Update: it sagged horribly in the middle, then picked up to come to an okay finish.
So then I watched The Salute of the Jugger (1989) aka The Blood of Heroes
This is an Australian post-apocalyptic movie which isn't 'Mad Max'. Rutger Hauer is the leader of a band of wandering "Juggers", who are players of a violent game that combines American Football and gladiatorial combat. They wander the wasteland from village to village, challenging local teams for small rewards and hospitality. Players too injured to remain in the team are abandoned in the desert.
Joan Chen plays a young village girl with dreams of playing in the big city league, so she follows Hauer's troupe and is eventually given a trial match. Then it is revealed that Hauer used to play in the big league, but was disgraced and cast out of the subterranean city. There's plenty of cliched sports movie about this, just transposed to the future, but the cast lift it a bit. Hauer and Chen are joined in the cast by Delroy Lindo, Vincent d'Onofrio, and several other good character actors. Unfortunately, Hugh Keays-Byrne (aka the Toecutter) is badly wasted playing an insipid villain.
The game is short on flashy moves but has lots of grunty violence; you win by ramming a dog's skull onto a wooden stake to win. Every player is physically and psychologically scarred, and you know this is a short and brutal career. Absolutely everyone gets the #### beaten out of them at least once, and give it right back. At the start, Chen's character only wants to play in the big league and sleep under silk sheets, but she comes to realise that there's more to playing the game than personal gain.
Not great, but better than your average post-apocalyptic actioner - worth a watch, if you're in the mood.