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2019: After The Fall Of New York
(a.k.a. After The Fall Of New York)
(1983)

Director: Sergio Martino
Cast:
Michael Sopkiw, Valentine Monnier, Anna Kanakis


Decades ago, a few years before I entered my adolescent period, I became a member of the Cub Scouts. It didn't take me long to discover that I was just as unwelcome among my peers there as when I was outside, but unfortunately I was stuck there. I also found I didn't like the codes and lessons taught by the Scouts for the most part. But I did pick up one bit of advice that I admit I found very useful and always kept in the back of my mind for the years that followed. And that bit of advice was, "Be prepared." That bit of advice has saved me from a good amount of potential hardship over the years. For instance, I knew that if I wanted to get a good job, the right way to prepare would be to get a good education. With that education, I have managed to more easily find jobs than many of my uneducated peers. But I am always under preparation. For example, a long time ago I learned that a major earthquake will (not might) eventually strike the area where I currently live. Since learning about that fact, I have taken big steps in order to prepare myself for that day. I have moved into an earthquake resistant apartment building. I have stocked my cupboards with a good amount of canned and other non perishable food. I have gotten a good number of empty two litre soda bottles, filled them with water, and placed them under my kitchen sink should an earthquake cut off the water supply. I have also gotten into my possession a flashlight that can be recharged by turning a crank or with solar power. And I always make sure I have enough cash in my possession should banks and bank machines be shut down after the earthquake.

Though I am prepared for the day an earthquake hits, I have obviously also thought long and hard about the days that would follow, when my city would begin the long recovery process. I feel I should add that earthquakes are not the only potential disaster I am prepared for - I am also prepared for fires, floods, and tsunamis, among other things. However, there is one potential disaster that I must confess that I am unprepared for, and that is a nuclear holocaust. Oh, I guess I sort of know how I should prepare. I should move out of my bustling city to the countryside, build a bunker with thick enough concrete walls to ward off the radiation, and stock it with a lot of food, weapons, and other supplies. But I simply at this point of my life don't have the resources to accomplish all of those things. And then there is the problem when eventually, after all my food and supplies were to run out, I would have to go outside and try to gather more of those things. And by then, most of those things would have either been nuked or stolen by desperate scavengers.  I would have to become a desperate scavenger myself, and right now I don't have the guts to even yell at a driver of a car who cuts right in front of my path. And needless to say, the atmosphere would be full of radiation, and more likely than not I would soon get sick and suffer a long and lingering death. To tell the truth, part of me would rather go down immediately and permanently if a nuclear holocaust were to happen. Maybe that's why I have settled down downtown in a city that would be a prime nuclear target because it hosts a naval base.

Actually, come to think of it, in one way for many years now I have been preparing for the possibility of not only a nuclear attack, but surviving the undoubtedly hellish would that would form afterwards. And that way is with B movies, specifically B movies that concern themselves with nuclear war and post-holocaust worlds. While I am sure that a real nuclear war and subsequent 2019: After The Fall Of New Yorkpost-holocaust world would be much worse than what's depicted in these movies, apart from details of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there isn't exactly much detail of just how exactly our world would be like after a nuclear war. We just have to guess. But I have to confess that I also watch a lot of post-holocaust movies because I find a good amount of them surprisingly entertaining. There's something about these movies I find instantly fascinating. I've certainly watched a good number of them for this web site. And since it's been some time since I reviewed one, I thought it would be time to review another one. It's fitting I found a copy of 2019: After The Fall Of New York at a Value Village, since those places look (and smell) like a bomb went off inside them. The movie takes place in the year 2019, some years after a nuclear war not only devastated the world, but left everyone sterile. Despite the destruction, two superpowers still exist, the Pan American Confederation and the Euracs. One day, the P.A.C. receive information that in the ruins of what was once New York City - which is now controlled by Euracs - there is a fertile woman that could possibly help replenish the human race. The P.A.C. promptly contact Parsifal (Sopkiw, Blastfighter), a lone warrior spending his days racing cars in the wastelands. Parsifal agrees to sign up for the mission to sneak into the New York City ruins and smuggle the woman out. He is given two sidekicks to help him, a man named Bronx (Paolo Maria Scalondro, Sleepless) and a man called Ratchet (Romano Puppo, Tuareg - The Desert Warrior), each with unique skills. Though Parsifal and his helpers soon find out that the ruins of New York City hold an incredible number of dangers that even their skills combined might not be able to fight off.

Given that description of the plot of 2019: After The Fall Of New York, and knowing the fact that it was an early 1980s Italian movie, I think there is a strong possibility that you sensed that this movie was in part inspired by a certain American movie released two years earlier. That movie being, of course, Escape From New York. While the original movie wasn't a post-nuke exercise, 2019: After The Fall Of New York doesn't just take the idea of a rogue hired to infiltrate a future uncivilized New York City to save someone. The character of Ratchet has an eyepatch just like Snake Plissken, and the climatic action sequences of both movies are extremely similar. But as I've said in past reviews, I don't mind imitation as long as the imitation is done with energy and skill, and in this particualar movie those attributes can be found. Take that aforementioned climatic action sequence, for one thing. Sure, the idea of driving through a mine field by itself is not original, but the filmmakers throw in some additional challenges during the sequence, such as soldiers on the sidelines firing lasers at the same time that the protagonists are trying to dodge the mines. But even if those additional challenges in the scene had not been there, the scene would still have been pretty exciting. In fact, all the action sequences in 2019: After The Fall Of New York are pretty well done, no matter what kind of action is being showcased. We get a great variety of action, ranging from a Max Max-like car duel in the wasteland to various foot chases through the rubble of the Big Apple.

Although some of the action is kind of repeated (we get more than one foot chase, for one thing), the action, whatever kind it is, always manages to stir the blood considerably. I think a big reason for this is that director Sergio Martino (Hands Of Steel) manages for almost the entire ninety-five minutes of the movie to maintain both a swift pace and avoiding making scenes go on for too long. The only moments in the movie where I started to fidget just a little were when the protagonists are captured by Big Ape (George Eastman, Rabid Dogs) and his gang, and later when the final few minutes of the movie unfold. Apart from those two moments, the movie really moves at a zippy pace. But Martino's skill behind the camera goes beyond making the narrative appealing. He also makes the movie look pretty good. Although the bulk of the movie was shot in Italy (and the wasteland scenes in Arizona), Martino chose some good locations to represent various parts of a ruined New York City. They may have been simply abandoned buildings and run down areas, as well as easily accessible sewers and caves. But with some dressing and some carefully chosen camera angles, they end up giving a convincing feeling as to what a nuked metropolis would look and feel like. Occasionally Martino throws in some special effects as well to represent the city, military bases, and flying aircraft, namely with some model work. I will admit that it's pretty clear that these models are, well, models. But I didn't mind at all these somewhat cheesy-looking special effects. Despite their kind of low rent look, there is a charm and a warm feeling from looking at these low budget models that you often don't get from seeing expensive CGI effects nowadays.

I should add that there are some genuinely good practical special effects here and there, such as gore effects (one character gets his eyes gouged out), as well as some acceptable-looking sets representing interior rooms of both the P.A.C. and Eurac headquarters. That, and the other stuff I brought up before, all make 2019: After The Fall Of New York a pretty entertaining movie. But it's no post-apocalypse classic, and the reason for that is that the movie is pretty flat when it comes to a human side. Take the lead character of Parsifal. Actor Michael Sopkiw (who looks a little like Kurt Russell) gives it his best shot, showing enthusiasm and handling the physical side of the role well. But the script doesn't make his character very multi-dimensional. Parsifal seems so determined to get his assignment done that he shows almost no other side to his character. When he eventually does (falling in love with a woman played by Valentine Monnier), it comes so out of the blue and not focused on at length that it's simply not convincing. The sidekick characters of Bronx and Ratchet get even less to make them characters; I had to resort to finding amusement that the Ratchet actor greatly resembled Richard Mulligan. Also, the movie is missing a really strong villain. While there is the character of the commander of the Euracs (played by Serge Feuillard), surprisingly he only has two or three brief scenes in the entire movie, nowhere enough to make him a real threat. I wish that writer/director Martino and his two co-writers had stolen a little more from Escape From New York and The Road Warrior; both those movies had strong and memorable villains. However, despite those aforementioned flaws, 2019: After The Fall Of New York is all the same a pleasing post-apocalypse romp, and it's definitely above average when it comes to Italian clones.

(Posted April 24, 2020)

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: Panic In Year Zero!, Survivor, Warlords 3000

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