The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Robowar (1989)

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Our buddy from down under, Sutekh, who runs the great blog Explosive Action, sent me a copy of this along with a bunch of others, including the Deadly Prey, almost a year ago. Don't ask me why it's taken me so long to get this and the others he sent me reviewed up here, I guess it's always a matter of timing, but we're finally making it happen.

Robowar is 85 percent Predator, 12 percent Robocop, and 3 percent Philippines Vietnam War film (which equals 100 percent awesome by my calculations, but we'll get to that in the next paragraph). Reb Brown plays the head of a rag tag bunch of ass kicking special forces dudes sent into the jungle after what they think is a band of guerrillas. Not the case, it's actually a cybernetic killer created by the US military that needs to be tested by the best the Army has to offer. Will our boys figure out what they're up against before it's too late? Is it too late anyway?

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Did I mention this was awesome? Yes, in a Deadly Prey or R.O.T.O.R. sense, but still awesome just the same. Reb Brown is Reb Brown, and everything else is as simply fantastic as that synopsis above would suggest. I watched it initially about a year ago with a buddy while he was house sitting, and we were in agreement, this belongs up there with some of the best bad movies ever.

Yep, that's Reb Brown in a belly shirt. And yes, Reb Brown screams a lot in this movie. And no, he doesn't wear the belly shirt the whole time, this scene is the last time we see it. And yes, Reb Brown screams a lot. Did you know this is only the second film of his we've done? I think it's just a by-product of the fact that a lot of his movies are in that third or fourth tier-- maybe fifth tier-- and we're still working our way through the first and second tier of the DTV world. As we get more films of Hall of Famers out of the way, and as I finally give up on those new punchfighting movies, I'll make more room for Reb Brown on here, something that's probably been long overdue. Besides, Sutekh also sent me Strike Commando, so we'll always have that bad boy.

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This is Jim Gaines. He had a significant role in the Gary Daniels classic Final Reprisal, and he's something of an icon in the Philippine cinema world, though if you look at his imdb bio, he has as many bit parts and cameos as he does big roles like he did here and in the Daniels film. Also of note on his imdb bio: he apparently was in the new The Rock movie Faster. I haven't seen it yet, but even if the movie sucks, the fact that he's in it, for however long he's in it, is awesome. Here's to you Jim Gaines, you're one of the good ones.

Another one of the good ones: Catherine Hickland, who plays Virgin. I think it was supposed to be Virginia, but that's what they listed her as in the credits. I guess it's apt, considering the land of Virginia was named after the virgin queen Elizabeth. Anyway, I thought I recognized her as a Soap actress, and I was right, One Life to Live, but even better, she was married to The Hoff, as in David Hasselhoff, and co-starred in a couple episodes of Knight Rider, including one where The Hoff infiltrates a rock band. Now she's married to a dude whose real name is Michael Knight, but I guess she filed for divorce there too.

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I wanted to point out this scene, because it hit me, the reason why these movies from the 80s and 90s worked so well, and these newer ones don't so much. You can say what you want about Bruno Mattei, good or bad, or about Albert Pyun, or about any other B-movie director, but the one thing they always are is a movie director, not a music video director. I mean, would we see a scene like this in a modern DTV flick? Not just the skull rock, but holding on the shot, and holding on it for more than .1 seconds. I think if you're an "avid fart" film maker, you should watch Robowar and know that you're not better than this, as much as you'd like to think you are.

Obviously this is a tough find. Sutekh sent me his copy of a Japanese VHS-- it even had the Japanese subtitles. Amazon doesn't have it, but it is on YouTube as of the writing of this post, cut into multiple parts, and with the same Japanese subs. I won't put the link, just because those things change as people add and close accounts, but if you go to YouTube and type in Robowar, it'll pop up.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096000/

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the kind compliment. Hope you will feel the same after seeing my directot's cut of Cyborg which was recently found by my long time composer Tony Riparetti. He was cleaning out his storage locker when he came across a wide screen telecine of my original work print of the final cut I did for cyborg.

    It had a 35mm work print and a temp mix with Tony's and Jim Saad's music score all of which was thrown out or reworked by JCVD and Cannon.

    It's really a blessing that this "director's cut" was found after 23 years. I am looking forward to Dtv and others reviewing the cut to see if I was really as insane as Cannon thought.

    I prefer to think maybe my vision was a little ahead of the curve. And 2011 is the perfect time for it to be seen.

    Albert

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  2. No problem on the compliment; and I saw something about your director's cut of Cyborg from your Facebook page, and I was pretty excited. I can't wait to check it out.

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  3. Great Review! Can't wait to watch\review this too. Sutekh also sent me a copy of Robowar!

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  4. Oh yeah, you'll love it. It seems like the gift that keeps on giving, huh?

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  5. Hi Matt,

    You and followers can get info on getting the Cyborg Director's Cut at:

    Curnanpictures@gmail.com

    I think it will be surprising as it has Van dame's character narrate thourgout (but in moderation) and it's the cut before having the violence cut back to get an "R" rating.

    It also is a much more introspective film that has the fel of a fever dream a bit. So it's more violent but with a bit more depth (relatively) and it has the film score by Tony riparetti and Jim Saad. This score was thrown out in JCVD' s cut.

    Best,
    Albert Ptun
    Facebook /Albert Pyun

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  6. Great review for a brilliant movie. It really defines 'so bad it's good' and has everything you need in a sci-fi action rip off. Reb Brown is the man!

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  7. It sounds like a lot of the things we liked about the original Cyborg are going to be even better in your cut, which sounds fantastic. I know this is one of those movies that got a lot of us into sci-fi and action flicks, so it'll be cool to see it the way you intended it.

    And Sutekh, all thanks to you, because Robowar wouldn't have been possible if you hadn't thrown it in as an add-on to the already amazing Deadly Prey, so thank you again for that.

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  8. AND this movie was written by Claudio Fragrasso...the mastermind behind Troll 2. And the dude in the robot outfit...that's also Claudio.

    This movie is amazing. I'm so glad I sat through it on youtube. it was so awesome. It even gave birth to a "meme" amongst my friends. Whenever we see someone shooting wildly at something we always shout "PLAN A!" because that's all this movie is. Plan A: Shoot wildly. there is no plan B.

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  9. And if you're looking for more Reb Brown....you HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO check out Yor: The Hunter From the Future. It's so AWESOME.

    Also Space Mutiny, Street Hunter (I believe this is on YouTube as well...stars Steve James) And if you go to Netflix Insant you can see Uncommon Valor

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  10. Hey, thanks for pointing out the Troll 2 connection, I totally forgot to mention that. I like the idea of a Robowar meme too. Mine would be "greasy, greasy", because it sounded like that's what the robot was saying all the time.

    I've heard great things about Yor, so I can't wait to check it out. I plan on doing Yes, Madam, a Cynthia Rothrock flick, in the next coupld weeks, but because that was made in Hong Long and has an original title in Chinese, Yor, whenever I do it, will be the first post for a film starting with the letter "Y". Pretty sweet. I was thinking about doing Cage and Space Mutiny too, so I think we'll have a good amount of Reb Brown in the near future. Make sure you hold me to that though. This blog is littered with my good intentions about actors and movies I wanted to cover that I never got to!

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  11. I mentioned this one a couple of months ago in a blog post I did on Italian rip-offs, I have never seen it, but would love to! It looks like it would be a hilariously good time.

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  12. Oh yeah, I think you'll love it. I'll have to check that post out, because I've just been scratching the surface of this end of the Italian cinematic spectrum, but with some more films, like Lucio Fulci's New Gladiators. available on Netflix, I'm looking to do more.

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  13. Another Bruno Mattei ripoff that's supposedly pretty awesome is Cruel Jaws. People call it Jaws 5 because it steals so much footage from Jaws and The Last Shark.

    And if you're looking for another predator ripoff check out Watchers 3. With WINGS HAUSER!

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  14. I gotcha covered on Watchers III. Cruel Jaws is one I now have on my radar, so thanks for the tip. It looks good.

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  15. DtVC, this film looks absolutely incredible. I just watched the trailer and will be soaking this in over the weekend for sure. Thanks for shining some light on it b/c I wouldn't have found it otherwise.

    You're going to have a lot of fun with Strike Commando, I think. Reb Brown is super screamy in that one and there's a ton of hilarious quotable dialogue.

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  16. Hey, no problem, and bigger thanks go to Sutekh for sending it to me. I've actually seen Strike Commando 1 and 2, last year with a buddy, at the same time we saw this. I don't know why it's taken me so long to review them up here, but we'll take care of that soon. There was another on, Hands of Steel, which Sutekh sent in that package, that I'll do eventually as well. All great stuff.

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  17. Great review! This movie still rocks! I love this movie, I have bought a DVD burning software just to copy this clone/mix of PREDATOR and ROBOCOP movie. =)

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  18. Hi, Papa Doc here. All this talk about ROBOWAR makes me proud I was in it. Of course I'm prouder still having worked with Fellini, Sofia Loren, Burt Lancaster etc.
    Also in YOUTUBE is a copy of a behind-the-scenes video Catherine and I made while filing ROBOWAR. Look for ROBOWAR and my name. Nice review, BTW...

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