Omega Doom (1996)

That image makes this movie feel way more Slavic than it actually is.

Robots in movies! We all love robots in movies. There’s nothing quite like the near-constant whine of robotic joints and servos every single time one moves that makes us cringe and take icepicks to our ears. Seriously, whoever thought this was a good idea needs to be slapped with one of those machine arms from a Ford Motors assembly line.

Omega Doom is a hybrid robot who has survived the great war against humans. But on the last day of that war, he was shot in the program and had his prime directive wiped (I am not kidding, this is exactly how the narrator describes it). Then the war ended in nuclear devastation, humanity was driven to possible extinction, and the remaining military robots fell back on their need to destroy other types of robots in a battle for dominance. Since Omega Doom can now make his own decisions, he wanders around the post-apocalyptic wasteland, looking for crap to do. Yes, this movie starts with a narrator and copious amounts of green screen of orange haze and mushroom clouds. It also has Rutger Hauer reading poetry. Omega Doom begins with a definite bang.

So then Rutger Hauer wanders into a Westworld-style amusement park, where two gangs of different model robots mess about and scramble for dominance, while a few innocent robots get mistreated. So Omega Doom decides to rectify the situation by pitting the two gangs against each other and…aww, damn it, it’s another remake of Yojimbo. You don’t know Yojimbo? It’s a classic samurai film from Akira Kurosawa starring the fantastic Toshiro Mifune as a nameless samurai who wanders into a town being held hostage by two rival gangs and proceeds to kick everyone’s ass. No, the nameless samurai does not have a name like Omega Doom, but that probably would have left the audience laughing more than anything. And yes, it’s been remade a lot: Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood did it with A Fistful of Dollars, Franco Nero wandered into town carrying a coffin to remake it in Django, David Carradine remade it as a cheap and sleazy sword and sorcery in The Warrior and the Sorceress, Bruce Willis took it and Prohibition on in Last Man Standing, and now we have Rutger Hauer as a sword-wielding killer robot in the ridiculously named Omega Doom, directed and probably titled by Albert Pyun.

I’ve talked about Albert Pyun before, but I feel like now is a good time to review, folks. He’s had a long career, directing his first film in 1982, the blatantly named sword and sorcery film The Sword and the Sorcerer. After that, Pyun went on a tear, pumping out tons of fantasy and science fiction films, some of which became cult favorites like Cyborg with Jean-Claude van Damme or Alien from L.A. with Kathy Ireland. Nemesis, Kickboxer 2, Dollman, and so on and so forth are all his work. You will notice that all of this tends to be cult schlock, and yes, that’s why we love him; because Albert Pyun is at best considered “high-concept” and at worst considered one of the worst directors of all time. He gets name dropped beside Ed Wood, which as far as I’m concerned is a serious seal of approval.

In Omega Doom, he makes some questionable choices as always, like adding in whirring noises for almost every single movement of a character. Yes, we know they’re robots, we don’t need a sound effect when someone turns their head. We also have characters obsessing over how guns would be so great to have, yet they can basically fly (keep an eye out for ceiling rails and wires) and throw knives that somehow end up glowing faster than a bullet can fly. Also, they drink water instead of alcohol. Does any of this make sense? No? That’s fine, it’s a Pyun movie. Best to leave it alone. There are even a couple of shots where a wounded robot falls back, and I think a hole in her gut was supposed to be green screened in, but they never got around to it, so she just has green fabric where the wound is supposed to be. It’s a great movie like that.

And that’s not even getting into the variety of actors we see throughout, some of whom move like break dancers doing the robot the entire time, others who do literally nothing different from how they would normally move, and one dude occasionally going into slapstick routines to show that he’s struggling to control his new robot body. His antics even have Rutger Hauer cracking up, which makes me wonder whether it was more from this guy he was working with or knowing how bad the movie was and wondering how such a fantastic actor could end up doing, well, this movie.

Look, this movie has a script where characters randomly throw out phrases like “don’t lose your megabytes.” I guess we shouldn’t have been expecting Shakespeare. After all, it requires a narrator, and narrators at the start of films are almost never a good sign. You can get away with scrolling text to establish a scene, but if someone has to literally tell you what’s going on, you’re probably not going to have a good time. Probably. Conan the Barbarian is the exception, not the rule, but then it’s the greatest movie of all time, so we can’t fault it for that. Take that, Casablanca.

So, do you like incomprehensible fight scenes, dialogue so bad it will make you hang your head in shame, terrible sound effects, and a handful of actors that don’t all know they’re in the same movie together? Do you want to see Rutger Hauer laughing at what his career has become? Do you like green screen and low budgets? Do you think “Omega Doom” sounds like a good name? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will probably enjoy watching Omega Doom. And if you answered yes to “Omega Doom” being a good name, you need to find a mirror, stare at your reflection, and then slap yourself across the face for thinking something that a 12-year-old would name their Dungeons & Dragons character is a good idea for a movie title.

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