Warriors of the Year 2072 - Warriors of the Year 2072 ( Blu Ray & CD) [Severin - 2021]
Released in the early 80’s Warriors of the Year 2072 was the 20th film directed by Luci Fulci. It saw him stepping away from gory and Lovecraft gothic tipped horror of his Gates of Hell trilogy for his take on then-popular dystopian action-packed Sci-fi. The film focuses on futuristic Rome, where TV networks rule peoples lives- and how one of them brings back gladiator games from the past, adding in armoured motorcycles and duels to the death in order to get the ratings up. Here from the folks at Severin is a double-disc release of the film- bringing together the film and its extras on the first Blu Ray, and on its second a CD soundtrack by Riz Ortolani.
Warriors of the Year 2072 (aka I guerrieri dell'anno 2072, The New Gladiators, Rome 2033 - The Fighter Centurions) appeared in the year 1984. And while it has its moments of Fulci great-ness, it's largely a fairly run-of-the-mill euro cheese feast from the 80’s- bringing together revering ‘n’ armoured motorbikes, cocky against the odd’s macho men heroes, shoulder-padded and big-haired nasty TV executives, and low grade/ on the cheap Blade Runner city visuals.
The film kicks off by introducing us to the man of the moment Duke (Jared Martin) long-time champion of the network topping Death Bikes TV series, who has just got wed to a Hollywood star. One of the other networks gets jealous of his star power, so they decide to launch a new show- a more brutal, motorized and to the death take the gladiator games of the past, though what we largely get is more like motorbike jousting.
Unfortunately, one night Duke returns home to find his wife been murdered by a group of three suited, booted, and whistling men- next thing we know he’s been charged for their murder and is set to play in the new gladiator games with other criminals. As the film unfolds, we see Duke, and his fellow gladiators bickering, training and even attempting to escape from their underground holding cells. With the other fighters taking in the likes of thin yellow Banda wearing Abdul (Fred William’s), always seemingly getting beaten up Kirk(Fulci regular Al Cliver), and cold ‘n’ calculating oriental Akira( Hal Yamanouchi). On the baddie/ TV network side we have sleek-if-often sweaty TV exec Cortez (Claudio Cassinelli), shifty never seen in the flesh Sam(Giovanni Di Benedetto), and sure something dodgy is going on Susan(Valeria Cavalli).
Most of the film's highlights come in the first hour or so of the film. First off, we have an impressive pit and pendulum-like decapitation, the already mentioned murder of Duke's wife where she gets creepingly surrounded in her light pulsing house before getting her throat sliced. And the very neat training sequences montage- where the fighters battle their fears to a backdrop of white pulsing strobe and rising electric guitar/ keys. On the less positive side of things- the motorbikes/ amour/ fighters get up is cliched. We get a fair bit of soapy sci-fi banter, and the final race/ battle is somewhat underwhelming. Another letdown is that it’s not that gory or even creative considering it a Fulci film- we get a few decapitations, a bloody throat slice, and some stabbings. On the whole Warriors of the Year 2072 is a passable/ entertaining enough example of the dystopian action-packed Sci-fi cycle of the 1980’s- but as a Fulci film it’s certainly in the lower levels of his output, so really you’ll need to be a fan euro Sci-fi cheese.
Moving onto this region A locked Blu Ray- and we get a nice 4K scan, and this has its pluses and negatives- for the former we get nice crisp definition, with the gore & some of the effects coming out well, but on the latter side the sets look a little shaky/ naff as do some of the effects. Moving onto the extras on the disc- and we get a good selection of stuff. First, off we have a commentary track from Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions – Lucio Fulci & His Films, and as you expect with these two pros, you get a very well researched & entertaining track. They start off by discussing the films titles complicated title history, they talk about the films use of defusing and set rack focus- which was typical of this period in Fulci’s career. They give informative bit part bios, discuss the score by Riz Ortolani which was his third for a Fulci film. They move onto the film’s possible influences and similar films. Later on, they chat about the films less than stellar performance at the box offices, when it played. They discuss Fulci’s daughter Camila- who worked on the crew of the film, the films screenwriters, and lots more. Easily a track you could play a few times.
Otherwise, on the extra front, we get a good selection of interviews- there’s The Fulci Tapes- an audio-only interview with the director from 1989. And we get the following on-screen interviews: Unloved: Interview with Screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti(15.50) The Nicest Villain: Interview With ‘Raven’ Howard Ross(17.49), The Good-Hearted Gladiator: Interview With Actor Al Cliver(12.15), My Father, The Hero: Interview With Antonella Fulci(19.00), Photographing the Future: Interview With Cinematographer Giuseppe Pinori(7.11), Four Times Lucio: Interview with Actress Cinzia Monreale( 7.58). And a trailer so a good selection of extra.
The other disc in the set is a soundtrack CD- this comes with a glossy inlay card, which features track listings on one side & film poster work on the other. The soundtrack is by Pesaro, Marche, Italy born score composer Riz Ortolani- whom of course was known for a fair few classic euro genre scores like So Sweet... So Perverse, Cannibal Holocaust, and House on the Edge of the Park. The CD takes in nineteen tracks- fifteen from the score, and four bonus tracks. And the score moves between dramatic pulsing synths, percussion and horn work led cues. Onto more sci-fi spacy synth-based affairs, though to galloping and dramatic guitar meets horn mixes and more atmospheric and moody cues. On the whole, it’s a varied and rewarding enough score- with both memorable and mood fitting cues.
It’s great to see Severin continuing their release schedule of lesser-seen/ lesser-known Fulci films- and once again the company give us a rewarding selection of extras, as well of course the CD soundtrack. Not the best of Falco filmography, but it has its moments- so certainly of interest to either serious fans of the director's work and/ or euro sci-fi cheese. Roger Batty