With Raiders of the Sun we get producer/director Cirio H. Santiago’s most environmentally conscious film yet, and by that I mean 90% of the action in this movie is recycled from his previous films Wheels of Fire and Equalizer 2000. This is the ultimate in low-budget post-apocalyptic filmmaking. as it not only reuses footage but also costumes, plot elements, actors and even characters, with only the names changed to protect the guilty.
The title may seem like Santiago is ripping off Raiders of the Lost Ark this time, but that is not the case, this is just another one of Ciro’s many Mad Max rip-offs. The film opens with a battle between the Alpha League and an insurrectionist group led by Colonel Clay (William Steis). Clay is dressed in the exact outfit that Steis wore in Equalizer 2000 and is still playing the main nemesis to this movie’s badass hero. In that role we have Brodie (Richard Norton), also dressed exactly like his character from Equalizer 2000, and he has been given the daunting mission of getting more gunpowder for Alpha League.
Where this film differs from Wheels of Fire and Equalizer 2000 is that Brodie is not the film’s sole male hero, after the Battle of Brokedown Pass – also the same name given to the location of the battle in Wheels of Fire – which makes one wonder if Cirio H. Santiago just has a Boggle game with names and words that he just dumps out on the table and calls it a script, but it is here where we are introduced to Talbot (Blake Boyd), a man who is retiring from service return to his farm and beautiful wife.
What is truly unusual is that Brodie and Talbot don’t have much actual screen time together, instead of getting a buddy adventure film these two separate and go off on two divergent plotlines. Talbot’s plotline has to deal with going home to discover that his community had been destroyed by a redneck army, led by an asshole by the name of Hoghead (Rick Dean). Most of the villagers are killed and Talbot’s wife Vera (Brigitta Stenberg) is captured.
While tooling around on his chopper Brodie encounters some of Boss Hogg’s men…I mean Hoghead’s men, and he tries to rescue Vera, but they shoot his bike, and the villains just drive off with the girl. Nothing beats seeing a hero Insta-Fail. Talbot shows up while Brodie is burying Vera’s dad, and they decide to join forces as the most likely place that they would have taken Vera is the town of a Valentine, which is also a good place for Brodie to investigate a rumoured lost gunpowder mine.
Note: I’m not sure the filmmakers are aware of the fact that gunpowder isn’t something you mine. At one point in the film, a character refers to “potassium mines” but potassium nitrate is only one ingredient in the making of gunpowder, and yet these guys find mines loaded with explosive black powder just lying around.
While on route to Valentine Brodie and Talbot rescue a beautiful Filipino woman, named Sierra (Lani Lobangco), from some Mountain Hunters, she is grateful and decides to join them. When the trio makes it to Valentine, Brodie follows some of Hoghead’s men into a bar, while Brodie and Sierra interrogate a group of little people who may know the location of the lost mine. They inform Brodie and Sierra of a place called Aguilla Point, located in the mountains to the west, where the fabled gunpowder can be found. Later Brodie rescues the little people from a bunch of assholes who think burning midgets is fun.
Back in Valentine Talbot has impressed the members of Hoghead’s gang, and he is now working undercover in the hopes of finding his wife. Meanwhile, Vera does seem to be doing pretty good on her own, as she knees Hoghead in the groin and knocks out one of his teeth when he tries to rape her. Tickled by her spunk he has her locked in one of the dungeon cells for later. Hoghead is suspicious of Talbot and forces him to compete in an Initiation. This entails two idiots swinging back and forth on ropes while trying to hit one another with clubs. Hoghead tosses Talbot’s opponent a knife – the dirty cheater – but Talbot is still victorious.
Back with Brodie and Sierra, we find that Brodie was injured, and has been taken into the mountains where Sierra’s people live. Sierra nurses Brodie back to health, but Brodie is a bit miffed to find out that Aguilla Point is where Sierra is from, and that he’s been travelling with a person who knew all along where the location of the lost gunpowder mine was.
He tries to appeal to her father, telling him that the Alpha League desperately needs the gunpowder if they are ever going to defeat Colonel Clay and his evil insurrectionist, but this is a peaceful village, and they only use the gunpowder for ceremonial purposes.
Trouble enters paradise when Clay and his soldiers arrive, having figured out that this is where the gunpowder can be found, and then we have a rather one-sided battle between spear-wielding mountain people and dudes with M-16s. Then something happens that will surprise no one who has seen Equalizer 2000, poor Sierra is gunned down.
Did I mention that Colonel Clay and Hoghead were brothers? Well they are, and they have decided to team up to destroy the Alpha League, but then Hoghead is run over by an escaping Talbot and Vera. Damn, I hate when family reunions are ruined by vehicular homicide. Clay vows revenge and prepares for the big fight, but not before having a funeral pyre for his dead brother of course.
Clay and his forces – now combined with his late brother’s men – lay siege to the Alpha League Citadel, but just when things seem at their bleakest a car blasts through Clay’s soldiers, evading multiple mortar rounds, and is revealed to be Brodie in a car full of gunpowder and little people. The gunpowder is rushed into the Citadel so that the men can start loading shells, and once again I’m not sure the filmmakers understood how firearms work. The time it would take to process the gunpowder, and then load it into casings for your standard mortar shell and M-16 bullet, is a tad longer than your standard battle. If this was an actual siege – where the Alpha League was able to hold off the enemy for days – this would make sense, but not here where everyone immediately engages in a massive firefight, thus making the arrival of the gunpowder completely pointless.
We finally get the showdown between Brodie and Clay, with the latter ending his villainous career with the standard villain fall to his death moment, and the day is saved. Midgets, forest folk, and Alpha League soldiers all cheer our valiant heroes, and another exciting post-nuclear war movie comes to a close.
Raiders of the Sun has enough action for fans of the genre – if you have seen Wheels of Fire and Equalizer 2000 you can play the “Spot the reused footage” game – and it really is astonishing how much Cirio H. Santiago recycles from footage to costume to script ideas. The Alpha League soldiers are dressed like The Ownership from Wheels of Fire while Clay’s insurrectionists are dressed like The Ownership from Equalizer 2000, and having Richard Norton and William Steis practically revising their characters from the previous film is just bizarre.
Check out more post-apocalyptic movie reviews here: Road Warrior Rip-Offs: Guns, Babes and Dwarves in a World Gone Mad.
Raiders of the Sun (1992)
Another cheesy entry in the post-apocalyptic genre, with a nice dual hero storyline this time out, but the recycled elements from Cirio H. Santiago’s previous films is almost too comic to be believed.