Review of Endgame

Endgame (1983)
Kinda like The Running Man meets The X-Men, by way of The Ultimate Warrior, Escape From New York and Mad Max—only crap.
4 September 2010
In a bleak, post-apocalyptic future, society is controlled by a military force determined to exterminate undesirable under-classes, including a race of peaceful telepaths whose powers pose a potential threat to their totalitarian regime; as the 'security service' (who fittingly wear Nazi-style Stormtrooper helmets emblazoned with an SS logo) carry out their acts of mass slaughter, the general public is kept distracted by Endgame, a violent television show that pits several hunters against a single human prey, of which all-round tough guy Shannon (Al Cliver) is the current undefeated champion.

During the latest edition of Endgame, Shannon is approached by telepath Lilith (Laura Gemser), who offers the warrior a fortune in gold to lead a small group of mutants beyond the confines of the city, where they intend to rendezvous with others of their kind. Shannon accepts the job, recruits a team of double-hard bastards to assist him, and escorts the mutants into the dangerous atomic wastelands, hotly pursued by his chief Endgame rival Karzak (George Eastman) and several gas-mask wearing SS troops.

Endgame's basic premise—The Running Man meets The X-Men, by way of The Ultimate Warrior, Escape From New York and Mad Max—sure sounds like a lot of fun, but as is often the case with these early '80s, Italian, post-apocalyptic rip-offs, the actual film leaves a lot to be desired. Low production values, heavy handed direction from Joe D'amato, poorly choreographed fight scenes, surprisingly listless performances from its seasoned exploitation cast, and a lack of outrageous splatter means that the film is far from the enjoyably cheesy, excessively violent, OTT futuristic romp that the gloriously fetishistic cover—an image of a musclebound gladiator wielding all manner of gore spattered weaponry—leads us to believe it will be.

The movie begins with approximately half an hour of extremely dull Endgame action in which the expressionless Al Cliver, sporting embarrassing Ziggy Stardust-style silver face paint, engages in several lacklustre scenes of combat against the game's hunters; this is followed by an hour or so of repetitive and only-slightly-less-dull larger scale conflict as Shannon and pals battle unconvincingly against the denizens of the wasteland, who include involuted mutants (fish men, monkey men etc.) and hordes of blind scavengers. In order to eke out his limited budget, D'amato uses derelict warehouses and patches of urban wasteland to stand in for his world ravaged by nuclear war, limits his vehicular stunts to a few unspectacular falls from motorcycles and a car crash or two, opts for bargain basement make-up for his mutants, and shells out as few Lira as possible on gore (I want squibs, Goddamit—lots of squibs!).

Admittedly fun moments include the rape of Lilith by a fat, blue, scaly, drooling fish man (yet another opportunity for far-from-shy-and-retiring Gemser to bare her breasts), a telepath receiving an axe in the head (a scene apparently cut from the UK release by those nice people at the BBFC), and the chief Nazi blowing his own brains out (forced to do so by a telekinetic kid, one of the supposedly benign mutant clan incapable of hurting others). These 'high points', however, are nowhere near enough to prevent the film as a whole from being an instantly forgettable and relatively worthless experience.
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