Steel Frontier (1995)

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the town of New Hope is the last safe haven for righteous people to rebuild civilization. The town is invaded and terrorized by General Quantrill’s posse “United Regime”. Lone gunman Yuma arrives shortly after, and gets enmeshed in the fight between the town people and Quantrill’s motorized gangsters.

The prolific PM Entertainment group flooded the home video market in the 1990s with cheap action films and thrillers. Steel Frontier may seem like another of those action schlock flicks, but it turns out to be a far above average production for PM standards, and a pretty entertaining B-movie on its own. While the plot is another ripoff of movies like The Road Warrior, the hybrid Western/post-apocalypse setting was not too common in the 1990s. In any case, Steel Frontier is a solid production on several levels. It moves at a good pace with plenty of action and other thrills, has a nice variety of sets, and only slightly cheesy dialogues.

Maybe not surprisingly, the action scenes are the best part of the movie. We get car chases through the desert à la Mad Max, plenty of shootouts, and overall a satisfyingly large amount of crashes and explosions. We’re also treated with some traditional wild-west style duels, and even a tavern brawl. The highlight of the action set pieces is the detonation of a huge chimney in an abandoned industrial complex. This explosion looks truly amazing with an actual mushroom cloud, and must have been the largest item that had the honor of being blown up in a PM movie.

The acting, while not spectacular, is never embarrassing. The lead role is taken by Joe Lara, who had some success with a number of direct-to-video action movies in the 1990s, and who is also a self-proclaimed prolific musician, falconer, pilot and ex-model. He may not be the best actor, but he has good natural charisma, and fits well into his his role as stoic bounty hunter. And the participation of B-movie specialist Brion James also adds to the charm of the movie. As main villain, he’s actually not in the movie a whole lot, but when he shows up he kicks ass as usual. The movie is also filmed rather competently with some good sets of the run-down village (including a giant tire junkyard that looks pretty awesome) and atmospheric takes of the surrounding desert.

Steel Frontier is an entertaining genre mash-up with a coarse and goofy charm. And if you can find pleasure in an excess of explosions and car stunts, you will have found one of the best movies from PM Entertainment in that respect.

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