GB’s VHS Vault: The Truth Behind “Robowar”

Normally when I start these articles I give a little introduction to what type of film I’m going to be talking about, but in this case I don’t really need to. For example – have you seen Predator? Sure you have, it’s a great piece of 1980’s action. Okay have you seen Robocop? Well if not – why not, the remake will be out soon so get a move on!

Well mix the plot of the first film with the main character from the second and you have this, Robowar. It’s an Italian action flick which shamelessly borrows (or steals if you like) huge bits out of Predator. Not just the plot mind you; the characters, setting, music and the kitchen sink have been pilfered for this movie running time.

So first up is the UK, American and European cover which is not a bad assessment of the movie.  The film does have a helicopter at the start, but it is not the B.A.M that go after it, but some nameless soldiers who get a missile up their backside early on. For anyone who is interested B.A.M is the name of the group hired to take on the mission of trying to find the lost troops from the start of the movie. It means “Bunch of Asshole Motherf***ers” and it pretty much helps sum up the movie’s mindset. The shadowy figures with guns look a lot like the B.A.M members, who are essentially rip offs of the original Predator team.

Everyone is covered in this film; the recon expert who can tell where the “ghost” is, the jerk leader of the mission who knows more than he lets on, the older macho guy, the younger macho guy, the black guy, etc. The weird thing is they mess around with the characters. For example the black guy (called Larry Guarino) talks more like an amalgamation of all the Predator characters aside from Billy. The one thing missing from this cover straight off is my favorite character Alfred Bray aka ‘Papa Doc’. He is amazing! He smokes a big pipe, has a massive beard and is of a portly disposition – he’s the medic. He can keep up with the big boys, but struggles a bit in water which alas leads to his end. But he can pump off some rounds on a gun like no one else can.

The stills on the box don’t give too much away other than most of the cast. The young lady in the bottom right is rescued from some soldiers who were taking pot shots at her from their car. Then the gang go and blow the soldiers base up and find a load of dead children. Everyone is sad. That is pretty much her story arc. The makers of the film never give her a name so I waited till the end credits to find it out. It is Virgin.  The filmmakers cared so little for this woman they named her after her lack of sexual conquests. I think she is only in it because there was a woman in Predator.

Now the good stuff – the robot/cyborg  or Omega One as it is called in the movie. The art work on him here is great, but it’s used some creative licence. His armour is more of a bodysuit or if I’m honest it’s a biker suit and leathers.  He also talks a little bit like Max Headroom mixed with the old Amiga voice software. His vision is a mix of Robocop’s scanner and the Predator’s heat vision, but it looks pretty awful. When it is revealed it is actually a former soldier turned into a robot he just lifts his visor up to show his eyes with a bit of guy liner smeared underneath. Not exactly the ground breaking reveal that Robocop had, but this film spends most of its money on guns and bullets which they use constantly. They puff out tons of smoke, but much like the A Team no blood is spilled by anyone who is shot.  Overall, a pretty honest sleeve for this film.

Moving on to another foreign release of the film. This one blew my mind when I saw it the first time.  Forget about the back sleeve as all those events do happen in the film (the skeletons are all dismembered brutally like in the previous mentioned film). The front cover however is absolutely full of lies left, right and center. So the background is fine because there is a scene with water and plenty of buildings get blown up throughout this movie. The sky though it seems is a convention of helicopters in this particular jungle, none of which are seen in the film. One is seen at the start, but all the main characters arrive in a boat for heaven’s sake!  The snake turns up in the movie too, but I’m not sure why the chap is draining off its poison as nothing like this happens at all. The enemy is a cyborg covered in armor – how is poison going to help? The soldier on the front is classic. No one in this film looks remotely like him; he looks like some kind of model. No one wears a hat because they all wear bandanas (they must be Rambo fans) and a hat with bullets on it is just stupid in a jungle war situation. One shot near it and your hat is going to explode. The last bit is his dress code. The soldiers in this all have the standard jungle wear but this guy decided to bring his Crocodile Dundee gear to the party instead, and though it looks rather nice it is never seen in this motion picture. The person who took this movie out based on the cover must have felt so ripped off.

Finally my favorite cover is this Delta Video release. This is the entire movie summed up perfectly. Rubbish looking robot and soldiers with guns. Shame it’s the worst looking cover but it is the most accurate one, and for that it deserves recognition.

If you are interested in this movie and if you are a fan of Predator you should be (it’s hilarious), then here’s some clips to give you a taste of what to expect from it.

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