I think our friends from Scream Factory must have been following my posts about BattleTech! Since they were kind enough to allow me to review their new Blu-Ray release for Stuart Gordon’s 1989 cult classic Robot Jox.
24 years before Guillermo del Toro brought us the awesomeness of Pacific Rim, Gordon was fighting to bring sci-fi and mecha fans his vision to the big screen. Spurred on by the popularity of both Transformers and Robotech, the Director began filming Robot Jox in 1987, teaming up with the legendary Joe Haldeman (The Forever War) to co-write the script, but Empire pictures would collapse before completion of the project and it would be finished and released by Epic Productions.
The story for Robot Jox presents a rebuilding society, survivors who witnessed almost complete nuclear devastation fifty years earlier. Large scale warfare is forbidden by the Nations, who have merged to become the Western-influenced Market and the Russian-inspired Confederation. In the place of war when a territorial dispute emerges the matter is settled by the Robot Jox, massive constructions piloted by a Human and armed with stylized weapons of destruction.
One of the greatest Jox is Achilles (Gary Graham), he also happens to be the Market’s greatest chance to pull victory from defeat by the dreaded Confederation’s kill-crazy champion Alexander (Paul Koslo). While piloting his massive mech, Achilles can count on the help of “Doc” Matsumoto (Danny Kamekona), a researcher and designer for the machines…and a suspected spy in the humble opinion of the gregarious Tex Conway (Michael Alldredge), the only Jox in history to have survived ten fights. You see, the Jox have a contract with their individual Super Powers they represent and after ten fights a Jox is free to retire…and theoretically live the high life on sponsorship deals, etc.
Off subject for a second but I love how the actor playing Tex, Michael Alldredge, says “It’s clobberin’ time!”. No idea if that was a tip of his Texan hat to Marvel’s ‘Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing’ or not but I like to think it was.
During that fight…SPOILERS…as Alexander is about to face defeat by Achilles he resorts to firing a long range weapon, which if you watched that clip you heard was an illegal move at that close range. Achilles tries to stop the projectile by attempting to deflect it but is knocked off balance and crashes back onto the stadium seating reserved for the “Bleacher Bums”, killing and maiming a large amount of the collected women, men, and children.
Afterwards during the press conference, remember these are looked on as sporting events even with the deadly outcomes, the referees judge the competition was a draw. The Market and Confederation immediately declare that a rematch will be held, much to Alexander’s delight and Achilles’ dismay. The Jox shocks the Nations and his fan base alike when he announces that he is retiring, he fought ten matches, it was never stated he had to win.
Which is good timing for Professor Laplace (Doll’s Hilary Mason) who is ready to sweep in with her genetically bred Jox, in particular the beautiful Athena (Anne-Marie Johnson ). But will Athena be strong enough to defend herself from the psychotically violent Alexander? Can Achilles be called back to action to defend the Market from the Confederation?
You’ll just have to pick up Robot Jox and see for yourself! As usual Scream Factory has loaded their release with extras:
Audio Commentary With Director Stuart Gordon
Audio Commentary With Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Mechanical Effects Artist Mark Rappaport, And Stop-Motion Animator Paul Jessel
Brand-New Interview With Actor Paul Koslo
Archival Interviews With Director Stuart Gordon, Pyrotechnic Supervisor Joe Viskocil, Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Stop-Motion Animator Paul Jessel and Animation & Effects Artists Chris Endicott And Mark McGee
2 Still Galleries
Robot Jox is available today or you can order a copy for yourself by visiting Scream Factory. It’s an absolutely fun film strengthened by the wonderful stop-motion effects by the late great David Allen (Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid), worthy of your time and money.