• Warriors Of The Year 2072 (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Warriors Of The Year 2072 (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 25th, 2021.
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Al Cliver, Jared Martin, Fred Williamson, Howard Ross, Eleonora Brigliadori, Donald O'Brien, Cinzea Monreale
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Amazon

    Warriors Of The Year 2072 – Movie Review:

    Set in the year 2072 (maybe – it depends on which version you watch, but the Italian credits used for this version definitely do state 2072!), Lucio Fulci’s take on the post-nuke genre opens with a pretty cool scene where a few guys in funky costumes duke it out on motorcycles inside a strangely lit arena. It’s a pretty neat scene that sets into motion a seriously cool film.

    The story is set in a future were violence is commonplace in entertainment. Here there are two man television networks in constant competition for ratings – Seven Seas and WBS (The World Broadcasting System). The biggest show on any network, however, is Seven Seas’ Kill Bike, which we got a glimpse of in that opening sequence. Here, players from around the world don armor and mount motorcycles to compete against one another inside an arena in a winner takes all bout for cash and prizes.

    WBS has its own popular show dubbed The Danger Game. Here, players are hooked up to a strange device that puts them in a weird, but completely deadly, dream world where they have to fight to survive – think of it as an early eighties take on virtual reality and you’re on the right track. The show does well for the network but it can’t seem to unseat Kill Bike as the true ratings champion, at which point the powers that be at WBS decide it’s time to up the ante. An executive named Cortez (Claudio Cassinelli) is told to get to work on a show entitled The New Gladiators set inside The Roman Colosseum where twenty criminals who have been sentenced to death will fight their way out of a death sentence to entertain the masses. They also know that they'll need a hero much like Drake (Jared Martin), the reigning Kill Bike champion - in fact, maybe they just need to get Drake himself! Cortez gets some goons to murder Drake's wife and frame him as the killer, earning him a death sentence and, as such, a place on their new show. When Drake makes it to the set, he's almost instantly set upon by Akira (Hal Yamanouchi), who tries to kick his ass, but he befriends a trainer named Raven (Howard Ross), a pretty computer programmer named Sarah (Eleonora Brigliadori) and eventually fellow gladiator Abdul (Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson). Will Drake be able to prove his innocence without getting killed in the competition?

    Clearly influenced by Spartacus and Death Race 2000, there are a lot of strobing lights in this movie. In fact, Severin opens the film with a warning that the use of strobe lights in the film could be detrimental to people with epilepsy. Very likely an influence on The Running Man, the film definitely benefits from a great Riz Ortoloni score and plenty of radtastic motorcycle stunts throughout the movie. There are times where Fulci’s ambition can’t quite see eye to eye with reality – some Blade Runner-esque cityscapes done with miniatures are clearly… done with miniatures – but most of this works really well. Visually the film is pretty interesting, often times using some strangely artsy sequences in dimly lit rooms and some wild colored lighting to build atmosphere and, just maybe, hide the fact that the backgrounds on some of the sets look a little hokey. It works surprisingly well. The movie also features some great costumes for the heroes and plenty of bad guys in festishy leather outfits if that’s your kink. On top of that we get some trippy optical effects and an awesome face melting scenes.

    The cast is solid enough. Jared Martin, who has done tons of American TV work over the years but for the purposes of this review is one of the stars of Fulci’s Aenigma, doesn’t show the most range but he doesn’t need to. He looks good here and plays the hero well. Fred Williamson plays Fred Williamson, we wouldn’t’ want it any other way, while Howard Ross and Hal Yamanouchi play tough guys really well. Also be on the lookout for an amazing Al Cliver freakout scene, and cameos from Fulci himself and the beautiful Cinzia Monreale.

    Warriors Of The Year 2072 – Blu-ray Review:

    Warriors Of The Year 2072 comes to Region A Blu-ray from Severin Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85:1 widescreen with the feature given 27.6GBs of space on the 50GB disc. This transfer, supplied by Studio Canal (their logo precedes the feature), was taken from a new 4k scan of an interpositive print and it looks very nice here. Some scenes were shot a bit softer than others (the commentary notes that this movie was made during Fulci’s ‘diffusion period’!) but by and large the detail here is very strong. Colors look fantastic, the frequent use of colored lighting gels doing a nice job of bathing the actors and the sets in some very striking primary colors. There’s impressive depth and texture here, skin tones look nice and natural and never too pink and shadow detail is generally really good here too. There aren’t any noticeable problems to note with compression or edge enhancement and the picture itself is pristine, showing pretty much no print damage whatsoever. Needless to say, this blows the crappy old Troma DVD, released as The New Gladiators, out of the water.

    The 24-bit English DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, which comes with optional English SDH subtitles, is also very good. The score has some pretty strong depth to it and the dialogue is always easy to understand and follow. No problems with any hiss or distortion here to gripe about, the audio is nice and clean and it sounds stronger than you might expect an almost forty-year old mono mix to sound.

    Extras start off with another audio commentary with Mondo Digital's Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth, author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci & His Films. As is typical with their collaborations, they talk about some of the film's alternate titles (it was at one point going to be called Ben Hur Vs. Spartacus!) before then going on to talk about the strength of the opening scene, the cinematography, some of the horror and giallo style imagery that Fulci works into the movie, Fulci's relationship with the film's producers, the different cast and crew members that are involved with the production, some of the unusual visuals that the film uses, the use of strobe lights in the movie, the obvious homoerotic aspects in the film, where Fulci's career was at this point and how busy he was in the early eighties and plenty more.

    Severin has also loaded this release up with featurettes, starting with The Fulci Tapes, which is a series of recordings between Lucio Fulci and Michele Romagnoli. In this eleven-minute piece, Fulci talks about the splatter elements of his films, problems with Manhattan Baby, details on Warriors Of The Year 2072, how the critics responded to it, the way that the media is portrayed in that film, the use of miniatures in the film, how his films have been reevaluated over the years, the way that the advent of TV affected the Italian film industry and plenty of other topics. Fulci is amusingly blunt here, he doesn't hold back.

    Unloved interviews screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti for sixteen-minutes. This piece covers how he came to work on the film, his connections to Fulci, what their working relationship was like in the early eighties, how Fulci used elements from a script that was written for a different movie in this picture, how he feels that The Running Man really ripped off this film, budgetary restraints, the futuristic details featured in the movie, the production schedule, the decision to turn the movie into more of a giallo while they were working on it, Fulci's own feelings about the finished film and his own thoughts on the movie overall.

    In The Nicest Villain actor Howard Ross, who played Raven, is interviewed for eighteen-minutes regarding how he met Fulci, his thoughts on him as a director and as a person, working on The New York Ripper, what Fulci liked about his look and acting style, how he considered Fulci to be very talented and how he wound up appearing in 2072. He then goes on to talk about his costume, his thoughts on the movie and why he considers it a success, how Fulci treated everyone like family while on the set, his willingness to listen to suggestions, how tough some of the action and battle scenes were to shoot, the use of miniatures and effects in the movie, shooting certain scenes on a soundstage, exercising to prepare for certain scenes and more. He speaks very, very positively about his work on this film and about Fulci in general and he comes across as just about the nicest guy on the planet.

    The great Al Cliver is interviewed in The Good-Hearted Gladiator where he spends twelve-minutes talking about his work with Fulci. He talks about how he started acting to make money before then going on to talk about a few of his early roles. He then goes on to talk about how he met Fulci for the first time while working on Zombie, only to then go on and make a few other movies with the man. He says their relationship was a cat and mouse situation and that he was very unpredictable, and that sometimes it seems that he liked getting dirty and mucky. He notes that he heard Fulci didn't really believe in Zombie but that on set he seemed pretty committed to making it work, and that in the eighties it was tough to get work as the fil, industry started drying up in Italy. He also notes that he didn't like a lot of the more violent films he was involved in and felt violated after watching them!

    Antonella Fulci, the late director’s daughter, shows up in My Father, The Hero to speak for nineteen-minutes about how her father would test people he hadn't worked with before, how he would create backstories and nicknames for people without really knowing them and how he knew he had to change his style in the eighties to keep working. She also notes that he liked to have fun and that his impact on horror films is important. She talks about his way of looking at scripts and changing them to suit his needs, his sense of humor, his frequent use of effects in his movies and how his decades of experience made him better suited to make horror pictures than many of his contemporaries. She also talks about some of his later period works, some fondly and some not so fondly, noting that 2072 was a film he did for contractual obligations, his thoughts on sci-fi movies, his ability to make low budget films seem bigger than they were, how he worked his politics into the film, how he would distance himself from his films after finishing work on them, and how towards the end of his life he discovered how many fans he had and how much that meant to him.

    Photographing The Future interviews cinematographer Giuseppe Pinori for seventeen-minutes in a segment that goes over how he wound up on the movie despite not being a frequent Fulci collaborator, the difficulty of shooting motorcycle battles with all of the effects and lighting techniques required, shooting Murder Rock with him and the lighting effects used in that film, the shooting schedule, the demands on the electricians to keep the lighting rigs going, some of the locations used for the movie, what Fulci was like to work with, his own personal love of American cinema, trying to separate films he worked on from American movies so they didn't feel like knockoffs, his hands on approach to shooting, how some of the effects were done and how he feels about the movie overall.

    Lastly, Four Times Lucio interview actress and Fulci regular Cinzia Monreale for eight-minutes about how she first met Fulci, their early work together, what he was like to work with and how she had a great relationship with him despite his temper. She talks about what he was like as a person, his sense of humor, being with him in his later years, how he chose her for The Beyond without her ever having seen a script, shooting a few other movies with him and how he always strived to bring something new to each project.

    Aside from that, we get a trailer for the feature, menus (seriously cool menus, at that) and chapter selection, but included inside the keepcase with the Blu-ray disc is the film’s entire soundtrack (and four bonus tracks) on CD along with a cardboard postcard-sized insert that has the track listing and credits on one side and some nice one-sheet art on the reverse.

    Warriors Of The Year 2072 – The Final Word:

    Warriors Of The Year 2072 is a solid slice of futuristic cinematic mayhem. Fulci throws a lot of ideas up on the screen and most of them work quite well. It’s an ambitious film with a strong cast and some impressive visuals that are definitely easier to appreciate on this release thanks for a very strong presentation from Severin Films.

    Click on the images below for full sized Warriors Of The Year 2072 Blu-ray screen caps!