Starring Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo, Robert Sampson, Danny Kamekona, Hilary Mason, Michael Alldredge
Directed By Stuart Gordon
My scarce memories of Robot Jox stem more from the trailer than from my first (and only) viewing of the film way back in the early 90s. When Will and I were scheduling reviews for the remainder of 2010, I plopped Robot Jox on there as an excuse to revisit this long forgotten gem after all of these years. Imagine my surprise when Will got back to me with the news that it was an Empire film! …Doh! Being only about 11 years old at the time, I obviously had no idea. Since Will is our resident expert on all things Charles Band, I was a little wary about taking the reigns, but he has given his blessing and I’m proud to contribute my first entry into the long running Empire / Full Moon series here at Silver Emulsion!
Any movie fan who even occasionally dips their feet into the waters of Science Fiction no doubt has seen their share of dystopian futures. You have heavy-handed, big-brother police states like 1984, rain-slicked neon cyberpunk slums ala Blade Runner, and the savage survival world of Mad Max. That’s all fine and dandy, but all we really need to solve the serious problems of the future are gigantic fucking robots stomping the balls off of each other out in the arid hills of Death Valley.
The film itself spends most of its time hashing out the drama between Human “Jox” and the new breed of genetically engineered warriors intended to replace them in the pilot’s seat. Achilles is the last of the old-school, human pilots. Fighting his tenth and final battle against a bunch of pasty, platinum blonde Russians. His mech is knocked back into the stands, where hundreds of innocent spectators are crushed. The match is declared a draw. Devastated, Achilles announces his retirement. He comes across one of the new DNA-spliced “tubies” named Athena, who gets his raging man hormones in a knot by essentially calling him a pussy who is ending his career on a technicality.
Athena is built like a supermodel, but has that whole sweaty and masculine Linda Hamilton / Brigitte Nielsen thing going on. She also sports a Kid N’ Play fade and knows karate. But Achilles obviously has a thing for her despite her unorthodox appearance and merciless tough girl act. When she is eventually chosen as his successor in the arena, he simply can’t take it anymore and finally returns to the ring and blah blah blah blobbity bloo… that’s all wonderful. If you’re watching a movie about giant robot wars I’m sure romantic angles and international diplomacy are probably the last things on your mind. Let’s get to the robots!
I have to take a moment to note the brilliant use of sound as well. The lumbering behemoths sound like stacks of iron girders pounding against each other during battles. Folding arms and bending knees are punctuated by loud metallic screeches which sound like the worn brakes of a school bus or an eighteen wheeler. Be sure to crank it up (at least during the battles) because this one rocks!
If this is what the future holds for mankind, then sign me up… Load your nukes, plunge the world into chaos, and let’s start working on our big fucking diplomacy-settling robots. The future of combat is now. Let’s do this shit! Crash and burn!