's all done by people dressed up in goofy costumes and driving awesome beat-up cars swiped out of some Filipino junkyard. Add to that the fact that there are some genuinely cool car chases here and loads of stuff getting blown up every couple of minutes and, for the non-discerning cinephile at least, Stryker delivers…

…so long as you don't think about it too much. Or at all, really. Characters pop in and out of the movie at random, the titular hero gets very little screen time and his relationship with his comrade at arms given no actual backstory. Logic is not only frequently but nearly constantly tossed aside in favor of explosions and characters do not act in ways that make a whole lot of sense. The movie doesn't have a whole lot of style, it winds up looking like almost every other post nuke/Mad Max cash-in, and it's clear that very little thought was put into the actual storyline here.

But who cares! This is Stryker not The Color Purple. It's about stuff blowing up and people killing each other. On that level? Yeah, it's a good time at the movies.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Stryker is presented on Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in a 1.78.1 transfer that looks pretty solid. The movie was previously released in a boxed set of dubious legality from Video Asia entitled The Grindhouse Experience Volume 2. That transfer was culled from a fullframe tape source and it looked like crap. Clearly there isn't a whole lot of competition for Kino to play against with their Blu-ray release but by and large, the picture here is good despite the presence of some minor but noticeable print damage evident throughout playback. Presented on a 25GB disc the transfer does show a couple of minor compression artifacts here and there but odds are good that if you're not looking for them you won't notice them. There are no obvious issues with edge enhancement and colors look okay, if never quite reference quality, though some mild noise reduction seems to have been applied here, smoothing things over just a bit more than you might like. This won't blow you away but it is a big step up from what we've seen before.

Sound:

The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in English. Clarity isn't reference quality and there's a bit of minor distortion in the higher end at times but otherwise, this track is fine. The dialogue is easy enough to follow and to understand and the levels are well balanced. Optional English subtitles are provided.

Extras:

Extras begin with an audio commentary featuring filmmaker Jim Wynorski who is joined by Code Red's Bill Olsen and ‘post nuke historian' Damon Packard (the man who made the mighty Reflections Of Evil. Wynorski starts off by noting that the commentary crew is actually watching a VHS tape rather than an HD version like we see on this disc. From there he talks about how he essentially remade Stryker a few years later and how he made two movies with director Cirio (not Ciro!) Santiago. It sounds like they tried to get some of the crew members to talk about the film but couldn't find anyone who had been involved with the picture. Wynorski has some great stories here about working with Corman as well as Santiago, how they made a ‘sequel' of sorts in 2009 called Water Wars (yet to be given a legitimate release domestically), problems he himself ran into while working on exploitation pictures in The Philippines, how he wound up working for Corman directly, how audiences have changed over the years, the good and bad qualities of Stryker, recycling WWII bases for locations and loads more. It's not always Stryker specific, but it is interesting (particularly if you enjoy Wynorski's work).

Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other post nuke releases (The Sisterhood, Equalizer 2000, Dune Warriors, Wheels Of Fire… all of which have been released on Blu-ray by Code Red), menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Stryker isn't so much a good movie as it is a fun movie, an entirely brainless ninety minutes of action and stupidity staged in a nuclear wasteland directed by a man who cared not for logic, but who cared a whole lot about explosions. The presentation is decent and hey, you even get a pretty great audio commentary as the main extra. If low budget post-nuke movies tickle your fancy, consider this one recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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