City Limits (1985 film)

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City Limits
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Aaron Lipstadt
Produced by Rupert Harvey
Barry Opper
Written by Aaron Lipstadt (story)
James Reigle (story)
Don Keith Opper
Starring John Stockwell
Darrel Larson
Rae Dawn Chong
James Earl Jones
Dean Devlin
Tony Plana
Kim Cattrall
Pamela Ludwig
Music by Mitchell Froom
Distributed by Atlantic Releasing
Release dates
September 1, 1985
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English

City Limits is a 1984 post-apocalyptic movie about two teenage gangs who unite against an evil corporation trying to take them over for their own use. It was written and directed by Aaron Lipstadt and is based on a story by James Reigle and Lipstadt.

The movie was featured on an episode of the cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, during which Crow T. Robot sang a song in tribute to actress Kim Cattrall, who appears in the movie. When Kim Cattrall saw the episode, she arranged for flowers to be sent to Trace Beaulieu, Crow's puppeteer.[1]


Sometime near present day a mysterious plague sweeps the world, killing almost every adult and leaving behind "a world of orphans". Some fortunate few are raised by the surviving adults, including Lee (John Stockwell), who is taken in and raised by Albert (James Earl Jones) on his remote farm. Fifteen years later, Lee decides to set out for the nearby ruins of Los Angeles in the hopes of joining the Clippers, a famous motorcycle gang. Lee arrives in the city only to find it seemingly empty, but spots a convoy of cargo trucks heading through the streets. He follows them into a well-lit, fenced off building, where he is quickly noticed by Bolo (Norbert Weisser), who is overseeing operations. When various workers begin to converge on Lee he flees on his motorcycle.

After defending himself against and fleeing from a hostile group of bikers known as the DAs, Lee manages to make his way into Clippers territory and meets their leader Mick (Darrell Larson) and his second in command Whitey (John Diehl). When Lee asks to join the gang he is rebuffed and told to head back to his farm. Mick sends Yogi (Rae Dawn Chong) along to escort Lee safely to the city limits. However, the two are soon chased by the DAs when they discover one of the bikers who attacked Lee earlier has died from his injuries. Lee and Yogi manage to evade the DAs and head back to Clippers territory. Whitey and Mick debate turning him over to Ray (Danny De La Paz), the leader of the DAs, to preserve the "no guns, no killing" truce that exists between the two gangs, but Sammy (Don Keith Opper) offers a suggestion. When Ray arrives, Whitey proposes a test of combat between Lee and the DAs' best combatant to decide if he lives; Ray agrees. After he leaves Ray heads to the factory where he reports to Bolo, who tells him he will be sending one of his employees with him to the competition.

The next day the two gangs arrive for the competition. Before the fight begins Ray presents Wickings (Kim Cattrall), who introduces herself and Bolo as representatives of the Sunya Corporation, brought to L.A. at the behest of the Federal government. Wickings attempts to convince Mick to have the Clippers help with Sunya's efforts to restore power and other utilities to the city, but Mick turns her down harshly, reasoning that "nobody gives nothing for nothing". The gangs then proceed with the competition, pitting Lee against a female DA. Though initially surprised by the woman's fierceness, Lee ultimately defeats her without killing her. The Clippers leave victorious, Lee now officially a member of the gang.

Back at the Sunya factory Wickings tries to convince Bolo and his boss Carver (Robby Benson) that the Clippers can still be brought around; Bolo and Carver are unconvinced. Bolo leaves the office to meet Ray, where he scolds the gang leader for failing to bring the Clippers on board, then gives him a gun and tells him the gang needs to be brought on board now. The entire scene is observed from the rafters by Whitey, but as he attempts to leave he nearly falls and is noticed. Bolo's men give chase and ultimately capture him, and Bolo executes him in front of Ray. Wickings leaves the office in time to see Bolo standing over Whitey's body. The next day she files an electronic report with the government accusing Bolo and Carver of violating company directives, specifically in using armed force to recruit workers, but receives a reply that the two have been authorized to use any and all measures they deem necessary. After being confronted by Bolo, Wickings returns to her quarters where she obtains a schematic of the facility's sewer system and uses it to escape undetected.

As the Clippers prepare to have a funeral for Whitey, Bolo makes plans to ambush the group during the ceremony. Ray begs Bolo for one last chance to convince Mick; Bolo agrees, but readies his men anyway. At the funeral Ray attempts to reason with Mick, but instead starts a brawl between the DAs and Clippers. The brawl is cut short when Bolo and his men open fire on the Clippers, killing many and rounding up others to be used as slave labor. Mick is wounded, but he, Lee, Yogi, Frankie (Pamela Ludwig), Sammie, Ramos (Tony Plana) and a few others escape, aided by Wickings and later joined by Ernie (Dean Devlin) and a few others. Mick leaves for one last meeting with Ray, who tries to convince Mick to leave town as soon as he can. Bolo and a group of men arrive at the meeting and take custody of Mick, tipped off to its location by Ernie. Bolo tasks Ray with bringing Ernie back to the Sunya factory; Ray gives him a ride, but kills him along the way for his betrayal of his former friend. Bolo tortures Mick to reveal the location of the remaining Clippers, but before he can get the information the group arrives, rescues Mick and flees the city for Albert's farm.

The group spends some time at Albert's farm recuperating, during which time Lee and Wickings become romantically involved. Later, Lee and Mick form a plan to retake the city from Sunya. The group fixes up their bikes, adding some restored motorcycles from Albert's collection. The group then leaves for the city, accompanied by Albert in his restored 1950s Cadillac. Once in the city, Wickings and Lee infiltrate the Sunya factory using the sewers, overpower the guard overseeing the captured Clippers' training, and frees the group, leading them back to their impounded motorcycles. Now armed and with transportation, the reformed Clippers head back for Sunya to finish the job, only to be stopped by the DAs. Rather than fighting them though, Ray allows them to proceed, and he and the rest of the DAs join the Clippers in their assault on the Sunya factory.

At Sunya, Wickings and Sammy disable the power, allowing the unified gang to attack in the confusion. Bolo arrives soon after, holding the two at gunpoint and turning the power back on. This allows a Sunya vehicle with a mounted machine gun to open fire on the gangs, killing some and forcing the rest to take cover. The advantage is short-lived: assisted by Frankie, Albert takes out the vehicle using an explosive-laden remote controlled model plane. Sammy and Wickings make their escape while Bolo is stunned by the explosion, and Albert crashes a second explosive plane into Bolo, killing him. With most of Sunya's personnel fleeing or dead, Lee, Wickings, Mick and Yogi head for the main building to confront Carver. They find him, but Carver is unimpressed, calmly stating that even if he is killed, someone just like him or worse will be sent in his place. Before anyone else can act Ray drives into the office on his motorcycle, simply responding with, "no", before he crushes Carver between his desk and the wall, killing him.

In the aftermath, the Clippers and DAs unite, becoming the Clippers Corporation. Wickings assists in helping them petition the Federal government to grant them official control of the city, which the government accepts. Lee stays with the Clippers, while Albert returns to his farm.


Critical reception[edit]

The Variety review was positive about the depiction of a tribal society, the action scenes and the "vibrant" score; the reviewer considered the Sunya Corp. plot less convincing.[2]


  1. ^ Murphy, Kevin, et al. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, pg 66. New York City: Bantam, 1996. Book.
  2. ^ Julian Brown, ed. Variety Science-Fiction Movies: Illustrated Reviews of the Classic Films, p24. Hamlyn, London, 1992. ISBN 0-600-57488-1

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