So way back in 1988 Hong Kong had their own awesome version of Robocop, an ass kickin’ lady cyborg named Maria! Yes, the action/sci-fi flick ‘I Love Maria’ aka ‘Roboforce’ is easily one of the best 80’s movies I’ve seen coming from that region of the world since I started going down the rabbit hole of odd ball Hong Kong cinema a while ago. I must admit, a lot of Hong Kong films during that era are usually pretty hit or miss, many with confusing, nonsensical plots & often weird slapstick potty humor that likely loses something in the often rudimentary english translation provided. However ‘I Love Maria’ definitely hits the right beats on the humor, action & plot to make it stand out as not merely a foreign remake of Robocop but a uniquely charming little sci-fi adventure all of it’s own. The plot’s indeed pretty outrageous, but to a large degree that’s what makes it a so much damn fun. It’s also filled with some memorable characters that at the end of the day, leave you with some warm fuzzy feelings about friendship & the importance of true camaraderie. So what’s it all about you ask?
So the vicious “Hero Gang”, is a downright nasty criminal terrorist organization (I know odd name for the gang then huh?), hell bent on wreaking all out havoc upon the streets of Hong Kong with their unstoppable killer robots: Pioneers 1 and 2! While Pioneer 1’s a giant hulking armored unit, Pioneer 2’s been modeled after “Maria“, the Hero Gang’s devious second in command. When Pioneer 2 gets damaged during a secret assassination mission, it’s taken into the custody of a curious hi-tech weapons inventor employed by the police force named “Curly”. He secretly repairs & reprograms her with new coding that triggers changes to her logic center. Pioneer 2 begins to develop her own unique heroic personality and soon Curly finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly battle against The Hero Gang. Banding together with a drunken ex-gang member named “Whisky” & “T.Q.”, a bumbling news camera man, the four of them embark on a dangerous mission with the fate of Hong Kong in the palm of their hands!
‘I Love Maria’ is a must see for fans of odd 80’s sci fi, the three main human characters have some great chemistry together, one of which is cult director Tsui Hark (Detective Dee, Double Team, Once Upon a Time In China), who hams it up thoroughly as the heroic alcoholic ‘Whisky’. The special effects work is pretty stunning as well, especially when it comes to Maria battling the ‘Pioneer 1’ robot. They bash though walls, fire rocket launchers for their arms and fling eachother around like rag dolls on the streets of Hong Kong. They never skimp on spectacle here either as there’s a plethora of explosions, Hi-tech weaponry, martial arts battles, car chases & of course awesome robot beat downs to behold here. There’s also a pretty interesting duo of villains, the brother & sister leaders of The Hero Gang who also happen to be in love. Throw in “Mr. Vampire” himself, Lam Ching Ying in the mix to showcase his always amazing kung fu and you’ve got yourself a frenetic sci-fi action flick here that never lets up.
That all being said the real star of the show is clearly the charismatic cyborg Maria, who not only lights up the screen with her robotic butt kicking but also with her curious charm. A largely forgotten rad 1980s female action hero that more people need to discover. Hunt this one down, especially if you dig over the top, 80’s, sci-fi action stuff that really fires on all cylinders: unique characters, stunning practical fx, sets, locations and just pure cybernetic mayhem a’ plenty . Stick around all the way through the end credits as well, where you’ll some of the sweetest scenes of the movie. Someone needs to jump on releasing and cleaning up some of the amazing Hong Kong horror/sci-fi stuff out there from the 80’s & 90’s, there’s so many forgotten, rarely seen gems for fans of cult cinema in the USA. Until then this one’s actually pretty hard to find, but definitely worth the effort!
Today the trailer dropped for highly anticipated (?) sixth Terminator film in the franchise! I’ve definitely not been very excited for this one, the last three Terminator movies have been majorly disappointing, so why the hell would this seem like a good idea to try this all yet again? Well, it’s supposed to negate all of the movies of the franchise everyone hated AND bring back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor for another round of battle against the angry machines. I guess that’s enough to get fans to check it out right? The trailer looks like it’s trying to borrow a bit from T2’s winning recipe but one thing that’s got me perplexed is just how bad the special fx here look. How is it T2 which came out in 1991 appears to have better visual fx than a movie that came out almost three decades later? The CGI on display here looks like it was ripped straight out of a video game, I’m thinking that ‘Dark Fate’ is showing just how much this franchise is missing an FX wizard like the legendary Stan Winston working on it.
This trailer for the most part seems passable, and will likely be better than ‘Terminator: Genisys’ but still I’m not seeing enough here that truly feels like it’s bringing something fresh to the table for the franchise. I’m willing to give it all a fair shot but damn, that terrible song playing during the trailer isn’t exactly helping bring that classic vibe to the table either. A variation on the original Terminator score would have been much better here than some bad “edgy” ballad. A lot of current trailers make this bad decision to try and insert some crappy song in them and ultimately end up killing the excitement for a movie. It is pretty damn cool to see Linda looking all bad ass again and of course seeing Arnold is always a good thing. I’m hoping that this time around they give him a different role, becuz him being an aged Terminator reminds me way too much of ‘Genisys’ at this point.
It’s entirely possible that he’s actually the man who created the Terminator in his own image? That’d feel like a fresh role for Arnold at his age that really hasn’t been explored in the movies. Hopefully they’ll go with that angle to mix things up a bit. I’m also curious where the hell John Connor is these days? I realize they want the focus to be on strong female leads, which has always been prevalent in the franchise, but part of me wishes that Ed Furlong somehow pops up in the movie. I know, wishful thinking as Edward has had a lot of drug related issues these days and last I saw he wasn’t in very good shape to say the least. Still it’d be so nice to see that classic trilogy of characters reunited somehow. Anyway so far it looks like this new Terminator just might be another failed attempt at reviving the franchise, I hope I’m wrong!!