STEEL FRONTIER was the first of his two films, hitting video store shelves in March 1995. Now stop me if you've heard this one before – a post-nuke town is filled with folks struggling to survive and beat back a bunch of motor-crazed psychos who rape and pillage their way across the wasteland. The violent group in question is known as The Death Riders and they are led by the psychotic leader Lord Humong…er, General J.W. Quantrell (Brion James). You know he is a psycho because as his gang raids the town in question, he goes to the barber to get a shave. After shooting anyone who won’t join his gang, Quantrell installs his son Julies (James C. Victor) as the town’s de facto leader, with the unexcitable Roy Ackett (an unexcited Bo Svenson) as the real muscle and brains behind it all. Trouble arrives in the form of Yuma (Joe Lara), a stranger who rides into town and immediately humiliates Julies with his sharpshooting skills. The stranger joins the gang and eventually plays them off each other to achieve his goal of anarchy within the group to free the town. Yup, we've got a post-apocalyptic YOJIMBO (1961) on our hands, with a heavy helping of THE ROAD WARRIOR (1982) about 13 years too late.
Yuma - man of action...and chicken legs!
The film wastes no time getting down to the action as first-day-on-the-job cop Decoda (Lara) and his veteran partner Wes Strickland (John Amos) are blasting it out with some thugs in futuristic Los Angeles (which looks a lot like mid-90s L.A.). They’re trying to find out the nefarious plans of “Slash” Gallager (Evan Lurie, who also co-wrote the screenplay) and, sure enough, one goon squeals about how Slash plans to assassinate the Governor Hampton (Alex Cord). Decoda and Strickland get assigned to the Governor’s security detail and, sure enough again, Slash and his goons attack, resulting in a car/bus/limo chase that is the film’s highlight. During the chaos, both the Governor and Strickland are killed, but Decoda still gets his man and Slash is sentenced to “holographic stasis.” Five years later, the once bright-eyed Decoda is a beaten down and cynical man. How is this conveyed? He has a beard! Anyway, thanks to help from his gang, Slash’s virtual form is released from cyberspace and given a physical form (in the form of a “morph polymer” that can even recreate his terrible cornrows). Decoda is on the case, but when he gets killed during an explosion he too must be placed into the cyber world and fight Slash on his own terms.
Evan Lurie's acting:
Joe Lara reacts to Evan Lurie's acting:
Nouri (as a seedy politician), William Sanderson (as a computer programmer named J.F. Sebastian…uh, I mean, Giggles), Nicholas Worth (as a Slash crony sporting an eye patch), and Tiny Lister (as a Slash gang member named Eightball!). That cast alone make is worth seeing at least once. Just don’t go in expecting PM’s greatest film. One of PM’s biggest mistakes during their tenure was placing the film’s best action scene in the opening and HOLOGRAM MAN is definitely one of those. It is a pretty insane limo vs. passenger bus chase scene where the bus is shorn its top half thanks to an overpass (located near Pepin Road, haha). After that slam-bang opening, the rest of the film relies mostly on shootouts and, as a result, pales in comparison. I’m sure HOLOGRAM MAN was born when PM execs read in Variety how virtual reality was the future of the movie industry (a fad that died almost as quickly as it was born, much to Brett Leonard’s chagrin). Their concept of cyber space is funny (apparently computers will house your holographic image in a white leotard) and you have to laugh at how they shoehorn in a virtual reality CGI bit with a scene where Decoda brushes on his shooting skills.