Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Dystopiarama - Robot Jox (1990)

A bit of a bizarre entry for this sub heading but this film is, nonetheless, a Dystopic film.

Robot Jox is a 1990 Sci-fi/Action film directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Gary Graham and no one else of any note, well, apart from a very young looking Jeffrey Combs in a role credited as "Prole #1".

This film is unusual for its time as it makes extensive use of stop motion and puppetry in order to portray the battle robots that play a large part in the films plot.

The plot is thus:-
In the late 21st century, the Earth is suffering the after effects of global resource wars, and, having seen the devastation and total pointlessness of nuclear conflict, the remaining nations of the world have formed themselves into two power blocs, The Free Market and the Confederation, and totally banned open warfare.
Instead of fighting in senseless and wasteful war, conflicts are instead sorted via a gladiatorial contest known simply as "The Games".

The games differ from previous gladiatorial contests, as they are fought using battle robots, piloted by warriors known as "Robot Jox".

The rules of the games seem fairly simple (or as simple as I can make them out to be from watching this movie) :-

#1 - Both sides may only enter one robot to fight per battle.
#2 - The robot may be armed with whatever weapons or technology the owners choose, and there is no obligation for either side to reveal what weapons or technology their robot is equipped with.
#3 - Once a robot has entered the battle arena, regardless of who is piloting it, it is considered that the challenge has been accepted. Leaving the arena without referee permission results in disqualification.
#4 - Combat will continue until one robot or Robot Jox is unable to continue.
#5 - All referee stipulations and directions are to be obeyed immediately and without question, failure or refusal to do so results in disqualification and forfeiture of the match.

The "Markets" best pilot is Jim, who fights under the alias "Achilles". Achilles is on the verge of surviving and winning 10 matches in a row, a feat only accomplished by his mentor, the Texan tactical advisor Tex Conway, who 10 years previously managed to destroy the Confederations most powerful robot with what he claims was a lucky shot from his vehicle, which was little more than a super heavy tank back in the days when bipedal walking war machines were unheard of.

Achilles is to fight the Confederations "Alexander", a ruthless russian pilot for the territory of Alaska, which if he wins will mark the end of his contract with the Market, however Alexander says he will kill Achilles and stop him achieving his goal.
Their match gets off to a good start, with both robots exchanging ranged fire with machine guns and missiles, before opening up on each other with lasers.
Alexanders robot fires a long blast from its laser cannon, but Achilles manages to deflect it with a piece of reflective armour located on his robots arms, then he plans to hit back with their secret weapon, the "Green Laser", which their science boffin, Dr. Matsumoto, says should guarantee them victory, however, they soon find that they have a spy in their midst when Achilles fires his Green Lasers, only for Alexander to deflect the blasts using his own reflective armour plates. The referees switch off both robots ranged weapons, so the action switches to melee combat, and Achilles is placed at a disadvantage as Alexander relentlessly pummels him with repeated blows from his robots hydraulic fists, but, just as Achilles thinks he has regained his advantage and damages his opponents robot with a hidden cutting torch, Alexander cheats and reveals that his secret weapon is the ability for his robot to fire one of its fists like a missile, which malfunctions and veers towards the crowd. Achilles throws his machine in the way and manages to block the out of control missile, but his robot falls on to the bleachers, and 300 people are killed. The match is declared a draw, as although Alexander won the match, he broke the rules by using a projectile weapon when at the time they were prohibited, so a rematch is to be fought in 1 week.

Achilles then decides he has fulfilled his obligation and decides to retire, but is alarmed when he is told his place will be taken by a new breed of genetically engineered soldiers called "Gen-Jox", who have superior strength, endurance and reactions, but who are completely inexperienced and extremely arrogant.

As the film goes on, The spy is revealed and Achilles ends up fighting Alexander once more for revenge.

The film is really good, considering its subject matter, and the special effects for the robots are amazing considering not one bit of CGI was used.
That said, the acting is somewhat hammy and the characters spew out line after line of cliched dialogue, but this doesnt alter the fact that this film is a nice, fun film, which will appeal to young and old alike.

If you want to watch this film, you can find it HERE

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