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Barb Wire (1996), based on the Dark Horse comic book,
is a sci-fi film that pay homage to
James Bond the high-tech agent,
Barbarella the futuristic heroine and, above all,
Casablanca the noir film.
Barb is the sexy operator and dancer of a decadent nightclub.
She is also occasionally a bounty hunter, who finds people for money.
In the first scene, she dances in a club in order to free a sexy girl dressed
like a schoolmate who is kept prisoner, and then delivers her to the parents.
It is the year 2017, during the Second American Civil War,
and Barb lives in Steel Harbor, the last independent city in a fascist America.
A woman is being tortured in a high-tech lab, until she tells them about
a leader of the resistance,
Karina, a heroine who used to be a government scientist but then defected
and took with her precious secrets.
The head of the fascists wants her, no matter what, and wants her alive.
Barb does not care for politics. She claims she is only loyal to money.
Barb rides her motorcycle like a punk through the ruins of the devastated
city, while in the alleys a violent war is waged between the rebels and the
She got a license for prostitution and runs that business in one of the worst
neighborhoods. She is picked up by a fat pervert who lives in an exclusive
building, where the elevator requires the retina check.
It is actually a trick to get into the building. Using high-tech devices, she
breaks into the next apartment and handcuffs a man. Two bodyguards trie to
stop her, but she shoots back like a professional hitman and beats them like a
What makes her seriously mad is when one of the men calls her "babe".
She brings the prey to the customer on her motorcycle and then rides away,
cold and indifferent.
The police enters the nightclub searching for members of the resistance
(by using a machine that identifies retina prints)
and Barb has to bribe the chief, Willis, to ger rid of them.
Then the real fascists enter, in uniform, led by an evil colonel,
and talk business to her: they
want to hire her to find the heroine of the resistance, Karina.
Right at that moment, Karina and a friend walk in. The guy, Axel, has come to
ask Barb for help. He first meets Barb's brother, Charlie, a tough kid,
left blind by a fascist grenade, who warns him. Axel still approaches Barb, and
Barb hits him straight in the face: he is the ex-boyfriend who dumped her, and
she obviously has neither forgotten nor forgiven.
Karina wants to cross the border into Canada, but would never elude the retina
scanners. She needs a pair of magical contact lenses that allow their wearer
to pass through the retina scanners. And her partners tell her that only
one person has the connections to get them: Barb.
Barb remembers an Apocalypse Now kind of scene, when she wants a marine
It turns out that the magical contact lessons are in the possession of the
very customer she worked for on her last case. The fascists kill all of his
men because they know it and want the contact lenses. He is scared and begs
Barb to help him escape from the city. Barb is indifferent to his fate and
refuses to help him or to take the contact lenses. The customer, unseen,
hides them in her kitchen and then leaves.
Off hours, Axel visits Barb in the nightclub and they kiss.
Axel introduces Karina as his wife and Karina explains that she was part of
a program to build a biological weapon that could destroy the world. Now she
needs to reach the free world and tell them that there is a cure.
They beg her to help them retrieve the contact lenses, but Barb is now
The fascists enter the building in mass, and start breaking everything.
Barb, Charlie and Barb's faithful majordomo are powerless.
But Charlie, as he takes shelter under a counter, finds the contact lenses.
When the fascists leave, he tells Barb. Charlie would like to help the
resistance, but Barb is only interested in the money and hopes this deal
will get them to Paris.
Barb takes the motorcycle and goes to negotiate with the king of the underworld,
a man so fat that he lives inside the mouth of a caterpillar.
In the meantime, Charlie walks into a trap of the fascists, who have occupied
the hideout of the resistance.
While Barb obtains free passage for herself and Charlie to the airport located
in the free world, Charlie is being tortured with electrical shocks by the
Barb is back at the nightclub and is getting ready to leave for Paris.
Alarmed that Charlies is not there, Barb looks for him and finds him dead
in the hideout of the resistance. After a few tears,
she turns from a heartless mercenary into a freedom fighter, and leads
Karina and Alex towards freedom.
But the fat man betrays them. Once Barb gives him the contact lenses, he calls
in the fascists and the police. Thankfully, the police chief switches side
and hands Barb a grenade that she uses to create a distraction
(the grenade explodes in the fat man's lap). The four jump on a truck and
drive away, chased by the fascists. Barb decides to stay heroically behind
and protect the escape of Willis, Axel and Karina. On her motorcycle she
wreaks havoc. She's about to be killed by the evil colonel when Axel comes
to rescue her with a crane. Barb and the evil colonel fight while hanging
from the crane's rope, until he makes the mistake of calling her "babe"...
Alex and Karina depart on the airplane that is on the other side of the
barbed wire, while Barb and Willis plan to fly to Paris.
The film's plot is amateurish at best, and the acting is even less professional,
but the film is worth quite a bit as a cyberpunk parody of classic cinema
(it is almost identical to Casablanca).