Sunday, January 24, 2010

Robot Jox (1990)

Quick Synopsis: Fifty years after nuclear devastation, the world is controlled by two factions (which for all intensive purposes here are clearly the U.S. and Russia.) who settle territorial disputes with human controlled mega-robots that square off in winner take all battle royales.

One thing is for sure, I would have a lot more interest in sports if any of them had giant robot fights. Born too soon, I guess. As it stands, there's always low budget sci-fi cheese like Robot Jox to appease my oil-lust. Never mind the plausibility issues here, like how technology has gotten so advanced in such a short time since the world was apparently decimated by nuclear war or why all of the next generation pilots (robot jox) have rat tail hairstyles, this movie lives and dies by the battles which are solid if not too infrequent.

The opening match pits the strongest of the two factions against each other with Alaska being the prize due to its richness in oil and timber. Achilles is the all-American hero; his weakness being not so much his heel, but rather his propensity for overacting vs. Alexander, who is basically a pudgier Ivan Drago. And like all good Commies, Alexander tries to cheat by using an unsanctioned flying weapon that veers wildly towards the crowd. Achilles, of course, throws himself via robot in front of the projectile, only to have it knock his transformer, excuse me, robot, into the stands, killing hundreds. I think its fair to question the logic of having bleachers full of spectators surrounding two 30 story tall robots whose sole purpose is to knock each other over, but whatever...the match is determined to be a draw and re-scheduled for one week later.

And this is where Robot Jox kind of loses its way. The next hour surrounds Achilles grappling with whether or not he will fight again, a group of genetically engineered next gen robot jox vying for his position if he does retire (which does include a fantastic scene where they compete for his spot by climbing the world's most poorly constructed jungle gym and of course, Achille's pseudo love interest) and a confusing spy saga. Nevertheless, where the hell did the robots go?

Anyways, eventually the final battle comes to fruition. It is both awesome and strangely heartwarming and the very last scene is a fist bump between two sworn enemies so yeah, its got that going for it.

Note: Pay special attention to the martial arts fight between Achilles and Athena in his apartment as her stunt double is clearly a much taller, white man (she is neither) with a five o'clock shadow.



  1. I love this movie and remember it fondly along with arena from watching random sci-fi movies with my dad.
    It was only when I watched it years later that I noticed the exact moment they ran out of money, which is during the final fight which is basically them hitting each other with sticks, before giving that awful ending line! Still gotta love it. Cool review

  2. The movie (what little I've seen of it) is excruciatingly lame - Just Like The Novelization.

    Robert Thurston may not have been able to improve at all on the movie, but his original novel _Set of Wheels_ is one of the best books I have ever read.