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Future Hunters
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by Brett Gallman

"Or, Robert Patrick and the Holy Lance"
2 stars

Sometimes a movie seems to be so feverishly insane that it demands your attention. Stumbling across something like “Future Hunters”--a movie that somehow opens in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and climaxes at a plasticine Glamazon temple--certainly qualifies as one of those times.

At the center of this wacky plot is the spear that pierced Christ on the cross, here re-imagined as a weapon of mass destruction that can melt people. “Here” at first being the year 2025, where Richard Norton is apparently mankind’s only hope to recover this artifact, so he blasts through a bombed out wasteland (that suspiciously just looks like a desert), avoiding gangs and exploding miniatures. Upon reaching the magical Jesus spear, he’s transported back to Los Angeles in 1986, just in the nick of time to save Michelle (Linda Carol) from getting raped by thugs.

Unfortunately, he either perishes from a pre-existing wound or the L.A. smog, so he has to now entrust Michelle and her boyfriend Slade (Robert Patrick) with this spear that can now somehow prevent the apocalypse from ever happening in the first place--and this is where the fun really begins (well, if you can actually glean any fun from something not fit for human consumption).

As you watch Michelle and Slade globe-hop from one destination to another, all the while avoiding a Ivan Drago-lite Aryan thug who takes his cues from the jazz hands of the film’s mysterious enigmatic villain, you start to gather that “Future Hunters” has to be the result of someone cobbling together a script after watching a Saturday afternoon block of movies like “Mad Max,” “Conan,” and maybe a Shaw Brothers classic or two. Oh, and, yes, “The Terminator”; I imagine when Robert Patrick read this script, he imagined it to be like a crappy version of James Cameron’s film, so his appearance in “Terminator 2” probably felt like penance.

Calling “Future Hunters” scatter-brained is being complimentary because that presumes it has brains. It certainly has a willingness to try anything to see if it sticks, such as random kung-fu battles with Shaolin monks, and a tribe of Filipino little people that Michelle and Slade must free from their Mongol oppressors. In addition to racing for some fabled destination during all of this, everyone is battling to see who can be the stupidest; our villains concoct elaborate schemes that include impersonating hotel room service and making prank phone calls. Luckily for them, Slade and Michelle are perfectly willing to play along, even when the bad guys leave them a helicopter and a map to their eventual destination (a ploy that only comes after the bad guys have taken off in their own helicopter and firebombed them instead of just shooting them in the face at point blank or something).

I came across “Future Hunters” by scouring a public domain DVD collection (the cinephile’s equivalent to dumpster diving) and having Robert Patrick’s name catch my eye, and this was actually his debut (I hesitate to say “big screen debut” because I don’t like to imagine that “Future Hunters” actually played in theaters). Armed with a puffy hairdo and an overly earnest Brooklyn accent, he proves to be a bit of a doofus and far removed from the detached ferocity of his most famous role. He’s actually a bit of whiner, as the far more adventurous Michelle practically has to drag him from place to place; otherwise, I think this dude would be pretty content to spend his days chowing down hamburgers while everyone else figured out the whole apocalypse thing. Luckily, he’s friends with a martial artist played by Bruce Li who is neither the Bruce Lee nor the Bruce Li who played “Bruce Lee” in a bunch of Bruceploitation flicks. Still, he comes in handy when they need to kick that Shaolin monk’s ass, so don’t ask.

I’m sure “Future Hunters” sounds like a blast, and it is until you realize it was directed by Corman protégé and low budget trash maestro Cirio H. Santiago out in the wilds of the Philippines. That region actually has a rich, proud cinematic history, but you’d never know it if you only judged it by the movies churned out there by cheap producers during this era. “Future Hunters” seemingly exhausts most of its budget during the big opening number with Norton, and you can almost see the dollars dwindling as the movie blasts ahead anyway.

I’d say it’s running on fumes by the time it reaches the end, but it’s more apt to say that it’s sniffing said fumes. How else could you explain a film where the fate of the world rests on an American Gladiators-style battle over an alligator pit?

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originally posted: 03/14/12 18:05:55
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  01-Jan-1986 (R)



Directed by
  Cirio H. Santiago

Written by
  J. Lee Thompson

  Robert Patrick
  Linda Carol
  Ed Crick
  Bob Schott
  David Light

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