Battletruck (also known as Warlords of the 21st Century and Destructors in Italy) is a 1982 New Zealand post-apocalyptic science fiction action film co-written and directed by Harley Cokliss and starring Michael Beck, Annie McEnroe, James Wainwright, John Ratzenberger, and Bruno Lawrence.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Harley Cokliss|
|Produced by||Lloyd Phillips|
|Written by||Michael Abrams|
|Music by||Kevin Peek|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
|Box office||$3,000,000 USD ($7,788,620.69 in today's currency)|
Set in the aftermath of a devastating thermonuclear war, the plot is a futuristic tale of collapsed governments and bankrupt countries heralding a new lawless age. A co-production between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, it was filmed on location in New Zealand and starring a number of local actors, and was part of a wave of similarly-themed films made in the wake of the success of the Mad Max series.
In the near future, Earth has been devastated by a thermonuclear war over the depleting petroleum reserves. What little petrol remains has become a precious commodity fought over by vicious warlords and mercenaries. A war party led by Straker (James Wainwright) find a vast supply of diesel fuel in a compound once thought to be radioactive. When his daughter Corlie (Annie McEnroe) refuses to execute the previous owners, she runs away from her father's base camp. Fleeing through the open desert, she runs into Hunter (Michael Beck), an ex-soldier armed with a high-tech motorbike, who takes her to shelter at his farm.
After keeping her on the farm on a temporary basis, Hunter sends her off to live in the walled city of Clearwater Farm, governed by a strict old-fashioned democracy, where she is quickly accepted by the community. However, she is soon discovered by her father's men, who move to attack the Clearwater community. In the chaos that ensues, Corlie manages to escape back to Hunter's remote hideout.
The mercenaries terrorise and pillage the city. Straker tortures the resident mechanic Rusty (John Ratzenberger) into giving him the location of Hunter's secret hideout. Straker moves to attack Hunter's base and recapture Corlie. Hunter and Corlie escape on his bike and Straker, in a rage, plows through Hunter's residence with his truck. Hunter takes Corlie back to the Clearwater people and asks Rusty to build him an armored car to attack Straker's "battletruck". While Rusty and Hunter and a few others are thus occupied, one of the residents turns traitor and knocks out Coralie, putting her in a wagon and heads out to deliver her back to Straker. Hunter tries to stop him, but the traitor sets an ambush for him and wounds him with a crossbow. Believing that he has killed Hunter, he appears at Straker's headquarters with Corlie in the wagon.
Meanwhile, Hunter regains consciousness and manages to limp back to Clearwater on his bike. While getting patched up there, Rusty finishes the armored car and shortly Hunter takes off in it, despite the fact that he is wounded. He attacks Straker's HQ, plowing through buildings and tents and eventually dropping a grenade into Straker's 50,000 litre diesel supply. He then runs and Straker, now in a towering rage, takes off after him. In the process, he forces the driver to overdo it in the truck, overheating the turbines. This stresses out the driver, (who loves the truck), and leads to dissension between him and Straker. Hunter meanwhile gets some distance ahead, jumps out of the car and climbs to a high place overlooking the road and it is now revealed that the whole attack on Straker's HQ was a ruse to lure the truck into an ambush. The Clearwater people are at the high place waiting for Hunter with his motorcycle and a rocket launcher which Hunter had given them earlier in the movie. Hunter fires a couple of rockets at the truck, one causes slight damage and a small fire, which causes more stress between Straker and the truck driver. The driver attempts to kill Straker, who he feels is uselessly destroying the truck. Straker kills the driver, who slumps over the wheel and now the truck, throttles set to full, is more or less out of control.
Back on the bike again, Hunter manages to jump onto the truck through a hole in the top that one of his rockets had made. A battle ensues, the truck still careening wildly back and forth while Corlie tries to control it with the body of the driver slumped over the wheel and Straker furiously shouting commands to everybody. Eventually, Hunter fights his way to the front, temporarily stuns Straker, grabs Corlie, and jumps with her from the back of the still wildly out of control battle truck with Straker in the truck as he is still screaming, making death threats, and bumbling about the smoking ruins of the interior of the truck before it falls off a cliff as it crashes and explodes to kill him.
Hunter and Corlie end up back at Clearwater, where Corlie apparently settles for good as part of the community. Ever the loner, Hunter rides off into the sunset on a horse, promising Corlie that he will be back "sometime".
Battletruck was filmed on the Central Otago plains in New Zealand. Despite being produced by a Hollywood studio and being considered a Hollywood release, the film largely used New Zealand crew and actors. It followed the success of films such as Mad Max and was made in New Zealand in part due to the 1981 Writers Guild of America strike.
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- "Battletruck". nzonscreen.com. Retrieved 5 August 2014.