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First Look Review - ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER

A group of rebels battle the overthrow of humanity by artificial intelligence.






Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: Neil Johnson

Starring: Tracey Birdsall, William Kircher, Daz Crawford, Ashley Park



Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter doesn’t lack for ambition. Yes, the low budget is evident in each frame, but so is the film’s resourcefulness and dedication to genre.


Opening with grave images of mass destruction - tangerine blossoms of flame erupting across the globe, poisonous miasmas of grey smoke lingering above cityscapes - which are poetically soundtracked by some mournful piano tinkling, we’re at the end of the world again in Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter. And no, this nuclear Armageddon is not due to Trump getting trigger happy with his little red button (etc etc), but the fault of them bloody robots.


A voiceover sounding exactly like the ‘Jigsaw’ fella from the Saw franchise deliberately intones that the ‘first world has become a third’ after a ‘decade long apocalypse’ (yikes!). Furthermore, following the wars, artificial intelligence had developed to such an extent that shell-shocked man and machine worked together to build a new world. Ah, but then, humans being so fickle and jealous, they turned against their AI brethren and now we’re pretty much back to square one: a cyberpocalypse where drone robots pick off any remaining homo sapiens, who scramble for survival while all dressed as if they’ve had a rough night down the Hard Rock CafĂ© (the leathers and long hair are fitting indicators towards director Neil Johnson’s history as a close associate of ace epic metal group Manowar).

Hope arrives in the shapely form of scavenger-warrior Sienna (b-movie vet Tracey Birdsall), a Heavy Metal cover girl come to life. We first meet Sienna bargaining with some spiv over ‘torsion guns and power packs’. As seems de rigueur for this wasteland, Sienna is wrapped in scarves and leather to protect her from the nuclear sun; her imperial cleavage, however, helpfully remains uncovered. But as the deal is brokered, a pesky drone (looking like a Transformer toy half completed) makes with the lasers, and Sienna springs to action, popping back into her space jet for some cross desert dog fight action topped off with explosions courtesy of Microsoft paint. It is great fun, with some very well shot action. Sometimes you just need a bit of schlock, amirite?


Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter doesn’t lack for ambition. Across its near two hour running time we travel from the Lidl Mad Max stylings of desert war fare, to outer space travel, ending up in inter dimensional locations. There’s also some lovely photography (especially in those opening scenes), and Birdsall is fabulous. Yes, the low budget is evident in each frame, but so is the film’s resourcefulness and dedication to genre.

The problem that Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter has is in its pacing, and the film’s extended length. Often the action slows to talk, and interminably confusing character interaction. The bulk of the film involves Sienna off on an intergalactic mission with a ragbag of archetypes: a shaven-headed hard man (Daz Crawford - Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D.’s Kebo) , a sly nerd and a mechanical beach ball droid, voiced by Brit Tony Gibbons (and therefore fulfilling the Threepio camp sidekick comic relief role). The film slows somewhat in the middle due to some ponderous discussions and could have probably benefitted from some more judicious editing here. Nonetheless, the cabin fever situation does give rise to the world’s most incredibly awkward sex scene between Crawford and Birdsall (fanservice for Ms. Birdsall’s admirers, but bum clenching cringe for the rest of us), so there is that.


Keeping on a sex tip, the film’s final half introduces a sub plot that pertains to ‘pleasure bots’ and the shocking true backstory of Sienna (which is actually quite plausible, offering explanation why her hair is kept so perfect throughout) along with a weird incestuous sub theme. Such kinks come a little too late to save Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter, however, which, if it cut the laborious yakking and fully exploited its own daftness may have been a near perfect camp crusade into pure B movie pleasure. After all, can a film which includes the line ‘I feel like I’ve been fisted by a football team’ be all that bad?




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