Review: Survival Quest (movie)

Yesterday, I asked on my Facebook page what survival movies people particularly liked. I got the usual, expected responses:

–Red Dawn
–The Road
–Mad Max, The Road Warrior
–The Book of Eli
–I Am Legend

No one, other than myself, brought up this great little flick from 1989 called Survival Quest.

Lance Henriksen, one of my all-time favorite actors, plays wilderness survival instructor Hank Chambers. The outfit for which he works is sort of an Outward Bound type of school, where he takes a small group of students out into the wilderness for several days, teaching them not only wilderness skills but how to work together as a team. He is sort of a mountain man type, preferring to work with nature instead of doing battle against it. His class this time around consists of several relatively normal people, each with their own quirks and such. Among these are a recent divorcee, the requisite smart ass, and a convict whose parole hinges upon his successful completion of the course.

At the same time, there is another group of students being taught skills in the forest. Led by tyrannical “survivalist” Jake Cannon, the class reminds me of the sort of schools that used to advertise in Soldier of Fortune magazine. They are being taught ways to stalk sentries and take them out with knives, that sort of thing. One of the students, going by the nickname Raider, is particularly enthralled with these more violent types of exercises.

Realizing quickly that the groups are having to share the forest, Cannon makes a point of using Hank’s students as targets for his class. They are shot at with paintball guns and stalked frequently. At one point, there is a brief confrontation between Hank and Cannon, which ends up embarrassing the latter character, making him even more determined to get revenge.

Things come to a head when Hank is shot with a real gun by one of Cannon’s students. Cannon, having not intended things to go that far, begins to assault the trigger man, Raider. He defends himself by stabbing Cannon in the neck, then telling his classmates that Cannon was killed by one of Hank’s students. Raider then leads his group in an all out attack on Hank’s group.

Believing Hank to be dead, his students attempt to get back to the home base, a small airfield. Using skills they’ve been taught, they work to survive off the land until they reach safety.

I’ll not spoil the final act of the movie. Suffice to say, it is all wrapped up in the end. “Fire is nature’s cleanser.”

While this movie didn’t do anything spectacular in the theaters, I quite liked it. In particular, the lesson (though they do sort of beat you over the head with it) is that nature isn’t a force to be conquered. Rather, it is to be respected.

Unfortunately, Survival Quest isn’t available on Netflix, at least through the instant streaming feature. But, if you look around a bit, I’m sure you can find a used DVD copy fairly cheap. It is worth the hunt, trust me.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for SurvivalWeekly.com. He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

6 thoughts on “Review: Survival Quest (movie)”

    1. Snow Walker was one of my favorites… of course top of the list would have to be Jeremiah Johnson. Always said if I had a boy his name was gonna be Jeremiah!!

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