A block war is on - members of the Force arrive - just two, actually, Judge Hershey and a rookie Street Judge - she requests back up - enter Judge Dredd, who commands the warring factions to drop their weapons in a staccato – robotic voice; meanwhile, a bunch of squatters, is looking for a fight. The leader provokes Dredd to come and get them! Dredd finishes off the squatters in ‘summary executions’. The toll in the Mega City costs nineteen people their lives, fifty three persons, including five kids are hospitalized.
Hershey blames herself for the death of the Street Judge, but Dredd tells her it was the cop’s fault that got him killed, not hers; she feels frustrated that he has no emotions, to which Dredd sardonically replies, “Emotions. There oughtta be a law against them.”
Back at the headquarters of the Hall of Justice, Judge Griffin (Jürgen Prochnow) is talking about how the block wars are turning into an epidemic that ought to be dealt with immediately. He asks for a tougher criminal code, which won’t be easy, as almost sixty five million people inhabit these blocks. The Chief Justice – Chief Judge Fargo (Max Von Sydow) however believes in ‘freedom, not repression’. When he summons Joseph Dredd, he asks him whether it was necessary to carry out seven summary executions - to which Dredd replies that they were unavoidable, because life never seemed to mean much to the men.
Fargo is fond of Dredd and knows his intentions are honest and he means no ill; and in order to assist him in staying out of trouble, he asks Joseph to spend two days a week at the Academy, training cadets. Dredd feels honored and asks him what he would be teaching - unarmed combat or marksmanship? Fargo simply replies, “Ethics.”
Elsewhere at the Aspen Penal Colony, Warden Miller is visiting Rico Dredd (Armand Assante), to deliver a package to the prisoner from a mysterious benefactor. It is actually a gun which Rico uses to kill the Warden with. A while ago, Rico was also a judge, and in fact, he was a good friend of Joseph. However, he was dismissed and judged by Joseph for killing civilians. That ended their friendship. After he escapes from prison, Rico once again dons his uniform and claims his Lawgiver gun, also taking on as partner, a decommissioned combat robot. His first target is a journalist (incidentally the gentleman had carried out a smear campaign against Joseph for the summary executions) - everyone was aware that the scribe was against Joseph, and so, he is arrested for the murder and sentenced on the evidence of DNA left on the murder weapon.
An interesting twist is the Jekyll & Hyde aspect to the story - the two men share the same DNA, as part of the Janus Project, they were genetically engineered. While Joseph became the perfect judge, Rico turned into the perfect criminal. The film takes off from here, following the proverbial Good vs. Evil battle between Joseph Dredd and Rico Dredd.
Based on the character from 2000 AD, it is the longest running comic strip since its conception in 1977. The comic was created by UK’s John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. In 1995, director Danny Cannon decided to adapt it to celluloid. The amazing armor costume for Stallone was designed by none other than the late Gianni Versace himself. Best avoided if you’re a fan of the original comic strip! No resemblance there! Some of the concepts of a futuristic disaster are easy to imagine, and this movie serves a drastic vision of society, can watch if one is interested in these.