Robot Wars (1993)


Sadly for this film, a few years after its release the British game show of the same name came along and ruined most internet searches for it. In fact, if you look at this film on IMDB the thumbnail picture is from that game show. Perhaps someone at IMDB doesn’t like Full Moon very much, which would explain several of their films having synopses which don’t match the finished product at all.

It’s also not a sequel to “Robot Jox”, despite the poster you can see above. Curiously, along with other non-sequel “Crash and Burn”, with the slightest tweaking it could have been made into one, but never mind that! We have a film to discuss. Don Michael Paul, the man with too many first names, is Drake, the pilot of what appears to be the last surviving mega-robot, which is related to the great toxic waste problem of the past in some way. It’s a scorpion-looking thing, and is now used to take tourists to and from Crystal Vista, a perfectly preserved town circa 1993. Drake is the super-cool one and his co-pilot Stumpy is the loveable but tough veteran.


The reason they need a heavily armed mega-robot to ferry passengers around is the still continuing guerrilla war. Our good guys are part of “North Hemi”, but there’s also the “Centros” and “Eastern Alliance”. The Eastern Alliance is sort of friendly but the Centros are using the weapons they bought from the Easterns to attack North Hemi…

It cannot be said enough – Don Michael Paul is absolutely awful in this. He’s still acting now, and he also writes screenplays, but for whatever reason he seems to be taking part in a “who’s the biggest overactor?” contest here. His cockiness comes across as near-psychopathy, and he’s like the sleaziest pickup artist imaginable (bordering on flat-out harassment) when he meets investigative journalist Leda; when he’s talking with his boss about the terrorist attacks from the Centros, he’s ANGRY and DOESN’T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR GARBAGE. Watching him, you wonder what they were aiming for – well, it wasn’t “good”, that’s for sure.

You’ll recognise some of the other faces in this. The two main reps of the Eastern Alliance are Danny Kamekona and Yuji Okumoto, names you won’t recognise but faces you will. Basically, if you saw a film with Oriental baddies in it from between 1985 and 2000, chances are it was one of those guys. Leda is Barbara Crampton, a Full Moon repertory player; and Leda’s friend Annie is Lisa Rinna, now much better known as a soap actress and reality TV star. She’s a beautiful woman with a unique look in this, but if you see her now she appears to have been replaced by a skinny plastic mannequin of herself. It’s sad, but it seems US soaps are littered with women who have been told surgery is the only way to keep working, and they all start to look alike.

The film progresses merrily to its crescendo, which is a fight between the hijacked scorpion-robot and the missing-believed-scrapped ultimate mega-robot, and there’s some fun to be had. The miniature effects are great, as before; they managed to spell “hydraulic” right this time; there are a few fairly subtle poetry references dropped into the script, and the middle bit isn’t anywhere near as boring as most Full Moon films. The idea of them being tourists in a 1993 theme park is a refreshing way of avoiding having to decorate too many sets, too.


Of course, that’s not all. The sexism is truly staggering – Drake’s pursuit of Leda (who’s charmingly described as having some “amazing sweater puppies”) would get him fired for sexual harassment from any job, and she’s treated as a prize to be awarded for job competence, not as a person with feelings of her own. The timescale of the film seems cock-eyed, as well, with Drake basically quitting his job, only to turn up at a high-level party for the Eastern diplomats in the next scene, without a care in the world. It feels some establishment of their relationship is missing too, as Leda is used as bait to get Drake back into the film…but the problem comes from him only having met her twice and her showing basically zero interest in him to that point. How much would you risk for a faint chance of sex with someone you’d met for the first time earlier that day? Given the film, minus credits, barely scrapes 70 minutes, they had plenty of time to add some stuff in there.

Here ends the curious case of the three giant robot movies from Full Moon. I think I’d give the nod to “Crash and Burn” as the best of the three, but there’s not a lot in it, and provided you’re in the right frame of mind with the right group of friends, you’ll find something to enjoy in all of them. With this one, you even get to enjoy the directorial stylings of the father of the Band brothers, Albert, making a rare foray into the director’s chair.

Rating: thumbs down


4 thoughts on “Robot Wars (1993)

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