(Endgame – Bronx Lotta Finale)
Director – Steven Benson [Joe D’Amato], Screenplay – Alex Carver [Aldo Fiorio], Story –Steven Benson & Alex Carver, Photography – Federico Slonisco, Music – Carlo Maria Cordio, Special Effects – James Davies, Robert Gold & Peter Gray, Production Design – Robert Connors. Production Company – Filmirage.
Al Cliver (Ron Shannon), Moira Chen [Laura Gemser] (Lilith), George Eastman (Kurt Karnack), Jack Davis [Dino Conti] (Professor Levin), Al Yamanouchi (Ninja), Mario Pedona (Kovack), Gus Stone [Gabriele Tinti], (Bull), Gordon Mitchell (Colonel Morgan), Christopher Walsh (Tommy), Bobby Rhodes (Woody Smith)
The year 2025 after the collapse of civilisation. Ron Shannon is the champion in the televised gladiatorial sport of Endgame where he is hunted by other competitors and must kill them to win. In the midst of the competition, he is approached by Lilith, a telepathic mutant, asking his help. Shannon wins the game but refuses to kill his best friend Karnack. Afterwards Professor Levin makes Ron the offer of a substantial payment of gold if he will escort a group of mutants away from the city, where they are hunted by the militia, and across the wasteland to freedom. Shannon accepts and recruits a team of tough fighters to join him. They set out, hunted by the city’s security forces and the mutant crazies of the wasteland.
Mad Max 2 (1981) created a large wave of copycat films, all featuring crazies engaged in car chases in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and emulating the same junkyard chic. (For greater detail see After the Holocaust Films), Nobody latched onto making low-budget Mad Max copies like the Italians who made the likes of 2020: Texas Gladiators (1982), The Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983), The New Barbarians (1983), Rush (1983), 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983), The Final Executioner (1984), Rage (1984) and Rome 2072 A.D. (1984). In the Italian, Endgame was subtitled Bronx Lotta Finale (Bronx Final Fight), suggesting that it was made as a copycat entry in Enzo G. Castellari’s duo of futuristic action films 1990 – The Bronx Warriors (1982) and Bronx Warriors 2 (1983) from around this same period.
Hiding behind the Anglicised name of Steven Benson is director Joe D’Amato. D’Amato is regarded as the most prolific Italian film director of all time, having made nearly 200 films between the 1970s and his death in 1999. Throughout his three decade career, D’Amato hid behind over a dozen pseudonyms and worked in many genres, although it is for his extensive output of erotic/pornographic films that he is best known. (See below for Joe D’Amato’s other genre films).
The early sections of Endgame depict televised gladiatorial games with Al Cliver as the champion in a hunt where he must eliminate the other competitors to win. The games are not that well directed – a few fights that take place in an alley setting (and oddly enough for a televised sport with no tv cameras present). This is however one of the first screen depictions of the theme of televised gladiatorial combat. There had been the earlier satirical The Tenth Victim (1965) and the little-seen Punishment Park (1971). Ahead there would be works like The Prize of Peril (1983), The Running Man (1987) and the huge hit of The Hunger Games (2012). This, as far as I can tell, was the first of them to depict televised games. (For greater detail see Films About Human Bloodsports and Death Games).
D’Amato is purported to have said that Endgame was the favourite of his films. I can only assume that this is something to do with his experience on set rather than the quality of the film. D’Amato has made much better films – I have a particular liking for Blue Holocaust (1979) – and Endgame is routine as these mid-80s Italian post-holocaust films go. The various action scenes once we get out into the desert are not too badly choreographed – the motorbike scenes come with a degree of vigorous enthusiasm. On the other hand, there is really nothing more to the film on any level beyond the provision of serial action scenes.
The film was directed by Joe D’Amato (1936-99), a prolific director in the Italian exploitation industry whose career was predominantly in pornographic films (including a number of the other Black Emanuelle films and several other films starring Laura Gemser). He made over 200 films and is known under a variety of different pseudonyms. His other genre films include:- the giallo Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973), the erotic/cannibal films Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) and Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978), the necrophilia film Blue Holocaust (1979), Anthropophagus/The Grim Reaper (1980), the erotic/zombie film Erotic Night of the Living Dead (1980), the erotic/voodoo/cannibal film Sex and Black Magic (1980), Absurd (1981), the erotic/zombie film Porno Holocaust (1981), the sword and sorcery films Ator the Invincible (1982) and Ator the Blade Master (1984), the post-holocaust film 2020: Texas Gladiators (1984), the Ator film Quest for the Mighty Sword (1989), Frankenstein 2000 (1992), Contamination .7/Creepers/Troll 3 (1993), the pornographic reincarnation film Chinese Kamasutra (1993), the pornographic Ghosts in the Castle (1994), the pornographic Marquis de Sade (1994), the pornographic Tarzan X (1994) and its sequel Tarzhard: The Return (1998), the pornographic ghost film Erotic Bluff (1995), the pornographic caveman film Homo Erectus (1996), the pornographic psycho-thriller Primal Instinct (1996), Hell’s Angels/Demons of Lust (1997), Hell’s Angels 2/The Seven Sexy Sins (1997) and Hell’s Angels 3/The Devil’s Lair (1998), a series of pornographic vignettes set in Hell, the pornographic Greek myth films Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (1997), Hercules: A Sex Adventure (1997), Olympus, Refuge of Gods (1997), Samson in Amazon’s Land (1997), The Sexual Adventures of Ulysses (1998) and Love and Psyche (2000), Kamasutra (1997), a pornographic film with fantasy elements, the pornographic Queen of Elephants (1997) about a female Tarzan, a pornographic version of the story of the Phantom of the Opera with Phantom (1998), Elixir (1998), a pornographic film involving a youth serum, Eternal Desire (1996), a pornographic version of Highlander (1986), and Experiences (1999) and Experiences 2 (1999) about a woman sucked through her computer to participate in a series of erotic interludes across time.