Shitty Movie Sundays: Equalizer 2000, or, Supergun!

Equalizer 2000 movie posterOne Mad Max ripoff wasn’t enough for Filipino filmmaker Cirio H. Santiago. After the sublime experience that was Wheels of Fire, Santiago went back to the well in 1987 for Equalizer 2000. It’s a movie about a man, his leather pants, and a bitchin’ gun.

From a story by Frederick Bailey and Joe Mari Avellana (who played the bad guy in Wheels of Fire), Equalizer 2000 follows Max Rockatansky analogue Slade (Richard Norton). Slade is a member of the Ownership, a militia group that is looking to control all of the gravel quarries in the post-apocalypse. They’re the typical baddies of a Mad Max ripoff. They wear black, drive tricked out muscle cars, and are very into pillaging settlements full of honest folk.

This isn’t the best origin for the hero of the story, but he becomes a good guy right about the time the evil Colonel Lawton (William Steis) decides to make a play for control of the Ownership, leaving Slade out to dry during a battle with rebels, and killing Slade’s dear old dad in the process. Slade survives, and vows revenge against Lawton and the Ownership.

Meanwhile, Slade isn’t the only hero. There’s a Mad Maxine in Karen (Corrine Wahl, who made her name in the soft-focused pages of Penthouse magazine), a chick tough enough to wander the wastes scrounging gasoline that she is willing to trade for rockets. There’s also a small group of highwaymen, including one with aspirations of leadership named Deke (Robert Patrick, in an early performance). These guys manage to show up in most of the important scenes of the movie, while contributing little to the plot. They are key, however, in extending this flick’s 85-minute running time.

Twists and turns lead Slade to Karen’s home settlement, where he sets his sights on this bad motherfucker:

The gun from Equalizer 2000


Yeah, just look at that. That’s a customized M16 with an underbarrel grenade launcher, and four additional barrels attached. Those extra barrels aren’t just for show, either. The two at the bottom make a hissing sound when Slade fires them, and the two at the top behave like the shotgun barrels that they are, but in the world of movies shoot out something that makes big booms.

Here’s another look, this time with Robert Patrick wielding the weapon:

Robert Patrick carrying the gun from Equalizer 2000


That is just insane. I’ve seen some very special weapons in shitty movies over the years, but this one still caught me by surprise. It ends up becoming this movie’s MacGuffin, with everyone and their mother chasing it down, convinced it is the key to controlling the wasteland. And it’s not like this desolate future is devoid of firearms. Everyone seems to have an M16, with unlimited ammo to boot. If there’s one thing Cirio Santiago believed in, it was firepower.

Just like in Wheels of Fire, there are more gunfights than one can count. The soundtrack is a never ending wall of gunfire sounds. And explosions. And engine sounds. It’s a total assault on the senses, and not a frame of it can be considered objectively good. Santiago does with this film what he always did — boil down the essentials of a genre into a sludge, densely packed with everything an action movie fan wants. To hell if any of it is digestible.

There is one glaring omission, though. In Wheels of Fire, Santiago made colossal demands on one of his actresses, with most of her screen time being topless. Here, viewers have a movie crying out for the kind of gratuitous nudity that matches Santiago’s silly action ambitions, to the point where a nude model is one of the stars, and there’s nary a nipple. What gives, Corinne? Trying to rise above your origins? In this movie?! Please.

In his way, Cirio H. Santiago was an artist. Maybe not that good of one, but he went out there year after year and made his movies, his way. Bad art is still infinitely preferable to no art. And, if it’s enjoyable to experience, all the better.

Equalizer 2000, like its earlier kin, is a very watchable shitty movie. The pace never lets up, the plot is ridiculous, the acting stinks, the locations are repetitive and lazy, there are some…unique…special effects shots, and all of this swirls together into something far better than what one will find in the lower depths of the Watchability Index. Equalizer 2000 displaces The Satanic Rites of Dracula in the #87 spot. Check it out.

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