I GUERRIERI DELL 'ANNO 2072 was Lucio Fulci's very entertaining contribution to the post- ROLLERBALL, post-MAD MAX, post-BLADE RUNNER, mid 1980s sci-fi film era. As an Italian B grade rip-off of successful models it's better than most due to its personal synergy and perverse humor. For instance, there are the GQ male model types in white tuxedos who murder the wife of Drake (Jared Martin), champion of the reality television show KILLBIKE, while whistling a catchy tune in perfect unison. Drake is framed for the murder by television promoter Cortez (Claudio Cassinelli, the handsome, intense actor who died in a 1985 helicopter accident on the set of another Italian sci-fi effort, Sergio Martino's HANDS OF STEEL). Drake is given a death sentence, which is commuted on the condition he appear in a new virtual reality offshoot of KILLBIKE, a 21st Century gladiatorial event in which competing motorcyclists from around the world joust with, maim and kill each other like medieval Knights. Drake is called out to perform by SAM (a satellite based computer), who demands innovation in mass entertainment.
Fulci seems as eager to satirize the genre as he is to deliver an effective action film and pretty much succeeds at both. It opens with a BLADE RUNNER style Vistavision view of a futuristic city, complete with huge outdoor digital screens which display adverts, models and logos amidst the dystopian architecture. As the camera sweeps through this high tech canyon from an overhead vantage, the Roman Coliseum comes into view and we realize it's only Fulci and co. (Al Passeri did the FX) presenting a miniature revamping of Hollywood models. Fulci passed away at the dawn of the Internet era but there's a heavy dose of irony when Cortez ruminates "We created computers to be our slaves, but now we're slaves to them. Such anti-techno rants are carefully planted throughout the action. The action scenes are nonetheless rather impressive, especially the demolition derby, with the bikers careening into each other, delivering gory chops which result in decapitations and other dismemberment. Fulci remained a Godfather of Gore even after his landmark zombie films, right up to the recycled fountains of red spray which decorate CAT IN THE BRAIN. Editor Vincenzo Tomassi's sharp editing minimizes the budgetary/scheduling limitations.
Jared Martin is upstaged by Howard Ross as his leather clad nemesis, Raven, whom actor plays as a lip-smacking sadist dressed by Mario Giorsi in Al Pacino's S&M outfits from CRUISING, or so it seems. Ross (Renato Rossini) is excellent in his frequent roles as slime-ball sickos in such Italian genre items as Mario Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (1970) and Fulci's own THE NEW YORK RIPPER. Martin is there, of course, to pull in the US television audience, who probably weren't even aware of this film when it was first released. He's also out acted by Fighter Centurion bro' Fred Williamson (THE NEW BARBARIANS). The Hammer looks even more ferocious than usual here, delivering a stream of quips between karate kicks and kicking a lot of butts. Euro-genre vets Donald O' Brien (DR. BUTCHER M.D.) and Al Cliver (ZOMBIE, DEVIL HUNTER) round out the supporting cast with colorful performances. This film is such good, nonstop fun that I wanted it to keep going on. There aren't too many Italian sci-fi efforts I can say that about. It's all supported by a grinding electronic score, combined with blasts of heroic brass, by the great Riz Ortolani, which is appropriate for Fulci's glitzy, Romanesque visual riffs. My first published review of this in 2000 ended with a recommendation to rush to the nearest dinosaur video stores to buy up the last MEDIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT prerecord.
(C) Robert Monell, ( 2000-2017)