11 of Richard Lynch’s “Greatest” Hits (to the Balls) – 1. DEATHSPORT (1978) Review

Folks, shock and tragedy has struck. No, I’m not talking about Syria. Nobody really actually cares about that yet. Nope, not about another suicide bomber in Afghanistan either. Operation Fast & Furious? Nah. I’m talking about something far more tragic.

Richard Lynch has died. Shocking? Hell yes. Who could believe it? Because I didn’t.

Reports from the Hollywood Reporter on June 20th said that “the Bad Guy in horror and sci-fi films” died at 76. They’re talking about Richard Lynch, the Bad Guy in those horror and science fiction films. You know… Richard Lynch? The Bad Guy? In horror and sci-fi films? Cromwell? Rostov? Richard fucking Lynch? You people are useless… Nice reporting on Hollywood by the Hollywood Reporter. Your story about a man’s death and all you could report was that a man was dead? You call yourself a news reporting organization?

This is what Richard Lynch looks like when he’s happy.

So there I was, having daydreams, wishing I could grow a Fu Manchu mustache and there was the news article about the Department of Homeland Security seizing a dinosaur’s skeleton and immediately I knew that Richard “Motherfucking Dinosaur” Lynch had tragically passed. Sure he was 76, but everybody knows 76 is the new 76, which is just another way of saying somebody is fucking old. (Correction: he is actually 72; news organizations were reporting incorrect year of birth.)

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you people but I find this really disrespectful. Sure, I didn’t know the guy, but to shoehorn Richard Lynch into a corner? Nobody puts baby in a corner… But don’t worry. The Bruce is here to give the man a proper tribute. By counting down his best films and then reviewing his greatest film of all-time.

Lynch was born in the United States to Irish parents in 1936. This means he was about a decade too young to fight in the Second World War, not that that stopped him. Like other people who look like Lynch, which is evil, ol’ Dick was perfect to play bad guys. Thing is, he wasn’t really playing them as much as he was just being himself.

Dude just looks evil. And he is. Apparently the scars on his face happened in 1967 when he set himself on fire while on an acid trip. You heard that fucking right. He set. Himself. On fire. While on an acid trip.

Mohamed Bouazizi standing in for Richard Lynch.
Unfortunately, Bouazizi was no Lynch, and sadly died shortly afterward.

Since then he’s appeared in countless films and television shows, of which IMDb says number 160. What better way to pay homage to King Cromwell than to review eleven of his “Greatest” Hits? Let’s start with Deathsport.

Poster for Deathsport (1978).
By the way, the bikes in the film look nothing like that.

That’s right… No Olympic Games. No World Series. No Superbowl. Good fucking god no. What are Americans without their dominance over the sports? But fear not, a new sport exists in this future… DEATH Sport. Oh hell yeah… Produced by the King, Roger Corman (who requires a separate tribute to himself), Deathsport is… well… it’s pretty bad. Fun fact: Jerry Garcia contributed to the soundtrack.

“I was clearly tripping some major balls.”

Whoa, wait just a thoughtless minute…


Jerry Garcia is Karl Marx reincarnated. I fucking knew it. This is why this Marxist film has some kind of a weird psychedelic vibe to it. Sure, I’m positive the film really isn’t Marxist and I’ll never mention this again, but hey, if everyone else is going to pervert Marxism when they really have no idea what Marx espoused, then so can I.

Richard Lynch plays Ankar Moor playing Richard Lynch, a contemplative man of action. Ankar Moor is a very thinly-disguised version of his real-life inspiration, Richard Lynch. Apparently he’s the bad guy, but really he’s the hero. Dutifully sacrificing himself for the good of king and country and subduing the rebels, in this case, people known as Range Guides. His main nemesis is a dude named Kaz Oshay, played by David Carradine. You know this is the future because in the future everyone will have really silly names. You think people were named John a thousand years ago? That’s fucking ridiculous.

Above: David Carradine as Kaz Oshay, in Deathsport (1978).
Looking a little flabby around the midsection, eh, Kaz?

This also rips off Star Wars (wouldn’t be Corman’s only time). These Range Guides are like Jedi, only not. They are their own masters. They have magical healing powers and they can join unions though I wouldn’t recommend it in the state of Wisconsin. They got psychic powers that are never explained (though it might have something to do with that whole radiation thing). They can fight. Unfortunately, there is one thing that they are not, and that’s Richard Lynch. It’s up to Lynch to carry out the state’s will and subdue these dangerous Range Guides.

The film is set in the year 3000 (coincidentally also when Battlefield Earth is set), and it’s all post-apocalyptic and shit. By the way, the future is looking suspiciously like modern-day California sans the apocalypse. There was a “neutron war” and shit happened and now there are a few big cities and nothing in between. People known as Range Guides inhabit the so-called “wastelands”, telling people where to go and shit, and protecting them from mutant cannibals (obviously). Mad emperor Zirpola controls Helix City.

Above: Helix City, Deathsport (1978), looking suspiciously like a matte painting.

The film opens on Guide Kaz Oshay (David Carradine). He lives by a nonexistent Guide code and apparently believes himself to be his own master. But what’s this? It’s Richard Lynch out to subdue the rebellious upstart.

Lynch Fact #1: Little-known fact about this movie is that it was actually based on true events in Lynch’s own life. It was that part of his life where Lynch was putting down a rebellion by making the seditious rebels engage in a future sport of death. But screenwriters and filmmakers like to take dramatic licenses with adapted material and, unfortunately, Ankar is portrayed as a “bad” guy but he’s automatically a hero now because it’s motherfucking Richard Lynch. How can he be a villain, when he is his own master?

Above: Richard Lynch as Ankar Moor as Richard Lynch, Deathsport (1978).
Is that the motherfucking Power Glove?

Now, you might be naively wondering why the all-powerful Lynch is hiding up on some mountaintop like a pussy. Why doesn’t he engage Carradine in mortal combat?

Lynch Fact #2: Richard Lynch believes in the art of merciful torture. That is, he’ll keep you alive only so you can suffer more later on. He must capture Kaz Oshay alive so that he may suffer in the Death Sport.

So they manage to capture David Carradine and return to Helix City. Carradine screams out that he is a Guide, like those retarded Americans scream they’re American in movies where they get arrested, like being American will automatically mean your captors will let you go. Carradine is placed in a cell to await the coming Death Sport, while Lynch stops to talk to the Emperor, Zirpola (David McLean). Lynch must make time in his busy schedule of ass-kicking to hold court with the Emperor.

Above: Zirpola (David McLean) and Richard Lynch, Deathsport (1978).
Did the guy just move in there? Why does the set look so fucking cheap?

Zirpola then requests that Lynch go out and find a female Guide to participate in Death Sport. He foolishly suggests that Lynch should watch his back. Lynch Fact #3: The most powerful Guide was a female, and she was utterly destroyed… by Richard Lynch. It’s unknown at this time whether she sold cookies door-to-door.

Richard Lynch will destroy you. And steal your cookies.

So Lynch goes out to capture a female Ranger Guide. Not because he has to but because he fucking can. He encounters the perfect female, Deneer (played by 1970 Playboy Playmate of the Year Claudia Jennings). Jennings is guiding a bunch of people across the wastelands. Lynch and his cronies decide to ruin their time when they come cruising along on their death machine dirt bikes.

Despite fighting valiantly, one of the other Guides is instantly vaporized, a child gets captured alive by mutant cannibals (obviously), and Jennings’ stunt double is captured and taken prisoner.

Above: Deneer (Claudia Jennings), Deathsport (1978).
I know the picture quality ain’t good, but… C’mon… That’s a stunt double, right?

Meanwhile, Dr. Karl (William Smithers) has discovered that the Emperor Zirpola has brain disease and is literally out of his mind. He is looking to start another war with rival city-state Tritan. Of course, Zirpola, like most men who willingly go to see a doctor, throws his diagnosis out. Like any reasonably insane man, he declares that he is actually healthy and that the doctor is jealous. He then has the doctor taken away to become an unwilling participant in Death Sport (as if there are any other kinds of participants in Death Sport).

Above: Dr. Karl (William Smithers) and Zirpola (David McLean), Deathsport (1978).
“Sir, it appears you may have a brain— There’s no need to take your pants off, sir.”
“I’m the Emperor, I can do whatever I fucking want!”

Richard Lynch is not a cruel man and he shows his sportsman like behavior by visiting Death Sport’s unwilling participants. In his conversations with Deneer and Kaz Oshay (who have, in the meantime, joined in union or some bullshit), we find out many more Lynch Facts about the great Richard Lynch.

For instance, did you know Richard Lynch is a madman without a soul? Where has his soul transcended to, I wonder? Did you know that Richard Lynch betrayed the “consciousness”? I have no idea what the fuck that means, but it sounds badass. Richard Lynch also stands free. Guides live by codes, he says, and since he does not, that truly makes him his only master. Man, how much more soul-searchingly philosophical and existential can this movie get? Richard Lynch just one-upped the Jedi wannabes at their own game. He not only kicks people’s asses, he can outsmart them, too.

Above: Richard Lynch as Richard Lynch, Deathsport (1978).
Apparently, Richard Lynch brings Hell with him.

Kaz Oshay and the other lowly rebels attempt to escape. But who’s there to stop them? You guessed it: Richard motherfucking Lynch. With a shitload of gas canisters and his own personal army, Richard Lynch quells the prison escape attempt and restores order. Lynch Fact #325: Tom Hardy’s Bane is clearly a rip-off of Richard Lynch. Did you know that Christopher Nolan was inspired by Lynch’s appearance as himself in Deathsport enough that he modeled Hardy’s Bane after him? [citation needed]

Above: Richard Lynch as Bane, Deathsport (1978).

So basically the future says that the death penalty has been abolished. Bad news for Republicans. Good news is there’s now Death Sport. Basically futuristic gladiatorial combat shit. Carradine, Jennings, Smithers, and his son (who was locked up after attempting to help the others escape) are now forced to fight to the death.. There are vaporizers, “death machines” (dirt bikes with lasers), bigass swords and a control panel to turn on land mines, lots of explosions, and shit. And there’s Richard Lynch, who’s like a death sport in and of himself.

But before they fight, the evil emperor must give his speech, of course. This has got to be the greatest speech ever, after Van Damme’s classic inspirational Street Fighter speech, obviously. The “audience” is composed completely of matte paintings and “cheers” which sound like they’re literally coming from a stereo next to the guy, who’s standing in a room looking off-camera, a camera which doesn’t fucking move, and speaking as if to his mother. Get used to the “cheering”, folks.

Above: Zirpola (McLean) giving his speech, Deathsport (1978).
“Good luck, fighters, and all that! This is a glorious day to be alive, isn’t it?! Yes, breathe that fresh air and know your bravery will be rewarded, even though you were all handpicked! Oh, happy day! And I’m apparently talking to nobody!”

Richard Lynch goes down to the pits just to tell David Carradine that he’ll see him, and his mother, in hell. Did I say that Richard Lynch brings Hell with him? I meant to say that Hell is clearly beneath him. So after about forty minutes this fucking Death Sport finally starts. You know, it’s pretty misleading to call your film Deathsport, advertise it as a dangerous and deathly future sport, and have this shit start forty minutes into the movie. This better be fucking good.

Above: Richard Lynch, Deathsport (1978).
Dude looks evil even in green.

So I gotta tell ya… This Death Sport thing really sucks. I mean, it ain’t Hunger Games bad, but it still sucks. Show dirt bike, show contestant, show rider vaporizing and/or dirt bike exploding, repeat. That’s it. Eventually it comes time for Carradine and Jennings to get killed but instead they decide to defy the death part of Death Sport and escape. Yes, folks, the Death Sport, which is in the title, Deathsport, was about seven lousy minutes. Fuck yeah.

Above: Zirpola (David McLean) on the control pad, Deathsport (1978).
“This is some pretty sophisticated equipment! I know it doesn’t matter what button I press, but boy is this difficult to pretend to control.”

While fiddling with the controls on his, well, control pad, and blowing shit up with remote mines, the Emperor accidentally blows up the shield surrounding the arena. What in holy fucking hell? Are you kidding me? What military genius put mines next to the shield? Hell, why is this invisible forcefield even affected by the mines? Naturally, the infuriated Emperor demands that Richard capture the escapees. Richard, not liking Zirpola’s tone, proceeds to make the Emperor his bitch. He then says he’ll capture the escaping Carradine, Jennings, Smithers and son not because he has to, but because he wants to.

Above: Zirpola getting strangled by Richard Lynch, Deathsport (1978).
Apparently there are five bitches in this room.

Richard Lynch chases his prey into the wild wastelands, where mutant cannibals roam, and hellish post-apoc nature looms. Not only must Richard Lynch contend with incompetent subordinates, but also feisty Range Guides and the “flashwind”. What the “flashwind” is is anyone’s guess.

Above: the “flashwind”, Deathsport (1978).
Looks like somebody was using footage from Storm Chasers again.

Lots of bike action ensues, with people getting vaporized left and right. Oh, and Dr. Karl also gets killed. Forgot to mention that. I’m not sure in which battle he bites the dust because they’re all so fucking similar, but he dies. Tragic, huh? No? Oh…. Well… What follows that is, well, more dirt bike on dirt bike action and, no, it’s not as kinky as you imagine. In fact, it’s all rather bland, unexciting and, to be honest, a fucking turnoff. Even the sex scene involving a nude Claudia Jennings isn’t as titillating as you’d imagine.

Above: David Carradine and Claudia Jennings getting it on, Deathsport (1978).

After escaping the first time, Richard Lynch spies his prey emerging from what appears to be an old munitions dump. The chase is on again. However, David and Jennings and Karl’s son must first rescue the little girl that got captured at the beginning by mutant cannibals. Remember that? How the little girl we don’t care about and should already be dead got captured at the beginning? No? Yeah, neither do I.

Yes, folks, there are mutant cannibals in this film (obviously). What kind of a movie would call itself post-apocalyptic without some good man-eating-manflesh action? A not-so-clichéd one, you say? Who watches a post-apocalyptic film not to see clichés? That’s right, nobody.

The three head to the mutant’s lair, and this is good, because they can go into the cave and face threat of being killed and/or eaten alive to avoid death by “flashwind”. It’s also good for me, because I’m starting to get really confused here about which bike battle is which. At least this action scene is kind of different even though it’s just as fucking boring as the others.

Anyway, it seems like the little girl is actually still alive. Why the mutant cannibals are keeping her alive and locked in a cage I have no idea. Why the mutants also look like their eyes are being forced out of their sockets I also have no idea. How a sequence featuring mutant cannibals can be this boring I really have no idea.

Above: mutant cannibal from Deathsport (1978).
No, I am not kidding. Yes, I know he happens to look like an undignified and stereotypically-generic white caricature of a non-white fighter. What the fuck do you want me to do about it?

Along the way, Karl’s son (who I still don’t know the name of) gets injured, in one of the most depressing scenes of the movie, flailing around like a little girl. Hell, the actual little girl seemed braver than he was. But the trio escape with the little girl, only to get drawn into… Another fucking dirt bike action sequence. Good fucking god. This time, Carradine tells the others to run away to Tritan like a bunch of injured pussies, while he draws Richard and the others out.

Above: dirt-bike action sequence, Deathsport (1978).
That pretty much sums up this entire movie.

Lynch Fact #5345: Richard Lynch clearly knows when they’ve lost. When most of the Statemen fighters get destroyed, Lynch tells the other wannabe-fighter pussies to go home. While Lynch Fact #2352 states that it pleases Richard Lynch to see shit being destroyed, this is something he must do on his own. That’s right, folks. It’s down to a titanic battle for emotional nothingness and empty philosophy between David Carradine and Richard “the Master” Lynch.

Above: Richard Lynch in combat with villain David Carradine, Deathsport (1978).

Oh shit… This is going to be fucking epic. I don’t throw that word around often but I really mean it this time.

Unfortunately, for reasons of shitty editing, it was impossible to tell what was going on in this epic sword fight. But I’m sure it was epic. It had to be.

But what’s this? Richard Lynch is beheaded? How can this be? A film where the hero loses? Is Roger Corman trying to make a statement? Yes, in fact, he is. You see, folks, only Richard Lynch can kill Richard Lynch, and actually, I’m not even sure about that. It’s like wondering if God can kill himself. Is it possible?

Lynch’s dying words in this biopic about Richard Lynch were that man was like a candle that must radiate by burning himself. First of all, did I mention this guy set himself on fire? Secondly, Lynch knew that the only way to progress at this point, both for himself, a man who had done everything, a man who had found himself, and for the human race, was to allow himself to be killed. Deep.

Also, you never actually see his head getting cleaved off, thanks to the terrible editing. This could all just be a hoax. You also don’t see the part where Lynch resurrects himself, comes back to life as a revenant, reattaches his head, and destroys everyone.

Above: Richard Lynch’s severed head or an obvious replica designed to look like it?
You tell me.

So what’s my final verdict? If you have a fetish for dirt bike action, you’ll love this film. David Carradine does a decent job as usual. And Claudia Jennings is nice to look at. Not much story, some philosophical musings. Richard Lynch is Richard Lynch. I’ll give you this much: it was a hell of a lot better than The Hunger Games.

More Richard Lynch love on the way.

Because I’m a fucking nice guy, some other cool reviews for your enjoyment aka a bunch of reviews I could have plagiarized my material from (but didn’t… or did I…?):

@ Cool Ass Cinema (June 21st, 2009)

@ Chopping Mall – A Film Diary (August 25th, 2009)

@ Ninja Dixon (August 12th, 2010)

@ Sarcastic Assault (December 8th, 2010)

@ Rufus’s House of Horrors (April 17th, 2012)

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