A vigilante group – the Neon Knights – are killing robots as vengeance for the Robot Wars. Dredd’s having none of this, and after revealing the leader of the Knights as a cyborg he shuts them down.
Ol’ Stoney Face
Despite what Dredd knows happened during the Robot Wars, and what it cost the Judges, he never expresses any doubt or hesitation in taking down the Knights. Despite the odds, he takes on entire group of Knights on his own. He specifies at the end that the Judges who died at the hands of Call-Me-Kenneth and the robots died upholding law and order, and he will ensure that it is upheld.
According to Walter, Dredd likes his supper served on time.
Friends of Dredd
Walter falls victim to the Neon Knights, and does attempt to stand up for himself. The Knights appear to be particularly displeased that Walter has been granted his freedom, and specifically plan on making an example of him.
But most importantly – Dredd is nice to Walter here! He even says that Walter is worth 50 of the Knights! Yay for Walter!
The Big Meg
The Robot Wars clearly had a subtle impact on the City. This is particularly highlighted when witnesses to the Knights’ crimes refuse to help Dredd, telling him to go catch some “real lawbreakers.” (You’d assume not helping Judges would be a crime…)
There is a Hi-Tower Cemetery which includes Judges who fell defending the city during the Robot Wars. Bizarrely, the Neon Knights have their base of operations so close to this Cemetery that Dredd literally spots them while he’s there.
The City also has something called the Robo-Pound.
Vigilante justice is not tolerated by the Judges.
In the aftermath of the Robot Wars, secret vigilante “Klans” have been formed to take revenge on robots. One such group is the Neon Knights, who ride motorbikes, wear pointed hoods (get it?) and beat robots with blunt instruments. Our opening scene actually shows them taking out Clive, a robot who accidentally knocked down a citizen – and then beating Clive’s owner to death. These are not nice guys.
Their leader however turns out to be a Cyborg – half man, half robot. Dredd’s brief psychoanalysis suggests that the Cybo (another lovely nickname) hated himself and took it out on the robots.
This unmasking quickly turns the other members of the Knights around – to the extent that Dredd is able to conduct them like a choir in a quick performance of “You are the Law, Judge Dredd!”.
Reinforcements arrive to take the Neon Knights away.
Clive and his master get beaten to death by the Knights.
Dredd works well when his essential characteristic of adherence the Law and justice puts him in conflict with human nastiness. The internal continuity with the Robot Wars is great to see here, and goes beyond just the plot. Dredd’s insistence on upholding rights for citizens and robots is matter of fact and well-played. This is what makes the Clint Eastwood-style dialogue work. “I ain’t escaping! I’m takin’ you all on!” works fantastically here, where in a lesser story or scene it is just macho boasting.
Having said all that, the direct connection of the Knights and the Ku Klux Klan are a little on the nose. Some subtlety would have worked better, but with 6 pages to play with I understand the choice.