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Omega Doom
(1997)
 

Director: Albert Pyun                                         
Cast:
Rutger Hauer, Shannon Whirry, Tina Cote


It's an Albert Pyun movie - what do you expect? End of review.

What?...Oh, I can hear some of you out there saying, "Who is Albert Pyun?" *Sigh* It looks like I'll have to write an explanation of who he is, and review this movie to give those not in the know an idea of the man. All I ask of you is not to request, or expect, another Albert Pyun on this web site ever again.

Albert Pyun is an Hawaiian born director who has made a career and an infamous reputation of incompetent B-movie filmmaking. His movies generally are science-fiction travesties and frequently include cyborgs or robots, usually involved in his obsession with stories involving battles between humans against cyborgs or robots. Surprisingly, his first movie, the 1982 The Sword and the Sorcerer, wasn't bad at all, and this fun movie remains his only good movie. (Some people defend his 1993 movie Nemesis, but I'm not one of them.) Since then, his disasters have included Alien From L.A., Cyborg, Captain America, Brain Smasher...A Love Story, Heatseeker, Adrenalin: Fear The Rush, and Omega Doom.

Now you are probably thinking, "Okay, if you think he's such a bad director, then why did you watch Omega Doom?" Several reasons: (1) I want people to know about him so they will not make the mistake of renting one of his movies, (2) Despite being such a bad director, Pyun has made a big impression in the B-movie world, so every B-movie site should deal with him at least once, (3) The movie was picked up by the major independent production firm Largo, and was distributed by a major video label, so it seemed there might be at least a little decent material, and (4) I didn't have to pay to see Omega Doom - my sister-in-law provided me with a free screening copy she had at work.

It's the future. Artificial intelligence has been perfected, and mankind creates robots to serve and work for them. Eventually, the more sophisticated robots declare war on mankind, and war breaks out. Just after nuclear weapons are detonated, robot Omega Doom (Hauer) is struck in the back of his head by a bullet, which wipes out his directives. Meanwhile, humankind is mostly wiped out - we get this from the image of a foot smashing down on a human skull, an image plagiarized from Terminator 2. The remaining humans go into hiding, and the remaining robots get involved in an intense civil war. Sometime later, Omega Doom reappears from the wasteland, somewhere in the southwestern United States. He wanders around the ruins, and the viewer is struck by the fact that the ruined buildings look European (The movie was shot in Slovakia.) Oh, the explanation for that is that Omega Doom has wandered into a ruined theme park and is in the "Old World Europe" part of the park. Boy, that Pyun is sharp, isn't he?

In the middle of the exhibit, Omega Doom finds two robot factions - the Roms and the Droids - stationed at opposite ends in a cease-fire. Previously, they were fighting so the victor could find a rumored cache of guns nearby and use them to eliminate the hiding humans. In the middle are two trapped pacifist robots, one a former teacher, and a female robots which runs the local "bar", serving water to the robots on both sides. Though why robots would need water - or smoke cigarettes - is never answered.

If you're thinking to yourself, "Is this shaping up to be a rip-off of A Fistful Of Dollars?", you are absolutely right. Like in Dollars, the lead character asks one of the innocents which side is stronger, and then kills to show the other side he's worth hiring. And then consequently, he goes from one side to the other to sabotage and weaken. The characters are even dressed in longcoats a la the Sergio Leone westerns. Also they have western-style shoot-outs using some sort of futuristic weapon in scenes so incompetently filmed, you never really see the weapon or how it destroys the opponent.

Even if you've never seen A Fistful of Dollars or its inspiration Yojimbo, viewers will be be very bored by this version of the story. The locations are dreary and shot in very overcast skies, making the proceedings very depressing. And it was a mistake making all the characters robots; even if these robots have artificial intelligence, they are still lacking in emotions and feelings. Why should we feel any kind of emotion if a good or bad robot gets blown up? I didn't care what was happening to anyone, nor did I care what might happen next. Pyun does come up with a somewhat different ending to this story, which has been ripped off other times before. Instead of the usual ending where all the opponents are killed, he stops it just before then to make a potential future with the remaining characters not fighting each other. But since the characters here are robots, it seemed to make no difference to them whether they ended one way or the other.

About the best that can be said for Omega Doom is that it isn't the worst Albert Pyun movie. But unlike other Pyun movies, this is pretty slow going. With most of the action taking place in one small area, it doesn't leave a lot of room for variety. Most of the movie is made up of static shots of robots standing stiffly and talking. There is occasionally something to make you smile; a line like "Don't confuse me with logic" or a crummy special effect. But a lot of this stuff has a depression undertone to it. Maybe that comes from living behind the Iron Curtain for so long. Nobody seems to be having any fun here, and neither did I.

Thanks for the loan of the tape, Marnie. I guess.

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See also: Terminal Justice, Tycus, Survivor

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