Early Screener Revew: Road Wars (2015)


When an amnesiac wakes up in a desert-covered post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a rabies-type virus, he must band together with a small group of survivors.

REVIEW: It's no secret that here at the B-Movie Shelf my favorite B-Movie production company is The Asylum. Their movies may not always be the best-made, but they are almost always a hell of a lot of fun, and really, being entertained is the main reason I love watching movies as much as I do. Regardless of quality, as long as I'm entertained and have a good time watching a movie, than I'm loving it. Suffice to say, you can see how I'd be stoked for each new Asylum release as soon as it's announced, and luckily once in awhile I'll be graced enough to receive a screener copy before the official release, as was the case with Asylum's latest Mad Max mockbuster, Road Wars.


Road Wars is more than just a Mad Max mockbuster. Sure, it has all the regular stereotypical Mad Max ingredients, such as a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, characters with classic 'futuristic' 80's style clothing and hair styles wearing various facepaint, thick round sandstorm goggles, custom helmets and headgear with horns and the like on them, driving around in decked out battle vehicles filled with spikes and various weaponry, in addition to rival desert gangs going to battle with one another. Make no mistake, this is a Mad Max mockbuster through and through. However Road Wars has one further ingredient that you'll be hard pressed to find in a Mad Max movie – Vampiric zombie creatures!

Yes, this movie spices things up and sets itself apart from the abundance of other Mad Max knock-offs by adding in the danger of vampiric zombie creatures! Now I'm actually getting sick of zombies being in every single thing this day in age, however with Road Wars they include a fresh little twist. I hesitate to call these things either zombies or vampires, as they only come out at night, sunlight burns them, they drink blood - all things that a vampire does, however they act and move around like the typical Hollywood zombie, and if one bites you then it isn't long before you succumb and turn into one yourself, going through the motions that a regular zombie victim would usually do when bit. They call these creatures Nightwalkers in the movie, but for the purpose of this review I've personally come accustomed to calling them Zombires. And they don't just show up in one or two scenes, ohhh nooo, they're pretty much the main focus of the movie, showing up either one at a time or in large groups consistently throughout the movie, hindering our characters at every turn. There's even a pretty fun, albeit short, scene where the characters locate a Zombire nest in an underground cavern and head on down during the day to hunt them while they assumed they were asleep. Even the backstory on why the world is not a post apocalyptic wasteland ties into the whole Zombire virus outbreak, so it's not like Zombires were just added into the movie randomly and serve no real purpose, like is so often the case with other movies of this kind these days.


Actually, along the lines of tying the Zombire outbreak into the desert wasteland setting of the world, this movie does a phenomenal job at world building in general via it's dialogue; it really does feel like this is a pre-existing fully-realized universe and we're just popping in to view this one moment or event before popping back out again at the end of the movie's runtime while the rest of this universe continues moving on without us. However, the one aspect I don't quite get, though I'm willing to overlook it for the sake of the whole Mad Max mockbuster angle, is that there's all these characters driving around in vehicles and getting into vehicular chases and battles...so where the hell are they finding all this fuel for these vehicles? Sure, there was one scene near the beginning that had a couple charcaters scoping out a gas station, but with the amount of desert tribes that seem to be mentioned throughout, plus the ones that we actually see, plus all the vehicles everyone seems to own and the amount they drive them...how can fuel be this plentiful this far after the apocalypse, yet drinking water is so incredibly rare and scarce? Just a minor nitpick, but one worth mentioning since it crossed my mind on more than one occasion while watching.

Certainly not a nitpick though is the actors and characters on display here. All these characters were unique and easy to tell apart from one another (something that you sometimes run into issues with in these Mad Max ripoffs), and the movie does a great job at really making you care about what happens to these folks, going so far as to actually be genuinely emotional when they get killed off, no matter if they were around for half the movie or only in one or two scenes prior, there's an emotional backbone to this movie that I was surprised to find, but glad I did as I'll never, ever, complain about a movie, especially a B-Movie (where I don't really expect it from) to have genuine emotion in it like this. And trust me, it really won't be long into the movie before you start feeling that attachment to these characters, and that also goes a long way to making the action scenes a bit more tense than they normally would be, because you really don't want to see any of these characters get offed. While some of that can be attributed to the writing and directing of Asylum-regular Mark Atkins, a large round of applause has to also go to the actors themselves for turning in such great performances. You can have the best writing and directing in the world, but if the actors aren’t up to snuff than any emotional impact goes right out the window, but every single actor in this movie turned in top-notch performances and left me highly impressed.

And oh yes, there is plenty of action scenes, as while there is a shortage of drinking water in this movie, there is certainly no shortage of antagonists, from the plentiful blood-drinking Zombire creatures to the mischievous rival desert raider gangs, there's tons of obstacles for our band of characters to go up against throughout the movie, so suffice to say things never get dull or boring in this one at all, and all the action scenes here are tons of fun to watch. Anybody that enjoys gunplay will certainly have a blast with most of the action scenes as, much like with fuel in this world, the characters seem to have no problem at all getting their hands on ammunition. Not that I'm complaining, because lack of ammo would have meant less awesome action scenes.There's even a really great unexpected twist that I didn't see coming, which leads to the climatic action set piece of the movie and is easily my favorite of the action scenes as all chaos breaks out and it pretty much becomes a free-for-all where pretty much anyone can and does switch sides.


Fans of Asylum's work will certainly no doubt love Road Wars as much as I did, and even if you aren't someone that usually likes Asylum films I still suggest giving this one a shot as it was a step above the usual Asylum fare. The only aspect of it that kind of bothered me a bit, and the only real complaint I have, is that the ending is horribly abrupt and sudden, leaving me kind of feeling like "Wait, that's it?" It comes out of nowhere so quickly that it almost feels like the actual ending was cut out of the movie, going straight from the middle of the climax into the end credits.

Still, when that's the only complaint I have, than that's not too shabby at all. With Hansel vs Gretel, Bound (review still to come), Avengers Grimm, and now Road Wars, it seems like Asylum has another great year in store for us, especially with San Andreas Quake coming later this month and Mega Shark vs Kolossus, 3-Headed Shark Attack, and of course Sharknado 3 having all already been announced for the month of July. As for Road Wars, you can check this one out for yourself on DVD and VOD services as of this Tuesday, which is May 5th.

9/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward




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