R.O.T.O.R. Almost like Terminator… almost

Movies so bad that they’re good have their own fan base, steadily growing.

Tomasz Bot

14 January 2024

R.O.T.O.R. Almost like Terminator... almost

The hit of this category is The Room – a super-trash that amused crowds to the extent that a film about the behind-the-scenes of its creation was made. Samurai Cop, showcasing its incompetence at numerous cult film festivals, also manages to do well.

R.O.T.O.R. isn’t as bad as the aforementioned, but it’s a solidly botched film. It’s hard to believe, considering the genuinely cool poster suggesting a good, atmospheric cyberpunk/post-apocalyptic vibe. However, the graphics are the only successful element. The rest is a constant “WTF” and a doubt whether it’s still a movie or perhaps a strange dream. The pleasure of encountering this film can be compared to watching a guy hitting on Monica Bellucci with gold teeth or a drunk clown at a party.


Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research. That’s what the policeman of the future is supposed to be. In short, R.O.T.O.R., which sounds a bit like a motor, which it will indeed be. And in a free translation, it means a killing machine for criminals like marijuana dealers or careless drivers. Law enforcement without feelings, without fatigue; pure efficiency. It’s just a project for now, supposed to be completed in a few decades. R.O.T.O.R. ‘s father is Eric Coldyron, a dedicated cop-scientist. However, a high-ranking politician orders the robot to be activated right away. Coldyron refuses, but the machine “wakes up” by mistake (unfortunate use of a comb by one of the scientists…). The robot hits the streets – uncontrollable and deadly. When it notices a traffic violation, it will show no mercy.

The film looks like its creators dreamed of something on the level of Terminator and RoboCop, but their concept hit a snag, and on screen, bloody scraps splattered on chewing gum. It’s an 80s movie, one of those that – probably only thanks to an outrageous poster – found their way on tapes to such different places as Poland or Japan.


The first half is basically boring. It could be condensed into fifteen minutes. Instead, we watch Coldyron’s daily life. We know how many vitamins he takes, what he eats for breakfast. We know that for his morning coffee, which he also gives to a horse, he chews on a carrot. He likes to shave smoothly and blow up trees with dynamite. He meets a certain brunette, has many conversations at the robotics institute. And he always looks like his back hurts… Like probably every cop in the USA, he’s a robotics expert, quotes Milton, and knows karate. He has the appearance of a 70s porn actor and a melancholic nature. The latter we know because we hear his deep voice in the off, probably a nod to Blade Runner, but here the actor utters obvious lines that clearly derive from the plot. When we almost forget that there’s supposed to be some robot involved, the hero goes to a store and gets into a shootout with a gang of thieves, which looks like a standard scene from Seagal or Stallone movies and has nothing to do with the overall story. R.O.T.O.R. is only activated halfway through the movie. And it starts to get more interesting. It also looks like a porn star or a regular at the Blue Oyster. His attributes include a black, very stylish motorcycle, an equally black suit, mustache, sunglasses, and a helmet. The motorcycle has the motto engraved: to judge and execute, which refers to Judge Dredd. The robot usually appears in clouds of dramatic smoke. Sounds cool? Well, it sounds like it.


R.O.T.O.R. is a mechanical angel of death. And that’s how he behaves – showing no human traits. Instead, he has the ability to look into the past, using night vision! He reads past time by “sniffing” it from the air – a wonderful skill, placing him much higher than Terminator or RoboCop. However, he struggles with horns – they drain his power, which can be explained by the fact that the machine is unfinished, but it looks comical. R.O.T.O.R. also has trouble grabbing opponents when they are inches away from him – his hands flail in the air helplessly, and he beeps with some electronic distortion. However, it must be admitted that as a motorcyclist, he is fast and agile. But if you expected that after his entrance, the film would turn into a clash between the machine and gangs, drug dealers, and urban crazies, and the guns wouldn’t stop rattling even for a moment, you’ll be disappointed. R.O.T.O.R. kills a guy who exceeded the speed limit, and then chases his fiancée, traveling in a car as a passenger and victim of her boyfriend’s insults. And when the robot decides to “finish off” the innocent woman, he will chase her until the end of the movie.


Coldyron and the woman, who looks like a square skunk and also had a hand in creating the robot, will try to stop him. However, it will be a less spectacular and cheap chase, where stupidity chases stupidity. Without spectacular shootouts and – well, almost – explosions. If someone feels that there are not enough absurdities, motifs from better movies ground into mush, splashes of trash, rest assured that the creators did not set limits for their incompetence. We will also see a robot from the institute where the hero works – a being that looks like an air conditioning installation wrapped in foil, talking and joking as if it broke free from Star Wars but lacking any charm. All the characters in the film are outrageously cheesy. The actors portraying them usually started their careers with this title – and ended them with it.

The pinnacle of everything, however, will be the “final showdown,” about which I can only say that it looks like the “hit-and-pull” scenes from The Sopranos… and a bit like a Monty Python parody of action movies. Additionally, we’ll get a few plot twists at the end, so we don’t think we’ve got some obvious, banal title.


The shots are average, maintaining a B-class level, although some nighttime sequences have their charm. The music – not the worst, but heavily inspired by Brad Fiedel’s soundtrack for Terminator. Its author, David Newman, is now a popular illustrator for comedies and animations and one of the few creators of R.O.T.O.R. who… rose after this production. Additionally, the film is adorned with pop and country songs, with which the director slows down the first half of the film. Cullen Blaine, previously making cartoons for children, returned to cartoons after R.O.T.O.R. Not surprisingly, his first non-animated film is a tearful attempt to imitate Verhoeven or Cameron, reflecting the dark side of the talent of those creators.

As a tap with a film sludge, the title works really well. It’s not a remarkably bad film, but solidly, decently botched. I recommend watching in groups. Ritualistically. Sharing both good and bad moments. With permission for unrestrained reactions and in the spirit of the gutter. If you watch it alone, you won’t be sure if the screening really took place.