Gunhed (Japan 1989)

Rating: **
Director: Masato Harada (Alan Smithee in the American print)
Cast: Masahiro Takashima, Brenda Bakke, Mickey Curtis

Another great looking, but boring as hell, Japanese science fiction film full of giant robots, special effects, and things blowing up. Thirteen years after the war with the super computer Kyron 5, a team of bandits show up to raid Kyron 5's island fortress for salvagable materials. Instead, half of the cast gets wiped out in the first ten minutes of the film. The only surviving bandit (Masahiro Takashima), aided by two annoying kids, a totally awesome Texas Air Ranger bitch (anglo Brenda Bakke), and a salvaged Gunhed assault robot, take on Kyron 5's forces to stop it from being reborn. Heavily borrows elements from "The Terminator" (1984) and "Aliens" (1986), but is still fresh and unique - it's just too slow, juvenile, and awkwardly sentimental to be taken seriously. The special effects and miniature work are utterly spectacular and are the real stars of the show. The English dubbing is surprisingly good, and the film was obviously made with the intention of having both an American and Japanese market. In fact, the original Japanese soundtrack is almost dysfunctional, as the main characters converse in different languages.