Robowar (Bruno Mattei, 1988)

Soldiers in front of a chopper, gold letters ROBOWAR

Robowar – Robot da guerra (1988)
Directed by: Bruno Mattei. Produced by: Franco Gaudenzi

Cast: Reb Brown, Catherine Hickland, Massimo Vanni, Claudio Fragasso, Romano Puppo, Jim Gaines.

ROBOWAR is a surprisingly accomplished offering from film editor-turned-director Bruno Mattei (SHOCKING DARK).

The Story

A group of sweaty commandoes (in varying levels of physical fitness) trudges through the Philippines underbrush. Their mission is to find and neutralise a rubber-suited, laser shooting cyborg created by the military. A small-scale jungle war ensues.

The Cast

Mattei’s films are infamous for mad overacting. While not exactly subtle, ROBOWAR is relatively well-acted, at least for a low-budget PREDATOR clone.

Reb Brown (YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE) delivers his sparse dialogue with total indifference. Catherine Hickland acquits herself well in what is a mainly decorative part. At least she gets to fight the crazed cyborg in at least one scene! Busy actor and stuntman Massimo Vanni is mainly there to show off his beefy physique. Mel Davidson delivers by far the most competent performance as the trecherous Mascher.

The Monster Francesco and Gaetano Paolocci created a cheap but cool monster costume. Like the film itself, there’s nothing original about it, but it’s still fun to look at.

The Music Al Festa (FATAL FRAMES) delivers an enjoyably cheesy, synth heavy score. On a side note, some of the cues have been lifted from his score to AFTER DEATH, directed by Claudio Fragasso for Flora Film around the same time.

ROBOWAR OFTEN belies its modest budget with an impressive amount of stunts, explosions and some excellent makeup effects. Just look at those charred bodies! They are incredible!

Contrary to his usual practice, Bruno Mattei used relatively little stock footage in ROBOWAR. This time around the filmmaker achieved the prerequisite 90-minute running time by padding the thin story out with extended shots of the commandoes walking around. So be ready to watch Reb Brown and co wade through the jungle, toting their machine guns again and again!

ROBOWAR (1988) is an entertaining, bone-headed, action-packed trash epic from Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso. What the film lacks in originality or budget it makes up for in over-the-top shootouts and quality makeup effects.

Reviewed by Alex Bakshaev in May 2020