Sunday, 15 May 2011

Yul Brynner Brings It As ...


The Ultimate Warrior
(1975)

Set in a future decimated by a plague, the Spartan populace of New York City is dispersed into pockets of survivalist groups. The civilised, the lawless and the scavengers each battle to survive in a world where food and water supplies are sparse. The cultivation of new crops is nigh on futile due to ecological devastation. There is hope, however, in the guise of Cal, a horticulturalist who has rediscovered successful seed growth in soil. He resides with the Baron (Max Von Sydow) in a fortified sanctuary within the city. Under the leadership of the Baron the people of this community have security and hope, but across the street resides Carrot (William Smith), a physically dominant figure of leadership to his anarchic followers. Carrot wants what the Baron has, and will do anything to acquire it !.


Fate plays its hand when a lone stranger appears one day. A warrior for hire, prominently standing for all to see in the centre of the dilapidated city. The Baron steps out from his protective haven with a small band of protective men, his intention to offer the stranger food and shelter in exchange for his services. Initially giving no response or indication of acceptance to the proposition made, the Baron makes his way back to his stronghold, but he and his men are set upon by the street scavengers. To their aid comes the stranger, bare chest displaying his strong physique, and a knife wielded in his hand clearly showing his intent. This man for hire is clearly all that the Baron believed him to be, a warrior !.


Yul Brynner is The Ultimate Warrior, and in great shape for such a physical role here at the age of fifty five, clearly setting a great example to the future senior Action stars of today who too have maintained their health and fitness regimes, enabling them to still be doing the physically demanding roles with believability, such as Sylvester Stallone. Brynner’s character introduces himself to the Baron as Carson. The Baron sees in him a man of honour and the perfect person he has been waiting for to entrust with a mission to benefit the future of mankind.


With Carrot and his mob gaining greater strength, and becoming more of a threat to him and his peoples good intentions, the Baron entrusts Carson with the sustainable plant seeds and the protection of his child bearing daughter. Carson tells the Baron that there is an island off the coast where decent people have settled, and are together striving to rebuild a new world together. He gives his word that he will get the seeds to them to continue Cal’s work, along with the Baron’s daughter and child to be.

The first part of the movie sets the scene of the plague decimated world environment, and dresses the screen stage of opposing factions fighting to survive in the dilapidated landscape of New York City. The second act plays out like condensed chapters of good and evil torn from the very bible itself !. A bleak yet intelligent story interwoven with a parable of hope, with the seed of life growing in the womb of a mother, and life giving seeds carried by a strong and good man to a new beginning !.


Yul Brynner puts in a solid performance, and Max Von Sydow delivers a consummate characterisation, in a decently developed production, well delivered under the experienced direction of Robert Clouse (Enter The Dragon 1973). William Smith plays the archetypal villain of the piece once again with screen stealing menace, soon leading him to one of the most memorable villainous roles ever as Falconetti in the epic television Best Sellers series Rich Man, Poor Man (1976).


Carson takes the seeds, and the Baron’s pregnant daughter surreptitiously away from the flailing colony, exiting underneath the compound, down into the long since dormant underground tube way system. Their departure does not however go unnoticed, and word soon reaches Carrot, who deploys his best trackers to stop their escape.

The underground setting is very well structured and dressed, convincingly portraying the look of a future ravaged period set almost forty years on from the films production back in 1975.

With a heavily pregnant young woman under his guardianship, and a band of thugs hunting him down, Carson has his hands full. Things get even tougher as the mother to be goes into early labour, and having to stop, in order to facilitate the birth, Carson must truly prove himself to be The Ultimate Warrior as Carrot himself catches up to them !.


Terrific stuff, and a movie that still holds up extremely well today. The role of Carson was as perfectly sculpted for the role of Yul Brynner as you could ever imagine, and it stands tall as an enduring representation to the quality of its genre and time. The visual introduction of Yul Brynner standing resplendent and proud, at the beginning of the movie, is a memorable tribulation to the screen presence of this movie great, and the gruelling conclusion to his fight with William Smith, as Carrot, is what good old fashioned, gutsy Action film making, is all about.


The Ultimate Warrior Movie Clip

Movie Details IMDB

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