“He is the desert warrior, carving the future with his

Entire Story in Fewer Words than are in this Sentence:
Patrick Swayze stands on his head for freedom.

Swayze always did his best to cater to the leather crowd, and he tips his cap once again to those who need to see him in tight pants and glorious chaps.  There’s a great deal of padding going on in the crotch area as well, and our hero is blissfully bronzed, rippled, and beaded with sweat while swinging heavy equipment under the hot sun. Thankfully, Swayze also has an extended bathing scene, where we not only spend a great deal of time staring at this chest, but get to hear the line, “What’s the matter? Never seen a grown man naked?” Of course, he’s surrounded by dusty hunks at the time. There’s also the bit part of the village doctor who is an even gayer version of Jamie Farr, but he’s overwhelmed by the villain who is a dead ringer for Nikki Sixx. He has several lengthy battles with Swayze, including a climactic clash of orgasmic proportions. The pair heave, huff, growl, and flex, all while poking, prodding, jabbing, and thrusting.  The film is also kind enough to include hay carts and a windmill, giving the two lovers ample opportunity to fall to the ground in ejaculatory despair. Swayze manages to receive a brutal gash near the groin, but he triumphs with a savage blow to his rival’s heart.  Boys, you’ve earned those cigarettes.

Corpse Count:
Sixteen filthy beasts are dispatched in the film’s 101 minutes, including at least one decapitation and a knife to the throat. The unfortunate bastard who received the blade also fell back into razor wire, further enhancing the bloodlust.

How bad was it really?
The opening sequence set the stage, as Swayze spends at least ten minutes fighting off demented sand creatures with swords, somersaults, and a karate chop or two. Eight poor saps are sent to their maker during the battle, and Swayze manages to keep a straight face throughout while looking eerily like Frank Stallone.  There’s another ridiculous scene involving the head baddie, an old fop who wants water and will stop at nothing to get it. So when he rides into the village to scare everyone shitless, what does he do? Why, he has his henchmen overturn a large barrel filled with burning trash! But why single out a particular character? This is one of the era’s silliest efforts, complete with atrocious dialogue, pitiful acting (the worst of all by Swayze’s wife, who clearly slept through her cue card classes), and an awkward romance so lifeless that it all but forces the audience to conclude that heterosexual intercourse is worse than a root canal. And did I mention that, once again, Swayze’s character is into meditation? As such, he stands on his head to clear away the demons. Fine, I guess I’ll give you some sample dialogue as well:  “You’re a big, fat, slimy pig!”  “Do you ever wonder what people did before the sandstorms?”  “Before you fight, you must first learn to meditate.”  “You used to be faster!” “You used to have hair.”   “It’s not you, it’s me! I attract violence!”

Post-Mortem One-Liner:
After a laughable sand boat race involving a young boy and at least two pirate-like bad guys, the one dude wearing pounds of eyeliner is slammed in the chest by a massive blade. Assessing the situation with a cold eye, Swayze announces, “I told you not to play with sharp objects.”

Stupid Political Content:
In a decade full of pro-Reagan idolatry, Steel Dawn is rather subdued politically. Sure, we can assume that liberals appeased the Soviets, brought about nuclear war, and gave us a post-apocalyptic planet, but there’s less overt grandstanding than we’d come to expect. Still, this is the desert and whites are fighting ethnic types for a precious resource, so perhaps this is a blueprint for Operation Desert Storm. But as our hero risks it all for a hot mom and her Aryan son, this could just as easily be the ultimate triumph of the hard right of the political spectrum.

Novelty Death:
During the opening fight, Swayze sticks his sword deep into the sand, a cry is heard, blood flows, and he finally pulls out his blade, which is remarkably shiny and clean. What on earth did he kill down there?  Still, kudos are in order for anyone who can look out on 100,000 square miles of endless desert and find the one spot where evil lurks.

What You Learned:
Crimped hair and mullets remain fashionable well into the 23rd century. And fuck, man, the Reagan years were kind to foley artists. Very kind.

About Matt

Matt is the site’s Longest Serving Critic and chief misanthrope. He divides his time between classics of cinema and the most ridiculous movies he can find on Redbox.
Follow Matt: @mattcale52