The Final War Is Over. The Battle's Just Begun.
In a post-apocalyptic future, the world's population now seems to live in a desert wasteland where Alaska once was. The ruling government, known as The Ownership, is ruthless in its control on what little is left of the oil supply. This has caused a rebel faction to exist who want better treatment and fairer access to the oil. The Ownership rule with an iron fist so have been waging a fierce battle against the rebels and are on the verge of winning. During a routine firefight, the father of Slade (Richard Norton, pictured above shirtless), a soldier working for The Ownership, is killed. Slade goes in to help against the orders of Colonel Lawton (William Steis). He is hit by a rebel, knocked out and taken away. Eventually accepted by the rebels, Slade is now a wanted enemy of The Ownership and exists only to kill Lawton and destroy the ruling government.
It's a simple enough plot and it certainly doesn't need any more explanation than that because this movie is amazing. It is literally wall to wall gunfire and explosions. I'm not talking about the kind of action referred to on the back of a modern day "action thriller" DVDs ("A five-star roller-coaster thrill-ride of action and excitement!") that never lives up to its promise. Equalizer 2000 is totally and utterly off the freaking chain EXPLOSIVE ACTION, brought to us by Roger Corman's long time producer Cirio H. Santiago. It's 84 minutes of solid action with numerous firefights, officers in ridiculous uniforms, a few punch-ups, car chases in Interceptor-like cars with spikes stuck to their chassis, cars jumping over chasms, flamethrowers mounted to artillery, a tribe of mountain folk that fire bows and arrows and exploding cars. If that doesn't convince you perhaps the inclusion of the lovely Corinne Wahl as Karen, Slade's love interest in the movie will.
Let's talk about the gun on the cover for a second. I'm sure you are as used as me to covers being ten times more awesome than the contents of the tape or DVD inside; perhaps even the scenes on the cover not even occurring in the movie at all. Not so here. The gun that is pictured above indeed features in the movie. In fact the movie is named after the gun - the Equalizer 2000! It is an almost-complete super-weapon that Slade helps finish in a montage that focuses on Norton's pecs as much as the gun itself. It's a thing of beauty that shoots automatic rounds as well as rockets; a bit like a less-graceful attempt at what Ripley has at the end of Aliens. He then proceeds to lay waste to The Ownership army with it time and time again. It's easily one of my five favourite movie weapons, right up there with the minigun in Predator.
Richard Norton is awesome in this. He only speaks a few times - his strong Australian accent shines through here, probably intentionally kept so as to remind us that this is a Mad Max rip-off - the rest of the time he is kicking arse left, right and centre. The only downtime he has is to polish his gun and quickly romance Corinne Wahl's character. He's certainly in physically great fighting form. I would have enjoyed seeing him in a sequel to this. Equalizer 2001 perhaps? Equalizer 3000 - Norton is cryogenically frozen and thawed out to chase down a rogue criminal? Perhaps that is too similar to Demolition Man, but it would be cool.
You know who else is in this movie? Terminator 2's Robert Patrick in a very early movie role for him. He plays Deke, neither a rebel or army soldier, just a trouble maker who buys and sells fuel for water. He get's interrogated by Colonel Lawton and along with his associates is drafted immediately into the service of The Ownership. Asside from pleading for his life, he turns up later when kidnapping Karen to encourage Slade to come after them. Patrick would seem to owe his career to producer/director Santiago as all his early roles were on his movies. The more you know!
IMDB says that parts of this movie were edited into another Norton/Steis/Santiago post-apocalyptic action flick, Raiders of the Sun. I can believe that this is possible; If I had made this movie I would want to rip it off for future movies as well, it's just that good. I have that movie coming to me in the post so we shall see how that plays out in a future review. Santiago had produced or directed plenty of schlock trash cinema in the Philippines right up to his death in 2008, including a bunch of the Bloodfist movies, One Man Army, Final Mission, Naked Fist and as recent as the Mark Dacascos movies The Hunt for Eagle One and its sequel. We shall surely be seeing more of his work on Explosive Action soon.
If it wasn't obvious, you need to see this movie. This is precisely the kind of movie that this site was made for. There is no DVD of this which is a real shame, so VHS is your only (legal) option. I learnt something when I was acquiring this - the US tape put out by MGM, which the DTVC reviewed on his blog, is actually cut by about ten minutes (running at around 75 minutes). There is a pretty in depth comparison of the UK and US tapes over at movie-censorship.com and it would seem that a lot of the action scenes were shortened on the MGM tape. It was pure luck that I found my Australian issue CBS FOX tape which, based on the link above, is the same as the UK tape.
However you do see this movie, make it happen. Stop reading this review and start looking through those thrift stores and eBay auctions now for your very own copy of Equalizer 2000. And thanks to DTVC for bringing it to my attention in the first place.
As mentioned above, I reviewed the PAL Australian release tape put out by CBS FOX in 1987. The picture quality was amazing for it's age, budget and the fact it's a 25 year old video tape. The sky is actually blue, the sand looks sandy and people's skin isn't orange or green, as tends to happen with some tapes. The sound was fantastic with every gunshot and explosion shaking my speakers. Runtime 84 minutes, plus previews.
eBay for $16, and I'd pay twice or three times the amount again.