DVD Review: ROBOTRIX (1991)

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

Review: Robotrix / Cert: 18 / Director: Jamie Luk / Screenplay: Jamie Luk, Siu Man Sing / Starring: Amy Yip, Chikako Aoyama, David Wu, Hiu-Dan Hui, Billy Chow, Chung Lin / Release Date: November 25th

This notorious Hong Kong sci-fi comedy, which blends RoboCop with a Kung fu soft-core skin-flick, hits DVD in the UK in its longest form so far.

Evil scientist Sakamoto (Lin) has transferred his mind into a hi-tech human-looking android (Chow), and kidnapped a Sheik’s son. So the Hong Kong police respond by giving a recently killed top cop, Selina (Aoyama), a new, almost indestructible cyber-body, created in her own image. With the help of the doctor in charge of the android operations (Hui), her robot assistant (Yip) and a group of clumsy, inept HK cops, they attempt to rescue the Prince and stop Sakamoto, who has also taken to killing prostitutes (a lame plot device used just to get the women to go undercover and expose plenty of flesh) and doing away with members of his own gang.

Despite being good fun for the most part, Robotrix is, unfortunately, let down by its rather schizophrenic nature. It doesn't seem to know whether it's a comedy, cop film, sci-fi or porn film (the many sex scenes actually slow the film down). The violence is mostly played for laughs (an ingenious decapitation, for example) but still fairly brutal, albeit not as gory as some later films, but when it's sexualised it doesn't sit well. The action scenes are as one would expect: brilliantly choreographed and suitably OTT. The slapstick violence gives it a playful feel, with the buffoonish policemen mugging their way throughout, but the casual sexism is actually more cringe-worthy than amusing, sadly. There's plenty to enjoy, on a very low-brow level, it's just a shame there's that massive lull in the action mid-way.

Mediumrare's DVD is still missing over two minutes of footage (a particularly gratuitous rape scene, which is certainly not missed, and an infamous male full frontal – the first of its kind in a mainstream HK film). Although, on the plus side, they have reinstated over a minute of previously cut footage. They do offer an option to view in either the original language or a dubbed version, which is nice.

Extras: A trailer, in Cantonese with no subtitles

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