Robot Jox (1990)

PG | 85 mins | Science fiction | 28 April 1990

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HISTORY

The film opens with the following explanatory voiceover: “It is fifty years since the nuclear holocaust almost destroyed mankind. War is now outlawed, and all territorial disputes between the two great alliances are settled by single combat. Here at the Confederation playing field in Siberia, a battle rages between two gigantic fighting machines piloted by their nations’ champions, the Robot Jox.”
       The 16 Apr 1987 DV announced that principal photography for what was then called Robojox began 19 Jan 1987 in Rome, but according to the 9 May 1990 Var, the film suffered three years of delay because of Empire Pictures’ financial collapse. Epic Pictures eventually stepped in to complete it. The final budget was $6.5 million, the 9 May 1990 Var reported. The 8 Aug 1990 DV noted that when the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) gave the film an R-rating, the producer re-edited it to obtain a PG.
       Director Stuart Gordon told the 11 Mar 1991 Var that Orion Pictures, which distributed two successful Robocop films (1987 and 1990, see entries), warned Empire Pictures that the original title, Robojox, was too close to theirs. Empire ultimately released the film as Robot Jox, but Gordon joked that “the ‘t’ was silent.”
       Reviews were lukewarm. The 23 Nov 1990 LAT called Robot Jox “a pre-glasnost parable held on the shelf too long,” while the 9 May 1990 Var and 26 Nov 1990 HR thought it was a “disappointingly routine” “hardware clunker.” The 27 Nov 1990 DV reported ... More Less

The film opens with the following explanatory voiceover: “It is fifty years since the nuclear holocaust almost destroyed mankind. War is now outlawed, and all territorial disputes between the two great alliances are settled by single combat. Here at the Confederation playing field in Siberia, a battle rages between two gigantic fighting machines piloted by their nations’ champions, the Robot Jox.”
       The 16 Apr 1987 DV announced that principal photography for what was then called Robojox began 19 Jan 1987 in Rome, but according to the 9 May 1990 Var, the film suffered three years of delay because of Empire Pictures’ financial collapse. Epic Pictures eventually stepped in to complete it. The final budget was $6.5 million, the 9 May 1990 Var reported. The 8 Aug 1990 DV noted that when the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) gave the film an R-rating, the producer re-edited it to obtain a PG.
       Director Stuart Gordon told the 11 Mar 1991 Var that Orion Pictures, which distributed two successful Robocop films (1987 and 1990, see entries), warned Empire Pictures that the original title, Robojox, was too close to theirs. Empire ultimately released the film as Robot Jox, but Gordon joked that “the ‘t’ was silent.”
       Reviews were lukewarm. The 23 Nov 1990 LAT called Robot Jox “a pre-glasnost parable held on the shelf too long,” while the 9 May 1990 Var and 26 Nov 1990 HR thought it was a “disappointingly routine” “hardware clunker.” The 27 Nov 1990 DV reported the film “suffered an indifferent opening” in theaters.
       End credits contain the following information: “Filmed at Empire Studios, Rome, Italy,” and “This film is dedicated to the memory of Bob Greenberg.”
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “Special thanks to: Dennis Paoli; Ugo Liberatore; Brian Yuzna; Lenny Kleinfeld; Major Ed ‘Emo’ Modica and Charles E. Davis of the United States Air Force; Gayle Frere--NASA Film Coordinator, NASA Space Center; Barbara Schwartz--NASA Public Information Specialist; Ann Redding--NASA Customer Service Representative; Alan Levy & Lewis Chessler.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1987
p. 14
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1987
p. 16
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1990
p. 19
Daily Variety
27 Nov 1990
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1990
p. 12, 23
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1987
Calendar, p. 22
Los Angeles Times
13 Mar 1988
Calendar, p. 29
Los Angeles Times
23 Nov 1990
Calendar, p. 15
Variety
2 Jul 1986
p. 3, 20
Variety
21 Jan 1987
p. 24
Variety
11 Feb 1987
p. 43
Variety
8 Mar 1987
p. 8
Variety
30 Nov 1988
p. 1
Variety
9 May 1990
p. 36
Variety
11 Mar 1991
p. 64
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Empire Pictures Presents
A Charles Band Production
A Stuart Gordon Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
2d cam asst
Prod mgr, 2d unit USA
2d asst dir, 2d unit USA
Prod mgr, Addl photog (USA)
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
Still photog
1st asst cam, 2d unit USA
Key grip, 2d unit USA
Grip, 2d unit USA
Gaffer, 2d unit USA
Best boy, 2d unit USA
Dir of photog, Addl photog (USA)
Gaffer, Addl photog (USA)
Grip, Addl photog (USA)
Asst cam, Addl photog (USA)
Video playback, Addl photog (USA)
Tape to film transfer, Addl photog (USA)
ART DIRECTORS
Conceptual des
Conceptual des
Visual consultant
Addl storyboards
Addl storyboards
Addl storyboards
Art dir, 2d unit USA
Art dept, 2d unit USA
FILM EDITORS
On line video ed, Addl photog (USA)
Post prod supv--Italy
Asst ed (U.S.)
Asst ed (Italy)
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Propmaster
Asst prop master
Painter
Painter
Laborer
Laborer
Prop master, 2d unit USA
Set carpenter, 2d unit USA
Scenic, 2d unit USA
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Asst cost des
Seamstress
Ward supv, 2d unit USA
Ward asst, 2d unit USA
MUSIC
Mus comp, orch and cond by
Mus ed
Mus coord
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer, 2d unit USA
Boom, 2d unit USA
Sd des by
Sd des asst
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Sd des
Addl sd des
Synthesis
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff dir
Assoc eff dir
Model supv
Spec eff consultant
Stop motion anim
Stop motion anim
Asst anim
Anim graphics
Pyrotech coord
Mechanical rigger
Motion control photog
F/X prod coord
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelshop foreman
Modelshop foreman
Supv, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Modelmaker, Addl miniature construction
Asst, Modelmakers, Addl miniature construction
Asst, Modelmakers, Addl miniature construction
Cable control and stop motion armatures
Cable control and stop motion armatures, Localmoti
Cable control and stop motion armatures, Localmoti
Cable control and stop motion armatures, Localmoti
Cable control and stop motion armatures, Localmoti
Cable control and stop motion armatures, Localmoti
Cable control and stop motion armatures, Localmoti
Addl armature and machine work
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew
FX crew foreman
Spec photog eff prod by
Spec photog eff prod by, VCE
VCE anim eff
VCE anim eff
VCE anim eff
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
VCE optical eff by
CFI spec eff (addl)
CFI spec eff (addl)
CFI spec eff (addl)
CFI spec eff (addl)
Pyrotech, 2d unit USA
Pyrotech asst, 2d unit USA
Title seq and Addl opticals by
Main title des
Main title des
Title photog
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
MAKEUP
Chief make-up artist
Make-up artist asst
Hair stylist
Hair stylist asst
Make-up coord, 2d unit USA
Make-up coord, MMI, 2d unit USA
Make-up coord, 2d unit USA
Make-up/Hair, 2d unit USA
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Exec in charge of prod
Prod coord - Italy
Prod coord - USA
Prod coord - USA
Asst to Charles Band
Asst to Frank Hildebrand
Asst to Frank Hildebrand
Floor eff supv
Electronic tech adv
Prod liaison
Prod liaison
Work permit liaison
Crowd marshall
Casting coord
Casting asst
Prod asst
Addl casting
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
VCE admin
Prod exec, 2d unit USA
Scr supv, 2d unit USA
Prod asst, 2d unit USA
Prod asst, 2d unit USA
Intern, 2d unit USA
Intern, 2d unit USA
Casting, 2d unit USA
Extra coord, 2d unit USA
Prod secy, Addl photog (USA)
Post prod facilities provided by
Exec in charge of post prod
Post prod coord
Post prod asst coord
Projectionist
Projectionist
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Robotjox
Robo Jox
Release Date:
28 April 1990
Premiere Information:
Houston International Film Festival (TX) premiere: 28 April 1990
Los Angeles opening: 21 November 1990
Production Date:
began 19 January 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Altar Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 August 1990
Copyright Number:
P483507
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo
Color
Color by Telecolor Rome, Italy
Duration(in mins):
85
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29530
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At “the Valley of Death” in Siberia, a giant Confederation robot piloted by “Alexander” vanquishes a Market robot and stomps on the cockpit containing its “robot jock,” killing him. At Market training headquarters, former champion jock Commander “Tex” Conway, robot designer-engineer Dr. Matsumoto, current champion “Achilles,” and Commissioner Jameson confer over why their robot’s new weaponry did not work against Alexander. Dr. Matsumoto believes a spy leaked information. Tex is angry because Alexander has killed nine Market jocks in a row, while the commissioner held Achilles in reserve. Jameson replies that he saved Achilles to fight for Alaska and its vast natural resources. Later, as Achilles trains new recruits, he is intrigued by an attractive woman named “Athena.” Jameson introduces Achilles and Tex to Professor Laplace, the female geneticist who developed the current crop of test-tube trainees, and asks for their cooperation because the Confederation is developing its own “gen jocks” for future battles. Laplace also wants Tex and Achilles to provide genetic material, in order to pass along their superior fighting abilities. Instructing the “tubies,” Tex explains that during a robot battle, he provides real-time tactics, Dr. Matsumoto runs technical machinery and video monitors, and the jocks follow orders as they control the robots’ actions. Athena asks Tex about one of his famous fights, in which he was overmatched, but was able to fire a laser into the Confederate robot’s most vulnerable spot. How did he discover the enemy’s vulnerability? Tex tells her it was “a lucky shot.” They all watch Achilles on a monitor as he prepares for combat. On international television, Alexander issues a taunt to Achilles, and the announcer asks disabled former jock “Ajax” if ... +


At “the Valley of Death” in Siberia, a giant Confederation robot piloted by “Alexander” vanquishes a Market robot and stomps on the cockpit containing its “robot jock,” killing him. At Market training headquarters, former champion jock Commander “Tex” Conway, robot designer-engineer Dr. Matsumoto, current champion “Achilles,” and Commissioner Jameson confer over why their robot’s new weaponry did not work against Alexander. Dr. Matsumoto believes a spy leaked information. Tex is angry because Alexander has killed nine Market jocks in a row, while the commissioner held Achilles in reserve. Jameson replies that he saved Achilles to fight for Alaska and its vast natural resources. Later, as Achilles trains new recruits, he is intrigued by an attractive woman named “Athena.” Jameson introduces Achilles and Tex to Professor Laplace, the female geneticist who developed the current crop of test-tube trainees, and asks for their cooperation because the Confederation is developing its own “gen jocks” for future battles. Laplace also wants Tex and Achilles to provide genetic material, in order to pass along their superior fighting abilities. Instructing the “tubies,” Tex explains that during a robot battle, he provides real-time tactics, Dr. Matsumoto runs technical machinery and video monitors, and the jocks follow orders as they control the robots’ actions. Athena asks Tex about one of his famous fights, in which he was overmatched, but was able to fire a laser into the Confederate robot’s most vulnerable spot. How did he discover the enemy’s vulnerability? Tex tells her it was “a lucky shot.” They all watch Achilles on a monitor as he prepares for combat. On international television, Alexander issues a taunt to Achilles, and the announcer asks disabled former jock “Ajax” if Achilles has a chance. Ajax reveals that the Market has a new secret weapon for this battle. As Achilles rides an elevator to the cockpit of the Market robot, the announcer claims that if he wins, he will be the first since Tex Conway to achieve ten victories. Achilles is wired in the cockpit so that every move he makes is transferred to the robot. When he raises a right foot, the robot instantly raises its right foot. The 120-foot-tall “Matsumoto 14” robot rises out of a large elevator shaft at the end of a field flanked by grandstands. The Confederation's robot, with Alexander in the cockpit, rises at the opposite end. The crowd roars. Dr. Matsumoto informs Achilles about the secret weapons, including a white-hot torch and a green laser. During opening salvos, however, Alexander deflects Achilles’ laser, prompting Sargon, one of the trainees in the control room, to wonder how the Confederation knew about it. As the two robots draw close, Alexander knocks Achilles down, but from his prone position, Achilles cuts into the opposing robot’s leg with his torch and topples it. As Achilles stands up, Alexander fires a steel rocket fist that flies off course toward the bleachers. Achilles steps in its path, but the huge fist knocks him backward into the stands, killing over 300 spectators. The announcer calls it the greatest disaster in the history of the games. Both the Market and Confederation are called to a tribunal, where Commissioner Jameson complains that the Confederation's flying weapon was in violation of rules concerning the hand-to-hand portion of the battle. He insists that the Confederation forfeit the match and abandon its claim on Alaska. However, the tribunal declares the match “inconclusive” and schedules a rematch. Achilles announces his retirement because he has already honored his ten-fight contract. The commissioner offers more money, but Achilles declines. At a party, Achilles gets drunk until the bartender refuses to serve him. Athena and Sargon tell Achilles he should not have risked defeat by saving the spectators, who knew the danger. Sargon would have let Alexander’s missile kill them, and Athena agrees. When Alexander enters, he congratulates Achilles on the 300 casualties. Sargon challenges Alexander to a fight, but the Confederation jock refuses to fight tubies. Sargon assures him they will fight next week, and Alexander promises to make his death “interesting.” Later, Achilles dreams about the grandstand disaster and awakens to find Athena sitting next to him. She brought him home from the party and undressed him, but when she studied his body, she found nothing visually special that made him a champion. Achilles claims what made him different was confidence mixed with fear. Athena answers that she was bred to have no fear. The next day, as Achilles gathers his belongings and leaves the compound, he gives Athena the “lucky” white scarf he wore during every victory. In town, he sees that a large poster of him has been defaced and the word “Coward” written on it. Achilles visits his brother Phillip’s family for a few days, and his nephews and nieces are happy to see their “Uncle Jim.” During rigorous training, Athena defeats her fellow trainees and is chosen to fight Alexander. Seeing the news on television. Achilles goes to Commissioner Jameson and asks to be reinstated to fight. His only request is that the bleachers be empty. Jameson accepts his return. As he prepares for the match, Achilles asks Dr. Matsumoto why he has not been briefed about new weaponry, and the scientist replies that the information will be available only when he gets into the cockpit for the fight. Achilles and Tex will have to trust him, but this way there will be no leaks. Later, when Achilles goes to the bar for a beer, Athena accuses him of quitting just to negotiate for more money. As Dr. Matsumoto prepares the video to play for Achilles, Tex arrives to complain about being left out of the weapons briefing. As an answer, Matsumoto reruns Tex’s famous fight and demonstrates why he should have lost. There was no way he should have known exactly where to fire, unless the Confederation warned him in advance. When Matsumoto pulls a gun, Tex admits, “You got me," but wrestles the weapon away and shoots the scientist, not realizing that Matsumoto turned on his camera. Tex makes Matsumoto’s death look like a suicide, and telephones Commissioner Jameson to announce he uncovered the spy, who then shot himself to avoid punishment. Athena goes to Achilles’ room to apologize and wish him luck, but injects him with a sedative. She puts on his combat gear and goes to the robot. When the Commissioner and Tex realize the jock is not Achilles, they call “condition red.” Achilles awakens and tries to telephone, but the line has been cut. Using a radio, he contacts his car and brings it crashing through a wall. In the robot cockpit, Athena overrides outside efforts to stop her, and Professor Laplace implores her to stop. When the commissioner gives an order to cripple the elevator, Athena uses the robot to climb out the elevator shaft. Jameson telephones the head of the tribunal, but is told the match automatically began the moment the Market robot took the field, regardless of who is running it. Hearing that Dr. Matsumoto killed himself, Achilles contacts Athena in the cockpit and tells her to activate instructions for the new weapons. An image of Matsumoto tells her the robot is equipped with magnesium flares that will blind the opponent for ninety seconds. Suddenly, the instruction tape cuts to Tex Conway holding a gun to Matsumoto’s head, and everyone in the control room sees it. They arrest Tex Conway, but he breaks free and leaps from a window to his death. On the field, Alexander’s robot goes airborne and lands in front of her. Achilles tells Athena to turn on the flares because Tex did not have time to tell the Confederation about them. She temporarily blinds Alexander, but he recovers quickly enough to knock her down and begin pounding her robot with his steel fist. The referee orders the robot jock to stop because his opponent is unconscious and he has won. When Alexander raises his foot to deliver a coup de grace, Achilles distracts him by landing his car next to the Market’s fallen robot. A tribunal vehicle hovers between the two robots, preventing Alexander from stomping the cockpit, and the referee orders him to leave or the Confederation will lose by default. Achilles climbs into the cockpit, removes the equipment from Athena, and kisses her. The Confederation master orders Alexander to leave, but he blocks the monitor transmission and stomps on the tribunal vehicle. As soldiers pull Athena to safety, Commissioner Jameson orders Achilles to stop the fight because the Market has won. Instead, Achilles kicks Alexander’s robot back and blasts into space. Alexander follows him into earth’s orbit. With the cockpit temperature rising, Achilles returns to earth and reconfigures the robot into a vehicle, but Alexander tips it over. Achilles slips out of the cockpit and runs to one of Alexander’s robot’s arms, which has been torn off. He crawls into the arm, rewires it, and fires its steel fist. The missile destroys the Confederation robot, but Alexander escapes. He and Achilles fight with metal pieces from their robots until they are too exhausted to continue. Achilles tells him they do not have to die. Alexander drops his weapon, and they bump knuckles as a gesture of peace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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