"The Ultimate Warrior" is a post-Holocaust action film that came out in 1975 after "The Omega Man," but just before the genre became popular with "Mad Max" and "Escape From New York." The film is set in 2012 in a New York City that was decimated by a biological plague a couple of decades earlier that has created a world in which nothing grows. Now in the decaying city Baron (Max Von Sydow), leads a group that has barricaded a street against a rival gang of thugs, run by Carrot (William Smith). Wanting his pregnant daughter, Melinda (Joanna Miles), to have a better future, Baron hires Carson (Yul Brynner), a super-Samurai, who has been standing outside the public library waiting for somebody to make an offer for his services. Baron has heard of a mythical island off of the coast of North Carolina and wants to relocate his band there. Of course, this means fighting their way out of what is left of the Big Apple. Melinda's husband, Cal (Richard Kelton) is a scientist who knows the secret of growing plants from seeds, so humanity might have a chance after all.
Director/writer Robert Clouse is therefore offering up the first combination Science Fiction/Kung Fu film, which is not surprising since he directed Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon." From that perspective the film offers up the tradition two warring sides with champions that face off to settle the issue. The script is actually halfway decent, although surprisingly the action sequences are the weakest part of the film until the climatic battle between Carson and Carrot. However, the opening scene does a nice job of establishing the world in which this film takes place. The film hinges on Brynner's performance, which is actually fairly complex because we are not completely sure that Carson is a cynical anti-hero; in fact, we suspect he might be the only truly human character in the film. "The Ultimate Warrior" is no where near being the ultimate example of the post-apocalyptic action film, but it is a solid, unpretentious little B-movie. Plus, it has Yul Brynner.