Warlords of the 21st Century (1982)

New Zealand, 1982
35mm film, colour
mono, English
Production Start Date: July 1981

A New Zealand science fiction film directed by Harley Cokeliss. Although often referred to as a rip-off of Mad Max 2 (1981), it was actually in production in July 1981, five months before George Miller’s film was released.


Directed by: Harley Cokeliss
© Battletruck Films Limited 1981
Lloyd Phillips & Rob Whitehouse present a Harley Cokeliss film. Made by Battletruck Films Limited
Produced by: Lloyd Phillips, Rob Whitehouse
Screenplay by: Irving Austin, Harley Cokeliss, John Beech
Story by: Michael Abrams
Director of Photography: Chris Menges
Editor: Michael Horton
Music Composed and Conducted by: Kevin Peek
Sound Recordist: Grahame Morris
Wardrobe Supervisor: Christine West
Make-up Supervisor: Christine Beveridge
Special Effects Supervisor: Jonnie Burke
Production Designer: Gary Hansen
Vehicle Designer: Kai Hawkins

Michael Beck (Hunter)
Annie McEnroe (Corlie)
James Wainwright (Straker)
Bruno Lawrence (Willie)
John Bach (Bone)
John Ratzenberger (Rusty)
Randolph Powell (Judd)
Kelly Johnson (Alvin)
Diana Rowan (Charlene)
Ross Jolly (Shotgun)
Mark Hadlow (Orrin)
John Banas (Reuben)
Marshall Napier (driver)
Peter Rowell (Feathers)
Timothy Lee (Hacker)
Oona Menges (Zoe)

Alternative Titles

Battletruck – UK/US title
Le camion de la mort – French title
O Carro de Combate – Portuguese title
Destructors – Italian title
Der Kampfkoloß – West German title
Taistelurekka – Finnish title


Cinefantastique vol.12 no.5/6 (July/August 1982) p.90
“There are impressive action sequences, gorgeous location photography (the film was shot entirely in New Zealand) and an atmospheric look, but the material, despite an interesting premise, isn’t up to the effort. […] The action scenes are particularly well done, and the film captures the mood of a primitive life where survival is a continual struggle, even without the harassment from Straker’s gang. The surprisingly beautiful cinematography details a wild and barren landscape with jagged, snow-covered mountains looming in the distance. […] [T]he script sabotages both performances and pacing. Lengthy shots of vehicles rushing across the countryside seem interminable, while early scenes establishing the slim characters are clumsy and forced. […] For all its technical skill the film seems wasted on such a clunky and simple script. Director Cokliss used to make children’s films, and Battletruck will certainly please the Saturday matinee-goers. Here’s hoping the adults who accompany them like pretty scenery.” – from an illustrated review by Charlotte Wolter


Cinefantastique vol.12 no.5/6 (July/August 1982) p.90 – illustrated review (by Charlotte Wolter)
Screen International no.328 (30 January-6 February 1982) p.8 – illustrated note (NZ action pic sold)

Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.372
The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.34-35
Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis p.304
Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) pp.18-19 – credits, review