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Awfully Good: Robot Jox

07.10.2013

PACIFIC RIM is an epic blast, but I was getting a serious case of déjà vu while watching it…

Robot Jox (1990)

Director: Stuart Gordon
Stars: Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo

Transformers meets Mighty Morphin Power Rangers meets the game of Risk.

You may know director Stuart Gordon for his work in the horror genre, from H.P. Lovecraft adaptations of RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND to the twisted man-in-windshield drama STUCK. But what you may not know is that somewhere in between there, Gordon made a giant fighting robot movie. And it was cheesy and amazing and awful and good.


Sadly for Achilles, his "robot" was not more than meets the eye.

Well, it’s a giant fighting robot movie in spirit, at least. There are really only two robot fights in ROBOT JOX, one in the first act and one at the end, and neither are that spectacular. Half of each battle involves the opponents just standing around shooting lasers and missiles at each other. (It's not as exciting as it might sound.) I’ll give Gordon credit for using stop-motion animation as opposed to men-in-suits, thus sparing ROBOT JOX from Power Rangers-style fights, but if you’re expecting an action-packed sci-fi flick you’ll be pretty disappointed. ROBOT JOX doesn’t even have GODZILLA-level destruction, let alone half the action glimpsed in just one of the five PACIFIC RIM trailers. Instead we’re treated to 80 minutes of poorly realized apocalyptic future, hilariously evil Russians and one hell of an awkward "love" story.


"I’m Powers Boothe…"

The future world order has been destroyed by nuclear annihilation. Now the remaining two factions of humanity (USA vs. Russia, natch) are fighting for land and global domination. However, instead of beating the crap out of each other in real war, they solve their differences in carefully refereed "games," where guys controlling big ass automatons duke it out for territory. Essentially they’re playing a real life game of Risk with giant Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots. That’s ROBOT JOX in a nutshell.


"…now I’m Billy Bob Thornton…"

Even if the action isn't memorable, the robot designs are at least fun, with the mechs boasting the standard laser cannons, flying fists and chainsaw penises. (More on that later!) However, the rest of the movie is a cheesy relic of the late 80s Cold War flicks with stereotypical characters and cliché plot points. Writer Joe Halderman, author of "The Forever War," claims he wrote a more serious sci-fi film, but director Gordon insisted on dumbing JOX down to a Saturday morning cartoon. The only real surprising beat in the movie is the priceless scene where our hero tries to save a crowd of onlookers from being injured by an incoming robot missile…and instead falls on the bleachers, ending 300 innocent lives.


"…now I’m go f*ck yourself!"

Star Gary Graham overacts like a champ as the sulky hero Achilles ("I'm gonna get in this thing, and I'm gonna KICK…YOUR…ASSSSSSS!") while looking like an intriguing mix between Billy Bob Thornton, Tate Donovan and a young Powers Boothe—depending on the camera angle and lighting. He’s also oddly illiterate, which has no bearing on the story, but is brought up nonetheless. Anne-Marie Johnson plays love interest Athena, a genetically engineered, disturbingly masculine fellow pilot. However, the true MVP of ROBOT JOX has to be Paul Koslo as Alexander the bloodthirsty Ruskie villain, the best of his kind since Ivan Drago. Alexander exists solely to laugh evilly and taunt our hero with hilarious one-liners about death and blood.


Wow, some people are seriously morans.

All that animosity between the American and the Russians comes to a head in the drawn-out final showdown, which runs the gamut of robots fighting on land, robots fighting in space (?!), a robot turning in to what can only be described as a mentally handicapped tank, and finally human hand-to-hand combat. And I can't be the only person that noticed the not-so-subtle robot anal rape scene, where Alexander flips over Achilles' bot so its metal ass is in the air, unleashes a phallic chainsaw out of his crotch, and then proceeds to hump/cut him in to submission. That really happened, right?


Audiences were not kind when John Goodman brought his own cowboy interpretation to the role of The Thing.

However, that still doesn’t hold a candle to my favorite part of the movie: the ending. I will now spoil the conclusion of ROBOT JOX, which I have no problem doing due to how stupid it is. In the final scene, after years of national hatred, attempted murder and trash talk, the American hero tells the Russian villain (out of nowhere) that they can both be friends and live. Then the two men awkwardly smile and the movie ends…with them fist bumping. No joke.

A sample of Russian villain Alexander's awesome one-liners.

An epic hero fail, robot anal rape and the world's dumbest ending.

You get an eyeful of the genetically engineered girl’s "champion" ass.


Crash and burn! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Someone says "Crash and burn" for good luck
  • The hero’s scars change position, size or texture
  • You can see strings on the special effects
  • Alexander says something awesome
  • Someone gets slapped on the ass
Double shot when:
  • FIST BUMP!

Thanks to Richard and Stephen for suggesting this week's movie!


NOTE: Jason will be at Comic Con next week and looking for Awfully Good movies! If you're bringing a B-movie to the Con, send him an email or follow him on Twitter and give him a heads up.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: Trent Reznor must really love this movie. He sampled screams from the tragic crowd scene in the Nine Inch Nails' song "The Becoming" from The Downward Spiral.
Source: JoBlo.com

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3:46PM on 07/10/2013
Don't forget Cash and Burn, and Robot Wars.
[link]
[link]
Don't forget Cash and Burn, and Robot Wars.
[link]
[link]
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2:55AM on 07/11/2013
CRASH & BURN
Robot Wars is on YouTube in its entirety
CRASH & BURN
Robot Wars is on YouTube in its entirety
6:58AM on 07/10/2013
Robot Jox is okay. A person does not mind watching it. And, let's face something. Giant robot movies are giant cheez. And, Robot Jox captures that truth perfectly. I am glad that Awfully Good covered this viewing option.

Say, does anyone remember the Shogun Warriors from an even earlier time than Robot Jox? The Warriors were toys for kids. They were giant robots (who fought each other and Godzilla), and they qualify also as outstanding kitsch.
Robot Jox is okay. A person does not mind watching it. And, let's face something. Giant robot movies are giant cheez. And, Robot Jox captures that truth perfectly. I am glad that Awfully Good covered this viewing option.

Say, does anyone remember the Shogun Warriors from an even earlier time than Robot Jox? The Warriors were toys for kids. They were giant robots (who fought each other and Godzilla), and they qualify also as outstanding kitsch.
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3:27AM on 07/10/2013

ROBOT JOX

I remember getting a "TEST TICKET" for this turd and ended up throwing my survey sheet AT THE SCREEN at the end of this stupid movie.... HOWEVER, I met Gary Graham down in san Diego a few years back (he and co-stars from Alien Nation the TV Show were hoping for a revival- [link] anyway Gary is a wonderful guy and wants you all to forget this abysmal piece of shit once and for all... I cant let it go... I got him to autograph his picture FROM this movie too... DUH... NOT Alien Nation the TV SHOW
I remember getting a "TEST TICKET" for this turd and ended up throwing my survey sheet AT THE SCREEN at the end of this stupid movie.... HOWEVER, I met Gary Graham down in san Diego a few years back (he and co-stars from Alien Nation the TV Show were hoping for a revival- [link] anyway Gary is a wonderful guy and wants you all to forget this abysmal piece of shit once and for all... I cant let it go... I got him to autograph his picture FROM this movie too... DUH... NOT Alien Nation the TV SHOW either... LOL
this doesnt stand the test of time... in fact it was shelved for months after it's test screening for testing so goddamn awful ... I think it eventually was released about 9 months after we saw it for free ...
Since then I've added it to my collection of horrible movies... it's great for a late night rainy day fest along side THE STUFF or Killer Klowns from Outer Space or Plan NINE from Outer Space or Morons From Outer Space... getting the pattern? it's still a fun movie... just dont expect much ... actually expect nothing but some unexpected laughs.... I've waited since 1990 for a movie like Pacific Rim to come along... it's a shame that it's taken them this long to finally do a decent live action fighting robots movie..
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+2
3:07AM on 07/10/2013
ah man. i remember seeing this when it came out. I dont remember anything about it.
ah man. i remember seeing this when it came out. I dont remember anything about it.
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-2
2:22AM on 07/10/2013

Best movies you never saw

Disorganized Crime, Adventures of Ford Fairlane. You're welcome in advance! ;)
Disorganized Crime, Adventures of Ford Fairlane. You're welcome in advance! ;)
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1:30AM on 07/10/2013
Hmm, not to rain on anybody's parade here but wasn't Robot Jox featured in Awfully Good column a while back, maybe a year ago? I remember that Powers Boothe/Billy Bob Thornton/Go Eff Yourself joke. Anyhow, I love this movie. It's really an awfully good movie. Though the special effects look dated, it's still a fun movie to watch.
Hmm, not to rain on anybody's parade here but wasn't Robot Jox featured in Awfully Good column a while back, maybe a year ago? I remember that Powers Boothe/Billy Bob Thornton/Go Eff Yourself joke. Anyhow, I love this movie. It's really an awfully good movie. Though the special effects look dated, it's still a fun movie to watch.
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2:58AM on 07/11/2013
the fx look like it came from the 70's or 80s... but this was 1991!!
we showed this one on the side of my church from the back of a pickup truck to an audence of about 30 to 40 Collage kids ... that was a riot
the fx look like it came from the 70's or 80s... but this was 1991!!
we showed this one on the side of my church from the back of a pickup truck to an audence of about 30 to 40 Collage kids ... that was a riot
1:27AM on 07/10/2013
My dad used to love this movie and we would watch it when I was a kid. I think he's forgotten about it and now I need to surprise him with a copy.
My dad used to love this movie and we would watch it when I was a kid. I think he's forgotten about it and now I need to surprise him with a copy.
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12:54AM on 07/10/2013
Yeah it's bad, but in a good way.
Yeah it's bad, but in a good way.
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12:32AM on 07/10/2013
The ending reminded me of "if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!"
The ending reminded me of "if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!"
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3:28AM on 07/10/2013
yup
yup
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