Class of 1999 [1990]

Even though this violent indie film has "exploitation" stamped all over it--with its gratuitous car chases, shootouts, and anarchistic characters--it is a guilty pleasure. Unfolding in the future--well, at least at the time of its release it was a decade ahead of schedule--this movie shows how our urban schools have deteriorated to the point that gangs run the classroom and the police, scared to even go near these educational wastelands, use hired goons to keep law and order there. (In fact, the government now has a Department of Educational Defense.) In Class of 1999, a corporate representative (Stacy Keach), eager to rake in potential billions in government contracts, convinces a Seattle-area school principal (Malcolm McDowell) to test out three lifelike android teachers (including Pam Grier). This technological trio possesses intelligence and superhuman strength, which offer to both educate and discipline the bad apples at school. Unfortunately, the androids quickly move from harsh discipline such as spankings and beatings to murder, and Keach's corporate scumbag convinces McDowell's educator that despite this, the program needs to stay its course. Thus it is up to a newly paroled ex-gangbanger (Bradley Gregg) and the principal's daughter (Traci Lind) to uncover the teachers' identities and alert students and rival gangs to the impending danger. Despite its formulaic approach and some plot implausibilities, Mark Lester's film is entertaining to watch, especially with such exchanges as this: "So they've been waging war with my students." "Well, isn't that what all teachers do?" --Bryan Reesman

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