Story: The planet is soaked in radiation after the horrors of World War III, but at least the television industry has remained up and running. The top show is Endgame, where humans don’t just compete for the audience’s entertainment, but they have to either hunt or survive, depending on which side of the show someone falls. Ron Shannon (Al Cliver) has become an iconic contestant on Endgame, surviving longer than anyone could have expected and he is an institution on the show, though the end is always just one bad decision off. The show is of course run by the corrupt government, so a small band of rebels have tried to work against Endgame, infiltrating its ranks and trying to bring down the propaganda machine from the inside. But even with that inside edge, can underground freedom fighters topple an establishment pillar like Endgame?
Entertainment Value: A colorful, post apocalyptic nightmare from the mind of Joe D’Amato, Endgame has wall to wall action, mutants, the magic of face paint, and George Eastman stalking the scenes like a lumbering madman. In case you can’t tell, I had a lot of fun with Endgame and I was surprised by how effective the action set pieces are here, as the scale is impressive and there’s action around every corner. I found the story to be fun, as it lets us experience an Italian exploitation take on The Running Man’s concept and that yields some real movie magic. The movie is packed with colorful, 80s style visuals and wild, diverse characters that make up those wonderful wasteland gangs, who do not shy away from face paint and I love that. The narrative is just here to unleash all the action and let George Eastman stomp around, which is fine by me. Endgame has all your action needs covered, from crazy shootouts to chases in wacky vehicles, explosions, and fist fights, as well as a lot of slow motion, multi shot sequences of the gangs slowly rolling up the streets. In the end, Endgame is a vivid, kinetic action movie that delivers a wild genre experience, earning it a high recommendation.
Quite a cast was assembled for this production, but we have to discuss George Eastman, even if he wasn’t the lead this time around. Eastman improves any movie he appears in and while a brutal scene of violence is his most memorable moment in Endgame, he is also fun to watch just doing regular non murder driven scenes. His interactions with Al Cliver are a highlight, as the script gives them a fun bond to explore and the two genre legends make the most of it. I could watch Eastman stalk around and cause chaos in any film and I was glad to see him in Endgame, as he brings energy and awkwardness to the picture, which is good news. Cliver is fine in the lead, though he is sometimes outshined by some of his costars, who have a little more spectacle in their performance. Laura Gemser also has a prominent role and as always, she steals some scenes and is in one of the more odd, uncomfortable sequences in Endgame, when she is taken prisoner by one of the bikers. The cast here also includes Gabriele Tinti, Gordon Mitchell, and Hal Yamanouchi.
The Disc: Severin Films launches Endgame onto Blu-ray with a new 2k scan sourced from the original negative, which delivers a visual treatment that surpassed all of my expectations. The print condition is good and the clean image really lets the depth shine, especially in closeups, where detail is striking and impressive. I knew Severin Films would do this cult classic justice, but I think this looks even better than fans likely anticipated. The extras include a fifteen minute interview with George Eastman about post nuke cinema, the film’s trailer, and the movie’s CD soundtrack.