Robowar (Italy 1988)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/5/22
Cast: Reb Brown, Catherine Hickland, Massimo Vanni, Romano Puppo, Max Laurel, Jim Gaines, John Dulaney, Mel Davidson

A combat cyborg goes berserk in a Southeast Asian jungle, which provides a perfect opportunity to see how it fares against a crack commando unit called BAM, or "big-ass motherfuckers." I don't understand why they went with "big-ass" instead of "bad-ass," but maybe that got lost in translation. So Major Murphy Black (Reb Brown) and his team of kill-happy psychotic soldiers are sent to search for "something," unaware of what the real mission is or the extreme danger that they're up against.

It's a blatant rip-off of "Predator" (1987) and a hilariously absurd piece of testosterone-fueled gun porn. As a group of professional killers, they take immense joy in their work and have absolutely no regard for conserving ammo. Every foe or potential threat that they encounter gets filled with literally hundreds of bullets. Excessive firepower is just a reflection of their tortured psyches and the horrors of war that they've experienced, and sometimes they all just shoot blindly into the jungle, screaming with impotent rage. They also rescue an attractive young woman (Catherine Hickland) from a nasty group of enemy soldiers, just to prove how noble and honorable they are. The dialog is embarrassingly awful, and nearly all of it is pointless bro-talk. The film ends abruptly and with little closure, leaving the audience to ponder Murphy's fate.

On the plus side, it's a decent looking film and the Filipino jungle locations are beautiful. It's an oppressively hot and humid environment, and you can tell that the actors are sweltering and miserable throughout, which lends the film a certain amount of credibility. The gratuitous gore effects look fairly good, which makes sense as the crew was shooting back-to-back with "Zombie 4." The action, as ridiculous as it is, never lets up, so the film is never boring. However, the monotonous and repetitive electronic music score gets old really quickly. The acting is about what you'd expect, and matches the horrible dialog. The killer cyborg is laughable, has a squeaky synthesized voice, and utilizes a really annoying and overused "cyber vision" effect. The film also suffers from some glaring continuity issues, and the guns that the characters are carrying constantly change. The worst offender is a scene of the group walking through the jungle that includes two characters that already died. The final insult is that Jim Gaines and Massimo Vanni have their names swapped in the credits. Is it a good film? Definitely not. But if you like mindless exploitation films with sweaty guys shooting machine guns and blowing things up in the jungle, then it can be a fun way to pass a couple of hours.