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Film: Robot Jox

Achilles: You can live.
Alexander: Yes - if I kill you.
Achilles: We can both live!
Alexander: We are dead. We are Robot Jox.

Robot Jox was a low budget western attempt to exploit the Humongous Mecha genre. In a dystopic future, a nuclear war has devastated the earth. With war outlawed, all territorial disputes are settled through Combat by Champion using giant robots piloted by "Jox", and their battles have become media-televised sporting events.

The film follows Achilles, a famed jox for the Market, and his rivalry with Alexander, the best jox of the Confederation. With Alaska, abundant in valuable natural resources, on the line in the next contest, and the two both preparing for the last of their contracted ten fights, the next battle will be one of the greatest in the history of the conflicts. Subplots include a new generation of genetically engineered jox including Athena, who's in the running to become the first female jox, and a Confederate spy in the Market ranks that keeps leaking information to the Confederation.

Compare G Gundam, which has a similar general plot hook.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Tex.
  • After the End: It's hinted at that World War III was not a good experience, as serving a single hot dog is considered a special occasion.
    • In addition, there is pregnancy propaganda all over the place, and one pregnant woman cheerfully says she's just "doing her part" being pregnant. This strongly hints that the world's population is very low.
  • A-Team Firing: Twice in the final battle, justified to some degree each time for different reasons.
    • Alexander cannot hit Achilles as he rolls towards him in tank mode, but Achilles is getting too close for him to hit and the display doesn't seem to be prepared for this — we see Alexander literally shoot himself in the leg because he can't aim properly.
    • As Achilles flees across the field in the open, Alexander chews up the ground beside him but doesn't hit him. But when Achilles falls Alexander stops firing and starts up again when he's back on his feet, so being Alexander, he's probably just playing with him.
    • Both scenes also attempt justify this by having Achilles zigzag, but it doesn't work. His robot tank moves way too slow to really count as "dodging", and while we see him zigzagging to avoid Alexander's targeting cursor on Alexander's display screens, the next scene when he's actually being fired at he's running straight.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Subverted. Tex famously won a battle this way, due entirely to a lucky shot hitting a spot on the enemy's mech weakened in a previous fight. Double-subverted. The Russians told Tex where to aim.
  • Ax-Crazy: Alexander plays a more controlled version of this. Off the field, he's Faux Affably Evil. Once he's in his robot, he's this trope all the way.
  • Badass Boast: Alexander gets a good share.
    "You're next! ACHILLEEEEEEES!"
    "Achilles! I have already killed you, right here! [points to his head]. Hahahahahahahahaha!"
    "I could, you know, squash you both! Like bugs!"
    • Achilles gets his turn when he prepares to take back the robot from Athena and challenge Alexander:
    "You're a lot of things Alexander, but you're not a coward. I'm gonna get in this thing, and I'm gonna kick! Your! ASS!"
  • Black Dude Dies First: Likely averted. Ajax, a former robot jock, is pretty much the only black dude in the movie, and although he seems to have been injured in a prior match, the first casualty of the movie is a white guy. Not counting any who may have been in the bleachers, though.
  • Blood Knight: Alexander, particularly since the matches do not have to be to the death, but they are for him. Defied in the bar though, where he refuses to fight Achilles and specifically says he doesn't fight for fun. His actions of course say otherwise.
  • Book Ends: The two fights between Alexander and Achilles both end with a Rocket Punch being launched to clinch the match.
  • Broken Pedestal: Athena idolizes Achilles, but after his Heroic BSOD has him back out of the rematch and she gets to meet him personally, she sees him as a coward.
  • Catch Phrase: Crash and Burn! Said when a "pilot" downs his opponent. It's also used to wish pilots luck in a "Break a Leg" kind of way.
  • Chainsaw Good: Alexander's final robot has one between its legs.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Achilles's hovercraft, Alexander's Rocket Punch, the weapons briefing, Tex's lucky shot in his last fight and Matsumoto paying attention when Athena brings it up.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Red and white for the Market, black and yellow for the Confederation.
    • Red Is Heroic: Though the Market mostly leans to white, they also feature red a lot.
    • Dark Is Evil/Evil Wears Black: However, in comparison to the Market's red and white being balanced, the Confederate uniforms and robots are virtually all black.
  • Combat by Champion
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Alexander's robot in the first film is knocked off balance when one of its legs is damaged and he falls to the ground. For the next fight, his robot has four legs.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In the ending, Alexander and Achilles finally stop fighting and bump fists as a show of respect.
  • Designer Babies: The Genejox, the Jox currently in training to replace Achilles and the other Market Jox, somewhat reminiscent of the Clanners, even in attitude.
  • Engineered Public Confession: How The Mole is discovered.
  • Expy: Given the director himself said that Transformers was his initial inspiration, it probably isn't a coincidence that Achilles's robot is red and white. His first robot particularly has a predominantly red torso with white legs. Recolor the legs blue and it's a dead ringer for G1 Optimus Prime.
    • Also, the genetically-engineered pilots are strongly reminiscent of the Clan Elementals from the BattleTech game.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: By the time Alexander gets to thrashing Athena half to death, the referees, easily the most incompetent in futuristic dystopian sports films, have finally had enough of his shit, and they grow some balls and DQ him when he persists.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: One of the characters, Tex, is nothing but this. Giant hat, heavy accent, boisterous attitude, heavy build; he's the biggest stereotype in a movie full of them. (It's not surprising he's played by Joe Don Baker.)
  • Evil Laugh: It's practically a character tic for Alexander.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Alexander is very cheerful and pleasant to be around off the field, except he openly revels in the chance to get on the field and brutalize opponents with his robot.
  • Flipping the Bird: Achilles is somewhat subtle about this as he tugs down his eyelid with his middle finger, pointedly glaring at Alexander.
  • Finishing Stomp: Alexander loves to stomp his foot on the cockpit of the opponent's robot to end the fight. The opening of the film shows him doing this after the referees rule in his favor and his opponent yields, wasting no time in having him Kick the Dog.
  • From Bad to Worse: In the final battle, Alexander is battering the Market robot with punches, until one of his arms is cut off. He then reveals his other arm has pistons in it, so he leans forward and lets them go to work with more forceful and frequent blows.
  • Future Slang: Mostly averted, but presumably jox is a corruption of jock(s).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Achilles comments, "two legs, two arms... one... *uncovers bedsheet* ow, hangover."
    • Another time, Achilles, holding up a tube for "genetic material" says, "Could we just skip the middleman and make a direct deposit?"
    • In the climax Alexander reveals a giant chainsaw from his groin, and he proceeds to cut directly into the cockpit of Achille's robot lying beneath him, the cockpit naturally being in the approximate location of the humanoid robot's head. Picture that scene for a moment. Not until the internet area would it be realized that Alexander is practically tea bagging Achilles.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: Averted. It's called Russia in this film, even though it's released in 1990. Then again, Alaska is also independent in the story, so no telling what happened to the U.S. in World War III, either.
  • Groin Attack: Inverted
    In Confederation [Russia], groin attacks YOU!
  • Handshake Substitute: The film ends with one.
  • Hates Being Touched: Alexander doesn't take it well when a jox in training challenges him in the bar, but when he grabs his shoulder he gets angry.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Of course he hasn't. note 
  • The Heavy: The Confederation is the Big Bad of the story, but it's Alexander who acts as the main antagonist since he's the one taking the field in their robot.
  • Heroic BSOD: Achilles after the first fight. Killing hundreds of innocents in the act of trying to protect them will do that.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Alexander's robot in the ending is destroyed by his own Rocket Punch from his sliced-off arm.
  • Humongous Mecha
  • In Name Only: The film has two "sequels", Crash and Burn, which was actually marketed in some areas as Robot Jox 2: Crash and Burn, and Robot Wars. The only connections between the three films are they all have the same producer (Charles Band), and he directed Crash and Burn while his father directed Robot Wars. Otherwise the three films have nothing in common in terms of story, characters or setting beyond "post-apocalyptic future where we have giant robots", and their connection to Robot Jox was mostly for marketing uses.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Athena. At one point she strips down and showers with her male counterparts, with absolutely no indication that any of them care about their nudity. Justified in that they were all raised together and pretty much have no interest in anything except piloting.
  • Jerkass: The referees. As covered further down at Obstructive Bureaucrat, they have no interest in actually being fair and are generally rude and unpleasant. This is particularly relevant when they refuse to stop the match and allow the Market to get Athena out of the robot and Achilles in it as "the identity of the pilot is not our responsibility", and when the Market Commissioner protests, they repeat the ruling and hang up on him.
  • Large Ham: Alexander is clearly enjoying himself, especially in combat. Just listen to that Evil Laugh, look at that Psychotic Smirk!
    • Evil Is Hammy: By comparison every other character is much more subdued, save for Tex. Considering Tex is The Mole though, this turns out to be unintentional foreshadowing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • It's mentioned that the opponent Alexander killed in the opening was at a heavy disadvantage when his robot's knee was damaged, and Achilles is sure to ask it's been fixed before the next fight. During said fight, he uses a fusion arm torch to attack Alexander's leg, damaging it to the point it falls back.
    • The final move of their first battle is for Alexander to fire his Rocket Punch at Achilles, who intercepts it but is knocked off balance and crashes into the bleachers. In the final battle, Achilles takes refuge in the severed arm of Alexander's robot and activates the Rocket Punch feature to fire it and destroy his robot.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Tex became famous after a victory over a Russian opponent in a far superior robot, owing his victory to precisely hitting a weak spot in the enemy's armor. He chalks his victory up to blind luck. We later discover that he wasn't lucky at all...
  • Made of Explodium: Writer Joe Haldeman told a story about the filming that ended with a child of the director (or was it the producer?) saying "Daddy, tables don't explode."
  • The Mole: Tex
  • Mustache Vandalism: The protagonist has his poster vandalised this way (amongst others) for retiring after he's left traumatised when his Humongous Mecha crushes a stand full of spectators.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe. Achilles is constantly being called a coward for quitting robot fighting, though it's obvious he's having doubts about his career and is massively traumatized due to accidentally killing hundreds of spectators trying to protect them from Alexander.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Achilles manages to use his robot to block Alexander's robot fist, but in doing so, ends up overbalancing and doing exactly what he wanted to avoid — crushing one of the bleachers around the open-air arena.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The referees are so incompetent that you'll almost wonder if the Confederation is paying them off.
    • It's implied that Alexander has killed his previous opponents, likely after he's been told to stand down. No consequences for this are shown. They come out to yell at him during the final battle when he moves to do it again, but he squashes them. He's disqualified for it, but that of course doesn't stop him from continuing the fight.
    • The ending of the first battle between Achilles and Alexander is meant to be hand-to-hand, no ranged weapons allowed, but Alexander has a Rocket Punch on his robot. After the fight the referees don't care and ignore calls from the Market for him to be disqualified.
    • When Athena mugs Achilles and takes the field in the robot, the Market protests that the robot was hijacked and asked the fight be stopped while they bring in Achilles. The referees reply that the robot has taken the field which means the fight is on, and the identity of the pilot isn't their responsibility.
  • Obviously Evil: Let's run down the checklist for Alexander — wears black, is Russian, is constantly smirking and smiling, is a Large Ham, gives an Evil Laugh at least once in almost every scene he has...yeah.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Achilles's walk to the cockpit in the first fight shows him waving to and chatting up the guards and technicians. When Athena walks with almost not a word and with her helmet on, they note Achilles is acting weird. Then when one of the technicians around the cockpit slaps her on the rear as he had Achilles in the first fight, she turns around and they realize it isn't him.
  • Psycho for Hire: Who in the Confederation thought it would be a good idea to put the Ax-Crazy Blood Knight in the cockpit of a giant robot? Bites them in the final battle, when Alexander gets himself disqualified because he wants Achilles regardless of the official rulings the match is over, and when the Confederate officer yells at him not to be stupid, he rips out the wires for the communicator.
  • Real Robot Genre: They're armed with lasers, missiles and the occasional superweapon, but simple brute hand-to-hand combat is always an option. It also takes a lot of time and money to repair and upgrade them between fights, and their pilots are specially trained soldiers but are otherwise normal humans.
  • Rocket Punch: Alexander has one on his robot.
  • Rule of Cool: Let's face it, no one would remember this movie if they had done it all the same but without the giant robots.
  • See You in Hell: Tex's parting words before taking his life.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted. Highly surprising, considering the incredible amount of Willing Suspension of Disbelief this film requires.
  • Space-Filling Empire: There are two competing world polities, comprised of the surviving nations.
  • Star-Derailing Role: This pretty much ruined Gary Graham's career for a long time outside Alien Nation TV movies.
  • Taking You with Me: Alexander attempts this on Achilles in their first battle, firing his fist at him as he falls down after Achilles damages his leg. It works, but probably not as he intended.
  • Tempting Fate: Tex is particularly concerned about this.
    It's bad luck to say good luck!
  • Transforming Mecha: The two robots have flight modes where their cockpits tilt up and fins open on their body. Achilles's robot in the final battle transforms into a tank-mode by changing its legs into treads, since his foot has been blown off. His first robot also has treads so it may have been able to do the same, but we aren't shown.
  • What Could Have Been: A spinoff called Battle Jox was in the planning stages years later, but never saw development.
  • Worthy Opponent: Alexander thinks so of Achilles. He doesn't return the sentiment, seeming to think of it as just another fight with a particularly unhinged opponent. As Achiles correctly calls him on, Alexander doesn't crush him and Athena as he takes the robot from her though he had plenty of time, he allows Achilles to get inside so they can have a proper fight.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Right there in the title.

Reversal Of FortuneFilms of the 1990sRockula
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alternative title(s): Robot Jox
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