While I wasn't as wholeheartedly enamored with it as Little China, I have to say... I still thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It's just so... cool. It's really hard to explain why, though. The atmosphere of it all, for starters. It's really not a dystopian or post-apocalyptic film, but his has the feeling of both. The outside world is normal for all we know. But in the world of this prison, it's dark, gritty, and every-man-for-himself.
Any how can you not love that cast? It's insane. I think that has a big part to do with why this movie works so much. These characters and how they're portrayed is a lot of fun. Of course you gotta give it up to Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, and Isaac Hayes. But this movie, hands down, belongs to Kurt Russell playing one of the most badass characters ever. I'm a sucker for antiheroes, and he hit all the right notes. To make it even better, he's totally cheesy with how over-the-top he presents his character. The voice, the way he carries himself... everything. But it's a good cheese, because it mixes with the badassery of the character to form this... amalgamation of awesome.
To be completely honest, I have very little else to say about this movie. It's just... fun. In large part due to how cool Snake Plisskin is as a character. I think I would need to see it a couple more times to really get into the other characters and the overall setting and feel of the flick (I unfortunately had to watch it over a 2 day period, and during an annoying medical situation, which kind of took me out of it). But on the first watch, it was pretty dang awesome.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
(P.S. I was so tempted to give it the top rating, but I just couldn't, at least not on this first viewing. Nothing wrong with the film itself, just personal feelings and probably too much self-hype mixed in. But I suppose consider it a very strong version of this rating.)
(P.P.S. As far as Russell/Carpenter goes... I forgot about The Thing, too, which I've also seen. Just wanted to throw that out there before somebody else had to point it out.)