APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 22: The Ultimate Warrior (1975)

There had been post-apocalyptic movies before — End of the World came out in 1916 — and the genre was already a big deal by 1975, following The Omega Man and Soylent Green. So when most people believe that end of the world movies started in 1979 with Mad Max, they’d been around long before.

The Ultimate Warrior is pretty much a western — all good post-apocalyptic movies are — with a frontier town under attack. That town would be a small fort in what’s left of New York City, a place led by Baron (Max Von Sydow). One of his followers is a former scientist named Cal (Richard Kelton), who has developed plague resistant seeds that grow in the dead soil, creating a desert in the wasteland.

And, just like every western — and again, post-apocalyptic movie — there are gangs of bad people making the lives of good people hard. One of those gangs is led by Carrot (William Smith!) and Baron is so worried about them that he hires on a loner gunslinger — or fighter — named Carson (Yul Brynner).

Even with his abilities, the settlement is still doomed. So Baron sends his pregnant daughter Melinda (Joanna Miles) away from the citty with the goal of building a new world on a North Carolina island. But escaping the city isn’t easy and it costs nearly everyone their lives and Carson his hand, but the ultimate warrior is nothing if not resilient. Or deadly.

Director and writer Robert Clouse knew how to make a movie with fights as the main draw, as he directed Enter the Dragon and Game of Death with Bruce Lee, as well as Black Belt Jones with Jim Kelly, Golden NeedlesForce: FiveThe Big Brawl with Jackie Chan, Gymkata with Kurt Thomas, two China O’Brien movies with Cynthia Rothrock and Ironheart with Bolo Yeung. He also made the animal attack movies The Pack and the rats on the loose film Deadly Eyes.

And yes, this movie is where the wrestler got his name from.

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