Monday, April 19, 2010
Robot Jox (1990)
The picture is a mash up of Rocky IV, Starship Troopers, and Voltron. We got the reluctant American hero known as Achilles (a solid Gary Graham) versus the lovably loony Russian, Jox Alexander (Paul Koslo). Koslo has a blast as the villain. His performance leaves the earth's atmosphere (literally and figuratively). He encompasses nearly every Russian stereotype and does it all with a ridiculously absurd accent. At one point, telling Achilles over drinks, "you make my vodka taste like blood." The picture opens with Alexander destroying the robot of one of Achille's teammates in battle and then stomping on the cockpit until the poor guy is dead, cackling with delight as he does it. The referees seem mildly pissed off as a result (yes, these battles are pointlessly refereed). No suspension or forfeiture though. Just a little tongue lashing.
So, we got this awesome villain and a hero in Achilles who isn't perfect. He's a drunk, a misogynist, kind of an all around asshole. Still, it's a tribute to Graham's performance that we actually kinda like the guy. The first battle between Alexander and Achilles is a memorable one. It ends when Alexander's robot launches an errant missile/giant robot hand that locks in on a few thousand spectator's seated comfortably in the bleachers. Achilles blocks the missile with his robot chest to save the crowd. Unfortunately, the blow knocks him backwards crushing hundreds. As a result, spectators are barred from future contests and the match is declared a draw. Also, Achilles retires in shame (a retirement which predictably will be short lived).
In addition to Achilles we also got a female robot jock with the code name Athena. She's a fucking annoying character but thankfully we see her bare assed in the co-ed shower scene (predating Starship Troopers by nearly a decade). She's cocky, hotheaded and, ultimately, incompetent especially when it comes to piloting a giant robot. Sure, she does well enough during training exercises (including one that results in death or paralysis if you fail) but when the chips are down (i.e. ownership of Alaska) she comes up short. Also, she pretends to be Achilles to get access to his robot for the final fight and then proceeds to get the shit kicked out of her by Alexander.
There are other parts of this picture I liked such as the scene when a traitor is unmasked and he makes a hilarious "getaway". The sets are cheap. We're talking painted cardboard. The special effects veer from the adequate to awful like the part where the giant robot foot is coming directly at the control tower window (reminded me of the shot where Jaws swims towards the underwater window at Seaworld and then Lou Gossett jr. tried to fend it off with his cane). The robots are brought to life with what looks like a combination of model work, stop motion animation, and men in suits. The last battle between Achilles and Alexander includes a moment where they launch their robots into space which serves no purpose other than to have a scene take place in space. And then this thing ends just like Rocky IV minus the awkward speech. Shit man, I had a great time with this picture.