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  Eve of Destruction Lethal Ladybot
Year: 1991
Director: Duncan Gibbins
Stars: Gregory Hines, Renée Soutendijk, Michael Greene, Kurt Fuller, John M. Jackson, Loren Haynes, Nelson Mashita, Alan Haufrect, Maryedith Burrell, Normal Merrill, Craig Hensley, Greg Collins, Eddie Matthews, Tom Morgan, Tim Russ, Kevin McCarthy
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Doctor Eve Simmons (Renée Soutendijk) is a scientist researching robots, with an aim to creating the most convincing human-simulating androids she can, and she believes she and her team have finally made something close to a breakthrough. They simply need a few more weeks, and then she thinks she will have perfected them, which is why she allows one of the androids, Eve VIII, out into the wilds of San Francisco where it is permitted to ride the trains to observe how it manages with interaction in the real world. It is almost propositioned by a man in the same carriage, but brushes him off - however, the bank robbers it encounters have a far worse effect.

1991 was the year of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, of course, which brought us this far lower budget cash-in from British music video director Duncan Gibbins. He had made his name creating four minute wonders such as the Club Tropicana video for Wham!, but was keen to branch out into feature films and achieved that ambition with cult romance Fire with Fire, and this less-well received sci-fi action hybrid. With horrible irony considering the title of his debut film, he would die in a Californian brush fire a couple of years after Eve of Destruction, trying to rescue his cat (the animal survived), and his legacy remained more or less in those pop videos rather than the cinema.

Especially as this little item largely went straight to video when it was released, in most territories anyway, but over the years its cheek as a little movie trying to make the best of a very loose connection to The Terminator and Robocop franchises has won it a few fans, particularly when the actual Terminator 3 featured a female robot villain who, like Soutendijk here, was blonde and dressed in red leather. Were the makers of that blockbuster aware of this knock-off and decided it had something worth pursuing? It's doubtful they would admit to it, but there will be a suspicion in your mind that there had been some influence of some sort somewhere in the production process.

There were more quirks here, however, as can be the case with exploitation movie versions of bigger hits, so Eve (the scientist) has based her creation so closely on herself that she shares her memories, which you might think would be a design flaw, and you would be entirely correct in that assumption. As what amounts to a battle droid turns violent when it feels threatened, it wipes out the robbers who murdered its handler as he tried to shoot them both, picks up one of their machine pistols, and sets off to work out its begetter's psychological issues using said weapon. First port of call is a bar and motel frequented by prostitutes and their johns, because the scientist harboured a teenage sexual fantasy about visiting such a location. Trouble is, men who use women in that way are not the most polite or respectful.

This is why Eve VIII ends the evening with a bitten-off penis in its mouth, and when the cops show up, its largely bulletproof exterior means it can wipe them out and go on its way. Only one thing for it: Call in Gregory Hines! He played the none-more-manly-named Colonel Jim McQuade, and he is an expert at defusing dire situations with unpredictable and violent individuals, so he teams up for a shouty relationship with Simmons as she tries to explain all the special features in the robot, and he responds with angry incredulity. There could be something here about sending up the madness of the arms race with more and more destructive weaponry, or there could be a sly dig at men who abuse women, or at the very least treat them as if solely intended for their entertainment, but in the main it was about the action sequences and a slight sense of humour just about detectable about how absurd this was. In truth, it never fulfilled its potential, but the finale in the subway was worth sticking around for. Soutendijk, alas, saw her American chances evaporate. Music by Philippe Sarde.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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