You know that scene in Predator, when the huge black dude mows down half a forest with an automatic rifle, is joined by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his buddies, who help him proceed to mow down the rest, only to discover that they “didn’t hit anything”. Did you ever think Predator would have been better if that scene would have been repeated numerous times, throughout the film, with only slight variations? Did you also think that the actual predator should have been more like a cross between a 60s Sci-Fi robot and a He-Man action figure? Of course you did, we all did. This is why you will love Bruno Mattei’s 1988 classic Robowar, also known as Robot Da Guerra, starring the immortal Reb Brown.
A group of burly special ops military types descend into the jungle on some bogus anti-guerrilla mission. The true purpose of the affair, known only to the archetypal Evil Traitor Mascher, is to retrieve or possibly fight, the cyborg Omega 1. The group roams the woods to the tune of the best fucking 80s music, if not the best fucking music, ever made. Heavily armed, heavily manly – trapped inside one of the most ruthless rip-off movies to exist before the likes of The Asylum made big (well) business out of it. There’s machetes, there’s men being pissed off at each other for absolutely no other reason than the script calling for it, there are gore scenes that seem to have been spliced in from other films (and probably were) and there are whole chunks of dialogue lifted from Predator.
There’s lots of plot in Robowar, but it is difficult to follow even if you try. A good-hearted woman is saved from guerrillas through a brutal massacre, the origins of Omega 1 is explained, and most things that belong in a film happen. Just in the wrong order, or generally wrong. The monster of the film, the robot with abs to die for, views the world in pixelated orange rather than the traditional infrared vision of the original predator. The gang of commie-killing, American Contras call themselves B.A.M. – “Big Ass Motherfuckers” – and really, that Bergman dude ain’t got shit on Bruno Mattei and Robowar.
It does take some stamina to sit through this, and the absence of any normal dramaturgical curve and the long stretches of pointless shooting, shouting or general dicking around mean you may have to have at least some experience of terrible Italian films dubbed to English to truly appreciate how amazing this is. If you have that experience, or want to get it real fast, there is simply no excuse not to immerse yourself in the world of Robowar.