Robot Jox - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Robot Jox Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2011
Some epic robot/mecha fighting going on here with some epic stop motion effects hehe well sort of, its certainly very dated and looks more like an episode of 'Red Dwarf' than a film but its so gloriously tacky and fun.

A Band production (he does churn them out) which does seem to bare a small similarity to the recent 'Reel Steel' but admittedly is more of a mech film. Basically trained fighters combat in massive mechs for control of certain parts of the world which hold value but the fighters are part of a 'Formula 1' type team. Its chock full of silly sci-fi and wonderfully cheesy effects and bluescreen, some of which looks OK some of which looks nasty, but one things for sure the cast do their best to make it seem serious *chuckle*.

Its very easy going stuff and perfect for those sci-fi hounds out there that love a good B-movie and I'm sure we all know of Mr Band's work. Goodies wear white and are team America where as the baddies wear black and are naughty evil team Russia (boo! hiss!) 'crash n burn'.
½ May 13, 2012
A Stuart Gordon sci-fi movie that takes the Thunderdome to mecha catergory. The effects are really good and the acting is solid, but things are a little too blantant about what they represent, and whether or not he intended to
November 19, 2009
A Stuart Gordon sci-fi movie that takes the Thunderdome to mecha catergory. The effects are really good and the acting is solid, but things are a little too blantant about what they represent, and whether or not he intended to, Gordon made an anti-female movie, seriously, the misongny runs rampant here! The female lead steals, bitches, fights, drugs, accuses, beats up, nags, and then destroys the property of the main character. The bad guy simply gets too 'in-the-heat-of-the-moment' during the ending fight and goes too far, but he soon snaps out of it, and the male leads look as if they are about to embrace and kiss tenderly. Overall, fun.
March 6, 2009
I can't for the life of me remember what it was, but there was a grocery store in my youth that my family did not go to often, being as it was a fair distance from our home. They, like a number of grocery stores I knew at that age, had a small movie rental section. This one stuck out because it also rented games--even PC games (which, even then, I thought was awfully stupid). As on walked in, one saw the PC games, but a turn to the right and all the way to the end would find one in the science fiction section, where I saw the rather eye-grabbing cover of Robot Wars. A robotic scorpion "mecha" fighting a more humanoid robot? Really, you would be hard-pressed to find another cover that would draw me in so rapidly and completely. I know that I rented that, and later discovered it had a relative (allegedly a prequel, but not truly one), Robot Jox. I know I rented it as well, and I know I ignored whatever plot there was outside the giant robots in both cases, because that was the only thing that could interest me then. When I discovered Stuart Gordon had directed Jox, I gladly threw down a couple bucks to pick this one up, for nostalgia and for directorial completeness.

Seventy years after a world war that ended in nuclear holocaust, war has been outlawed and has left all territorial combat up to gladiatorial matches between pilots from the two remaining alliances: the Confederation and the Western Market, each piloting a giant mechanical suit, typically anthropomorphic, in both ranged and mle combat. Achilles (Gary Graham, whose other major role was that of Detective Sikes, the human lead on Alien Nation) is the Western Market's strongest pilot, and also the only one alive after Confederation pilot Alexander (Paul Koslo) viciously murders the long since yielded Market opponent in the prologue sequence. Professor Laplace (Hilary Mason) sees this as the perfect opportunity to test her "gene-jox"--genetically engineered warriors designed to be the best pilots in the games. The two primary candidates from this lot are Athena (Anne-Marie Johnson) and Sargon (Thyme Lewis), both proud, cold and arrogant. Achilles has one last battle in his contract though, and he and Alexander duke it out in Death Valley, with the final round of un-ranged combat resulting in a tragic accident that kills 300 spectators. Referees determine the match is a draw, but Achilles is haunted by the image of broken bodies below his robot and refuses to continue, leaving Athena and Sargon the better chance to gain an opportunity to pilot instead.

It's fairly public that there was a conflict between renowned sf author Joe Haldeman, who authored the script, and Stuart Gordon as director and story-writer insofar as tone and audience to aim for, with Haldeman aiming for serious drama and Gordon aiming for caricatured fun for younger people (the term "kids" is typically used, but the end result is too much of a mix for me to believe either was aiming quite that young). Unfortunately, this is all too apparent in the film as shown. While the DVD is a bit more explicit than the original theatrical showings (a teensy bit more violence, for instance), thanks to one of many shrugging studio transfers that neglects to look carefully (not a big issue here, honestly--this version was released internationally, so it's probably nicer to have this lengthier cut, really), it's still a bit childish. It's clear that this is intentional (or perhaps I just hoped it was that clear, knowing Gordon), with the clear idea that the Confederation represents the Soviet Union (still around when this was originally filmed in 1988, its release delayed by the production company, Empire, being bankrupted), and Alexander, despite being played by a German, having a thick and ridiculous "Russian" accent.

Probably the biggest hamper on the film, and I sort of feel bad for saying this even as it's true, is that it's littered with television actors. Certainly, good actors can perform on television primarily or even exclusively, but there's a certain type of actor that seems destined to remain on television, barring brief escapes into low-budget, indie pictures--or maybe bit parts in larger ones. Graham is actually pretty solid as Achilles, at least achieving the right emotional content for scenes that require it and comfortably shrugging into the role itself, even managing both the drunken depression of guilt after the accident and the swaggering braggadocio of a confident sportsman. Koslo is just shy of scenery-chewing as the "Evil Red Menace" (who is never named as such but reeks of this mentality), but is fun and pretty airtight in the role, cartoonish though it may be. Similarly, Michael Alldredge as ex-Jox Tex Conway is a bubbling stereotype (of a Texan! can you believe it?) that works, despite every synapse in my brain screaming out about how ridiculous his accent, hat and mannerisms are. Johnson, Lewis, and Mason, however, are pretty overwhelmed by their roles--or at least underwhelmed by the production--and have ridiculous and cringe-inducing performances, that, despite their earnestness, leave the actors flat on their faces, being neither serious nor stereotypical. Cardboard, perhaps, but not stereotypical (which was allegedly Gordon's aim). The lone soul who appeared interested in a Haldeman-style story was Danny Kamekona, a Hawaiian actor who seems to have a history of being given roles as Japanese, in this case an engineer named Matsumoto, who is behind many of the Market's designs. He's somber and worried throughout, making the clash with Tex Conway over suspicions of espionage on both parts bizarre, even as it mostly works (the physical exchange between the two is poor and sluggish, though).

This is not a hidden gem in Gordon's crown, nor is it a hidden shame--it's a "mixed bag" as we like to say, and the robot scenes (mostly using puppets and the wonderful glory of stopmotion) are almost worth it all on their own--heck, they probably are. The plot with the human portion of the film really isn't too bad, but the weak mainstream-television-style performances put a serious damper on this, as does the mixed tone. Worth seeing, but only if the idea of giant piloted robot combat drops your jaw or sets you salivating.
December 11, 2008
Cheesy, cheesy fun. When you read the description of this, note the year it was made, and who starred in it, were you really expecting quality or comedy? This is best described as 'Death Race with Giant Robots'. Good, unintentional comedy.
August 13, 2008
I liked it, despite it's bare plot and middling acting. Made me want to play Battletech or Mechwarrior right away.
½ July 25, 2008
Live action robot warriors kickcing butt. It could have been a cool idea. But it was 1990 and they really didn't know how to do this kind of thing in ther US yet. In the future, wars are settled with giant metal gladiators driven like Power Rangers, but not as flashy. The idea is done much better in Japan at the time. The dialogue is as wooden and clunky as the robot effects.
½ July 5, 2008
Notorious for the nude buttocks scene of usually demure & beautiful lightskinned Black actress Anne-Marie Johnson, this one was short on Robot fighting action & plot, but veteran heavy Paul Koslo turns in the expected good work as the bad guy...A fun diversion, now that it's out on DVD, nonetheless for sci-fi fanciers...
½ June 27, 2008
Had so much potential, but sucked hard cuz of the directing and special effects. Hope they remake this one. But check it out, it's a classic!
March 18, 2007
Oh for so many sentimental reasons, this "film" is a fave in its awfulness. I paid good money to see it at the Hilltop Mall Cinema senior year with my best friend. We actually stayed for the whole thing, expecting some great catharsis which never materialized. Not even one good monster robot fight to quell our manifest dreams of childhood grandious (Grandizer?) mechanical devestation. Not a one. On parallel with Reign of Fire years later, with dragons in place of mamoth mechs.
July 13, 2007
I was almost speechless at the end of this one. My love for giant fighting robots took a big hit here. Awful and uber-cheesy.
½ April 10, 2007
A great futurist film with great effects. Gary Graham and Anne-Marie Johnson star in the classic 1990 sci-fi film. a cool film to watch.
September 18, 2006
Robot Jox is really really bad... but at the time the machines looked really really god... so there's a conflict of good special fx at the time to really bad acting anytime.
September 14, 2006
Gordon misfires with this one. Fun robots but the story is awful and the women are treated with nothing but contempt.
October 16, 2015
How is the rating of this film so high. If this film was made in the 50s, it might just be ok.
September 17, 2015
This is a great but cheesy movie. If you like robots then cherck this out.
July 20, 2014
A great little late 80s low budget sci fi with horrid acting and hilarious stereotyping. Just short of a really memorable 80s movie. Very Watchable.
½ January 1, 2014
If someone forced me to watch either "Transformers," "Pacific Rim," or "Robot Jox," I would probably go with "Robot Jox." That's not to say this is a good movie. It's the very definition of a B-movie, but it's a good B-movie, and at the end of the day I'd rather watch a good B-movie than a bad A-movie.

The plot is ridiculous to the point of it being unintentionally funny at times. However, this is more of a "so ridiculous it's good" rather than a "so bad it's good." The two semi-sequels "Robot Jox 2: Robot Wars" and "Robot Jox 2: Crash and Burn" are more of the "so bad it's good" variety. By the way, that wasn't a typo, both of the semi-sequels were #2, but neither had anything to do with Robot Jox besides the fact that they had giant robots in them.

At the end of the day, this was silly, funny, and comprehensible. Fans of B-movies should know that a comprehensible plot is not a given by any stretch of the imagination.

If you like 80's sci-fi, giant robots, and B-movies, then I highly recommend this movie to you. If not, stay away. Stay far away.
August 1, 2013
America's first attempt at a live-action giant robot movie. And it really crashed and burned. Go watch Pacific Rim instead.
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