Monday, April 6

ROBOWAR (1988)

"B.A.M.? Bad Ass Motherfuckers..."

A.K.A. Robowar: Robot da guerra
Directed by Bruno Mattei
92 Minutes / Midnight Video DVD-R / 1.85:1 Widescreen (taken from the Japanese VHS w/ small Japanese subtitles)

After a secret military robot, OMEGA-1, goes apeshit and destroys a bunch of straw huts and a chopper; a crack team of bad ass motherfuckers is sent in to the green inferno on an obliteration mission. Much walking amongst greenery occurs and along the route our boys save a young woman (Catherine Hickland as "Virgin") from the clutches of some evil little brown men. An outsider is in the group, a supervisor who turns out to be the metal man's creator, who may hold the key to end the laser beam rampage...but will he?

Yes, it's an obvious rip-off of '87s Predator, but holy shit is it fun. If there's any doubt in the beginning, Reb Brown arrives with his team off the boat wearing a ridiculous looking tight blue midriff shirt and matching track pants in the first ten minutes. It's safe to say there were no military advisers hired for the project. See something rustling in the foliage? Shoot the piss outta it while screamin'. See something glimmering in the distance? Shoot the piss outta it while screamin'. Stumble upon anyone else with a weapon? Shoot the piss outta 'em while screamin'. Fuck reloading. There's a machine gun rumble in a village midway through that's so chaotic that it's hard to believe there wasn't friendly fire. Still, this is a Mattei action flick, just deal it with and drink another beer...or four.

OMEGA-1 amounts to a dude wearing a black motorcycle helmet, poorly molted black plastic football shoulder pads, black leather pants, and some wires. He constantly and loudly chatters away in robotic monotone every self-command he processes, something like "target centered-proceed, load-proceed, fire-proceed." His computer loves the word "proceed." Though many times the delivery is so fast it all sounds like "tree-tireiron-loadfastdump-proceed." Predator-esqe humming can be heard during his horribly pixelated, sepia tone POV shots. He also sucks at being a "indestructible" warmachine, harboring terrible tracking skill and maintaining lousy battle decision making. Even the team seems unthreatened, upon seeing the robot for the first time one of team members asks "What's that?"

Of course, all of this makes for a hilariously good time. Brown is awesome yet again as the squad leader of B.A.M., with all of his obscenity shouting sounding just as slightly "wrong" as ever to great belly laugh effect. His performance isn't bad here and surprisingly there's large passages of undubbed English, so it appears Mattei had a fairly ample budget to afford sound while filming. The rest of the team is great as well, including Jim Gaines (our friend Snoopy from Island of the Living Dead), salt and peppered haired Romano Puppo (post apocalyptic vet), and Massimo Vanni (countless extra roles). Al Festa creates a catchy score that's somewhere between Carpenter's electronic noodling in Big Trouble in Little China, Silvestri's Hungry Man dinner of composition for Predator, and generic hair metal with screamed lyrics. See it, it deserves a larger following coughing on their popcorn in laughter.

The film appears to only be available on Japanese and Greek VHS, so unless you have a multi-format VCR and a six figure income to slug it out on eBay for one of these tapes, this DVD-R is your best bet. My Oppo 980 DVD player had absolutely no problems playing it, unlike a few other online grey marketers I've dealt with in the past. Also I saw no tracking issues with the VHS-sourced recording.

Film: 7/10
DVD-R Picture: 7/10
DVD-R Sound: 7/10

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