Plot: Major Murphy Black (Reb Brown) is the best of the best, a commando with the kind of skills that make the mere mention of his name cause fear in his enemies. He leads an elite squad of mercenaries known as the Big Ass Mother Fuckers, a colorful and highly effective group that always completes their missions. The group has been dispatched into the deep jungles to liberate a medical center and track down Omega One, though little is known about the latter part of the assignment. The commandos easily easily navigate the jungle depths, but begin to find bodies that have been ravaged by some kind of violent attacks. As the group pushes forward, they run into local guerrilla fighters and of course, dispatch them with little effort. But the shredded corpses continue to pile up, so the mercenaries know whatever Omega One is, it must be behind these brutal killings, so even their skills will be tested. What is Omega One and can even Murphy’s band of commandos take it down?
Entertainment Value: This over the top 80s action overload combines the talents of Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso, and Rossella Drudi, so you know Robowar is going to be a memorable ride. The narrative is an obvious knockoff of Predator, but there’s also some nice Robocop vibes blended in, so this is all about elite soldiers in a battle for survival. The movie borrows a lot more from Predator than just the premise, as a lot of the scenes echo moments in the Arnold classic, but Robowar puts that special Italian schlock twist in throughout. I still think this is a rock solid action movie in general, but the b movie elements are a welcome inclusion and a low rent take on the concept is a fun alternative. I’d rank this as one of the more polished, traditional efforts from Bruno Mattei, as the action scenes are well staged and always competent, while the general production values are better than you might expect. The odd touches just make the movie even more fun to watch, such as the ridiculous cyborg stalker, awkward dialogue, and outlandish, epic finale. I would recommend this fans of Mattei’s work, but also to anyone who has an appreciation for 80s action movies, as Robowar is a lot of fun and has a lot to offer action fans.
No nakedness. This one is all about the action and bulging muscles of our commandos, so no sleaze to report in this instance. Robowar isn’t as drenched in blood as some of Mattei’s pictures, but it has some bursts of the red stuff. A highlight for me was a wild exploding person sequence, which looked ridiculous, but also so cool, so I have to give props there. The mutilated corpses have some more than decent makeup effects, the booby traps provide some light blood, and a couple of notable sequences ramp up the crimson a little. But I do wish the frequent gun battles would have been soaked in squibs and splashes of blood, as the 80s intended. As for the action scenes, they are a lot of fun to watch and have rock solid production values in most cases. A good amount of gun fights, explosions, and generation action set pieces, all in line with the over the top nature of the genre in the 80s. The dialogue delivers one liners, bad jokes, and ample tough guy talk, as well as some offbeat and awkward exchanges. And of course, there is a lot of yelling while shooting endless streams of bullets into the jungle, which is always a good time. The craziness mostly falls in line with 80s action tropes, but the b movie elements do move the needle at times. The macho lines, Reb Brown’s unique magic, and the Omega One all help raise the score, while the over the top, out of control finale also boost things a little.
Overall Insanity: 5/10
The Disc: Severin Films rolls out the red carpet for Robowar, with a new 4k scan sourced from the original camera negative. I doubt even the most steadfast fans of this one ever imagined this kind of visual presentation, as the movie looks fantastic and much better than any of the versions I’ve seen before. The print looks excellent, clean and clear throughout, with minimal wear or age signs present. The lush jungle color scheme looks bright and natural, with rich greens and deep browns, while detail is strong and easily the sharpest version I’ve seen. Another absolute home run presentation for a cult classic from Severin Films. The extras include a host of new, informative interviews with Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi, Catherine Hickland, John P. Dulaney, Jim Gaines, Jr., and Massimo Vanni. These are so cool to watch, as the participants are mostly open and candid, leading to some fun, insightful comments. The disc also includes Hickland’s behind the scenes videos, as well as the film’s trailer.
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Hey – top stuff! – I need to ask – what made you want to seek out and watch Robowar? I’m intrigued to understand how this became a cult hit!
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I watch a pretty wide scope of movies, I can’t see everything, but I try to watch anything that seems a little interesting. I’m a Bruno/Claudio fan though for sure.
Cool. I’m in a phase of wanting to watch some fun, obscure films most people wom’t have heard of. Y’know – movies where you might see em on the shelf and think “WTF is that!?!”
Can you recommend anything random?