Director Cirio H. Santiago is one of the kings of low budget filmmaking, who was the Philippines answer to Roger Corman, and the one genre he was quite a fan of was the post-apocalyptic film – aka the Mad Max rip-offs – but one particular venture into the genre varied greatly from all his other ones, and that film would be Future Hunters. Now, this film did have a post-apocalyptic element to it, but only for the first ten minutes, the rest is more of a Romancing the Stone rip-off with Nazis, Shaolin fighters, Mongol horsemen, cave-dwelling little people, and of course Amazon warriors. Basically making it one of the greatest movies ever made…well it’s at least one of the most unique movies ever made.
The movie opens with your standard post-apocalyptic narration where we are told that it is the year 2025, almost 40 years since the nuclear holocaust, and mankind’s last frail hope lies in a fabled object that is rumoured to be able to turn back time, and perhaps undo the evil that has befallen the world. That object is the Spear of Longinus aka The Spear of Destiny.
Note: I wonder why Indiana Jones never bothered hunting this thing down, especially if it can allow time travel and the fact that Nazis are also after it would have made Indy feel right at home.
This spear, the one that pierced the side of Christ, not only has the power to move one through time but apparently holds the very power of creation itself. Jeez, the things they don’t teach you in Sunday School. So we are then told (this narration does go on for quite a bit) that a small band of rebels have crossed deep into the Forbidden Zone, a wasteland ruled by the cruel warlord Zaar (David Light), in an attempt to retrieve the Spear of Destiny so that they can go back in time and prevent the nuclear holocaust from ever happening, “Now the lone survivor in this deadly quest is a man called Matthew.”
Using a badass gun, that is clearly more impressive than the titular weapon of Equalizer 2000 that Richard Norton will use the following year, Matthew (Richard Norton) is able to blow several of the warlord’s flunkies to kingdom come, but eventually, he is surrounded and captured. He is brought to the fortress of the warlord but before they can lock him in his cell he takes out his guards and escapes to the temple that holds the Spear of Longinus. Zaar and his men charge the temple and the warlord yells out, “Matthew, you cannot succeed in this. Give up. Accept death, Matthew, you know it has been coming to you for a long time.” I hate to Monday morning quarterback evil warlords but if his death was a long time coming why didn’t you kill him earlier, what was the point of bringing him back to your fortress? As it is this just allowed Matthew easier access to the Spear. Great work guys.
Zaar calls in his tank battalion and they blast the hell out of the temple, but they are too late and Matthew was able to activate the powers of the Spear. The movie then jumps to the year 1986 where we meet the film’s actual heroes; anthropologist and diner owner Michelle (Linda Carol) and her boyfriend Slade (Robert Patrick). She’s investigating some ruins that look a lot like the temple from the future, but then she is attacked by some bikers because this wouldn’t be a Cirio H. Santiago film if there wasn’t at least one attempted rape scene (this film has two). Slade tries to fight them off but he is knocked out, then just as she is about to be raped out of the ruins steps Matthew and he kicks some serious ass. He kills the last dude by stabbing him with the Spear which turns that guy to ash.
Unfortunately for us, Matthew took a round in the chest from one of the bikers and thus he exits the picture. So not so much the saviour of humanity as we were led to believe. Before dying Matthew was able to tell Michelle and Slade that he was from the future and informs them that, “This is the spear that pierced the one called Christ. Through the ages only evil powers possessed it. It must be joined with its shaft and held in open view for its dark powers to be broken.” He warns them that bad men will be after it and that they must find a man by the name of Hightower (Paul Holmes) and finish the mission that he had started. After Matthew dies Slade wants nothing to do with the ramblings of a crazy man, but when a group of thugs, led by a white-haired behemoth named Bauer (Bob Schott), show up at Michelle’s diner wanting the spear, he decides to help her look for Hightower.
When they go to the university that Professor Hightower works for they find out that he is away on one of his many expeditions, but his associate Professor Fielding (Ed Crick) is willing to take the Spear to Hightower himself and promises to deliver to Hightower. Fielding is sending off “I’m the main villain” vibes so powerful they could probably be seen from space, so even an obtuse Michelle declines his offer. On the drive home, they are attacked but armed men in a chase car, but they escape when it turns out their assailants were driving one of those cars that if it slightly jarred it will explode.
So our heroes fly to Hong Kong for their first leg of the journey in finding Professor Hightower. They are met at the airport by an old friend of Slade’s named Liu (Bruce Le), who Slade had asked to look into a temple that Professor Hightower was last seen at, and when Slade and Liu go to check it out they are confronted by a Kung Fu master (Jang Lee Hwang). This standard white-haired Chinese Kung Fu master tells them that this is a place for the dead, and if they stay they will both be dead, but Slade is your standard ugly American and he responds, “This is my only chance to see this place. I’m leaving tomorrow, and we’re not looking for any trouble, and besides, I was in the Marines.” And Slade then proceeds to get his ass kicked by the Kung Fu master until Liu steps in to save the day.
Liu happened to have a set of nunchaku in his socks, as I assume every guy in China does and is able to hold his own for a while, but then out of the blue a sniper takes out the Kung Fu master. Liu tells Slade they better run as that shot was meant for him. Overall this scene adds nothing to the plot and is basically there so we could get a martial arts scene. This, of course, could be said of many scenes in this movie.
Meanwhile back at the hotel, Michelle is attacked by some Chinese thugs who want the Spear and plan to rape the information out of her. Slade and Liu arrive in time to prevent things from getting too ugly and lay a beat down on the thugs; they interrogate the head thug (as in beat the information out of him) and find out that the place Professor Hightower was heading was the fabled Venus Valley. Michelle has heard of this place informing the guys that, “It is said to be fiction, not fact, it is said to be located somewhere in South East Asia. Inhabited by Amazon female-like warriors called Kasady, they are a newly founded tribe.” Wait, how can you have a newly founded tribe of mythical Amazons? And aren’t Amazons by definition female? So what the hell does female “like” warriors mean?
Michelle gets a telegram from Professor Fielding saying he is in Hong Kong and wants to meet, and could she bring along the Spear of Destiny. Michelle is suspicious at Fielding turning up so suddenly in Hong Kong, but Slade puts her at ease saying he’s probably here to meet up with Hightower. This is when we find out that the bad guys make the worst of the Bond villains look like great forward thinkers. That Professor Fielding is the leader of a new Nazi movement will surprise no one, and that wants to see the world wiped clean of inferior races by a nuclear war is something one can expect, but when he sends a car to pick up Michelle and Slade one of the goons is Bauer who had attacked them earlier at Michelle’s diner, you have to wonder, “Just how dumb is this Nazi leader?”
Michelle is snatched; Slade tries to rescue her, fails and is also captured. Then Slade actually tells Fielding, “To finish the job” which is not something you hear often from a hero. Way to give up dude. But lucky for our esteemed couple Fielding likes to give everyone a sporting chance, so he and his goons get into a helicopter and lob rockets at his own fucking lair. Slade and Michelle aren’t even tied up, what kind of Bond villain trap is that? Unfortunately, Professor Hightower was chained to the wall and so our heroes, without even a “Sorry Professor” have to abandon him as the place explodes under a rain of missiles.
So that seems pretty dumb, but no it gets dumber. Fielding left a second helicopter fueled and ready to go for our heroes to steal, and inside that helicopter was also the flight plan to the Venus Valley. But Fielding is a crafty bastard, he had rigged an explosive under the helicopter seat that could be remotely detonated, but then he for some unfucking-believable reason he radios Slade to tell him to look under the seat. There is giving your opponents a fair chance and then there is being a complete idiot.
This warning gives our heroes time to leap out of the helicopter before it explodes and lands safely in the water below. The two then head to a local airport to rent an airplane, but because Slade has no pilot’s license the man running the place won’t rent him one. So Slade ties the guy up and steals a plane. I guess saving the world means sometimes you may have to be a dick, but Slade isn’t even a competent dick as he didn’t bother to check to see if the plane had enough fuel. So they have to bail out of a second aircraft in almost as many minutes. Things get even worse when the crashing plane alerted Fielding and his Nazi goons to their presence, and they are captured…again. But does fielding immediately kill them, he has the Spear so no reason to keep them, but no, he ties them to a tree.
The Mongols lay waste to the Nazi camp and a stray round cuts one of the ropes holding Slade to the tree. So Slade and Michelle escape during one of the biggest Deus ex machinas in the history of film. The Nazis manage to catch up to our heroes on your standard jungle rope bridge, but Slade is able to avoid recapture this time by stuffing a grenade down the shirt of one of the Nazi goons. The guy explodes and the bridge breaks apart. But Slade and Michelle aren’t out of the woods yet because the jungle is still crawling with nasty Mongol raiders, so they decide to hide in a nearby cave and that is where they meet cave-dwelling little people.
It seems the Mongols have been giving the little people a rough time of it and so they offer to lead Slade and Michelle to the Venus Valley if they first help defeat the Mongols. And because that is not a completely insane deal our idiot heroes agree, and so we are treated to what is basically the Battle of Endor if someone had shaved the Ewoks.
The Mongols are routed and the little people guide Slade and Michelle to the Venus Valley where, shortly thereafter, our two hapless morons are capture by the Nazis…again. Slade gives Fielding a nasty glare and says, “I should have made sure of you” to which Fielding responds, “A mistake I will not make, Mister Slade.” Yeah, cause you already made that mistake about three times already, you asshat. Fielding then demands they return the Spear of Destiny with the only offer of giving it up before or after he has them killed.
In the ensuing chaos, Fielding is knocked down a hill by Slade, and then Slade and Michelle are immediately captured by the Amazons. Well at least that’s a break from being held prisoner by Nazis I guess. They are brought before the Amazon Queen (Ursula Marquez) and are told, “You will have what you seek,” well that is if Michelle can defeat their champion over the “Pit of Death” which is basically a thin log over a crocodile pit surrounded by a ring of fire. If Michelle loses she will die and the Queen gets Slade as a boy toy, and if she wins they get what they came for and their freedom. Seems like in either outcome Slade comes out okay. The Queen then mentions that her champion has never been beaten and so the odds of an anthropologist/diner owner winning shouldn’t be too good.
Yet somehow Michelle wins, maybe she used the Force or something. The Queen looks down into the pit at the crocs chewing on her champion, who is screaming in pain and then puts the poor woman out of her misery with a spear to the throat. Her death is particularly graphic and gruesome and not really in keeping with the tone of the film.
Michelle and Slade are escorted up the mountain to the sacred cave that holds the Shaft of Longinus, and just as Michelle pulls the shaft out of its prehistoric resting place Fielding shows up. This unstoppable moron then offers Slade a place at his side in the New Order, Slade declines the offer, they wrestle for a bit, and then Slade hits Fielding in the head with a…candelabra? Michelle then slips the Spearhead onto the shaft, tosses it to Slade, and then Slade stabs Fielding in the gut. Unfortunately putting the Spear of Destiny back together triggers an earthquake that wrecks the Amazon’s village, killing the Queen in the process, and trapping our heroes in a cave-in, but don’t worry the little people from earlier show up to dig them out. Cause why not. Michelle walks out and holds up the Spear to the cheers of the little people, not so much from the Amazons who are mostly dead.
That’s it, seriously? That is the last shot of your movie? There is no wrap up no narration saying how the nuclear holocaust has been averted, just cut to credits and everybody getting up and going home. They could have at least had a shot of the ghost of Richard Norton looking on smiling. Disappointing end and all this is still a movie that contains road battles in the year 2025, the Spear of Longinus, time travel, Kung Fu fights, Mongol warriors, cave-dwelling little people, and of course Amazon warriors. If you can’t find entertainment in that you are probably watching the wrong genre. Sure the acting is universally terrible, even Robert Patrick, the plot makes not one lick of sense, and each sequence seems to happen without and proper build-up or connection to the previous scene or the following one. Overall the thing is a complete mess, and I loved it.
Check out more post-apocalyptic movie reviews here: Road Warrior Rip-Offs: Guns, Babes and Dwarves in a World Gone Mad.
Future Hunters (1986)
Cirio H. Santiago’s Future Hunter is definitely one of those “So bad it’s good” movies, and if you go in with the right frame of mind you will probably have a grand ole time.