Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Robot Jox

Robot Jox
dir. Stuart Gordon
cast: Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo

In the aftermath of World War III, the remaining superpowers agree to outlaw war and settle disputes by means of one to one giant robot combat. The Market's (roughly the USA) top pilot, Achilles, retires after an accident in one of his battles results in the death of spectators. With the state of Alaska up for grabs, the brass try to replace him with a genetically engineered successor, but realising the inexperienced Gene-Jox doesn't stand a chance, Achilles signs on for one last fight.
Essentially translating all the cliches of the ageing boxer film into a post-apocalypse dystopia, all Robot Jox lacks on this front is a montage sequence, though admittedly boxers don't quit because his robot fell into a crowd of spectators, killing 300 people. If the drama is cliched, the meat here is the stop-motion robot combat, which is a real joy, and the only problem is that there isn't enough of it.
The screenplay is by legendary sci-fi writer Joe Haldeman, and was apparently butchered by Gordon into a more simplistic film, which leads you to wonder what the film would have been like if Haldeman had his way. Frustratingly, this has been his only foray into screen-writing bar an episode of the Twilight Zone and none of his novels have ever been filmed.

Far removed from the Lovecraftian schlock of his better known movies, you can spot Gordon regular Jeffrey Combs in a bit part as a prole betting on a fight.

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