Trailer Terrors: Robot Jox (1990)

During the 1980's, and early 90's, the BattleTech franchise dominated the geek market with arena-style combat between monolithic robots called BattleMechs. From board games to video games, BattleMechs laid claim over aspiring computer engineers everywhere and formed a devoted and obsessed fan base that couldn't get enough of the series. It was no surprise then, that in 1990 Hollywood tapped in to the market with the full-feature film Robot Jox.

Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and co-written by Gordon and Joe Haldeman, Robot Jox hit the scene and then was quickly forgotten. The movie typically gets bad reviews, scoring only 4.7 stars on IMDB, but I personally enjoy Robot Jox despite it being low-budget and outdated. For some reason it still manages to keep me entertained and more so than most current films. It's like a hybrid between Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots and the movie Best of the Best. OK, I know that sounds bad, and maybe it's just the nostalgia from me remembering how much I loved robots as a child, but Robot Jox is a very fun, if not funny, movie to watch.

The plot takes place in a post-nuclear holocaust where radiation left over from a previous world war burns the air. The act of war has become outlawed and territorial disputes are settled by one-on-one battles between two giant machines piloted by humans called "Robot Jox." Acting as military soldiers, a term of service for a Jox is ten battles, however, no Jox has ever survived ten before. Except for the greatest Robot Jox ever, Achilles. Achilles, who is played by Gary Graham of Alien Nation, is fighting his tenth match when catastrophe strikes and hundreds of spectators are crushed by his falling robot. The match ends in a draw and Achilles is allowed a rematch with his opponent, but with the loss of innocent lives on his conscience and years of battles in the arena wearing him out, Achilles must first regain the confidence within himself in order to get his head back in to the game or else die at the hands of his opponent!

The backstory, though simple as it is, makes the plot seem like it has more depth than it actually does. No political dispute directly involved in the plot actually gets settled. Instead, one Jox after the other would hijack a robot in some defiant fit of rage in order to settle a drunken bar-room brawl from the night before. That's still awesome in my book! Who wouldn't want to get drunk and then pilot a gigantic skyscraper-sized robot, loaded to the teeth with artillery? Robot Jox also stars Paul Koslo from the movie Mr. Majestyk and Anne-Marie Johnson from the comedy tv-series In Living Colour.

Growing up having weekly movie nights with a family of horror fanatics, Long Tran spent many of his early years traumatized by nightmares of scantily clad she-wolves and maniac cops. Now he writes about it at his blog The Midnight Brood, for all the people who grew up sneaking out of their bedrooms in the middle of the night to watch that horror movie that mommy and daddy didn't want them to watch.


  1. Paxton said...:

    I've never seen this, but I want to. It looks terrible and hilarious all at the same time.

  1. Strange Kid said...:

    I tried watching it once... it's absolutely ludicrous and yet entertaining in a rubberneck sort of way, haha. Definitely different for a Stuart Gordon flick.

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