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GUNHED - 2 Slimes
Rated R
Copyright 1989 Toho Co & Sunrise Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 31 August 2008

The Characters:  

  • Brooklyn - I can deal with his carrot stick-munching fetish, but the fact that a junkyard military robot had to explain the history of American baseball to this guy is almost inexcusable.
  • Nim - A tough, soft talking, female Texas Air Ranger who wears perfectly form-fitting pants. Where can I get one of these? I mean the woman, not the pants. I can buy her the pants. To be honest, I don't care if she comes with pants or not.
  • Seven - He's just a Kenny with a limp. Move on.
  • Gunhed #508 - It can use whiskey as fuel! At first, I applauded the manufacturers of such a revolutionary machine, but then I realized something: that means less whiskey for me. It can, however, ingest gallons of liquor and still walk on its rollerblades (the joy of gyros). I can barely walk on rollerblades when sober.
  • Eleven - She can only talk in charades. In a world filled with lasers, spikes, and killer robots, trying to communicate with her is a surefire way to become distracted just enough that it gets you killed.
  • Babe - Do you know the first thing I noticed about this character? That she had a nice moonbeam. She gets trapped in a Max Headroom virtual nightmare and self destructs.
  • Bansho - The leader of the scavangers. Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, and Isaac Asimov teamed up on this guy (it was more like a complete lack of Asimov, but you get my drift).
  • Bombbay - I think that a tow truck killed him.
  • The Bioroid - If they ever remade "Return of the Fly" as a cyberpunk film...
  • Kyron5 - The computer overlord never makes a personal appearance, though it does sic its pet "Aerobot" on any intruders. Both the Aerobot and the computer mastermind are disassembled, despite prominent "No Disassemble" stickers on both of them. Why do manufacturers put stickers on things? It's not as if anybody reads them.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Something that confuses me about "Gunhed" is the timeline, which is odd because everything is clearly identified by dates. However, the movie starts by describing Texmexium, the revolutionary fuel created in 2035. It then retreats more than a decade to chronicle the brutal battle that was fought on island 8JO between a Gunhed battalion and Kyron5's robotic army. Most of the combat took place within the huge industrial structure that houses, and in a way is, Kyron5. At the end of the battle, the Gunhed battalion was completely destroyed, and the rogue computer was left with a single war machine: the Aerobot. In any case, we then jump forward to sometime after 2035, which is when most of the movie takes place.

The short section that chronicled the doomed Gunhed battalion's struggle against the suddenly human-hating supercomputer and its minions is my favorite part of the film (well, except for Nim). I wish that the script had focused there, rather than the tribulations of a couple of outlaws many years later. Unfortunately, model special effects like "Gunhed" uses probably require lots of skill, time, and money - which undoubtedly put the kibosh on the movie featuring dozens of Gunheds and robots. Overall, it is still a neat attempt to make a cyberpunk style film.

Following the ruinous battle to destroy Kyron5, humanity forgets about the island. It is just another haunted battlefield on a planet littered with hundreds of others. Perhaps it is less haunted than most, because machines do not have souls. Island 8J0 is nothing, just an area marked as a forbidden zone on navigational charts.

Forbidden zone or not, Brooklyn and his scavenger buddies believe that the remnants of Kyron5 are a guerilla recycler's dream come true. In the future, the world has gone seriously downhill. Groups like Brooklyn's scour the globe for salvageable equipment. It is dangerous work, but anyone resourceful enough can make a killing by picking over the concrete and steel bones of destroyed cities. The real treasure is not silver or gold, but electronics and computers. Braving the dangers associated with scavenging, such as killer robots, automated defense systems, and local warlords, is just another day at work for Brooklyn.

Can you imagine fighting a laser-shooting cyborg that has buzzsaws instead of hands, only to find out it was guarding a case of Cyrix x86 chips? Man, I would be pissed.

Kyron5's gigantic edifice is not the sepulchral tomb of artificial industrial intelligence that it appears to be at first glance. Soon after the scavengers enter the facility, they start getting picked off by mechanical defenses. While they are fleeing pell-mell through the metal hallways they find Nim; she joins the criminals (the scavenging they do is not entirely legal). Having a cop around does not make the cyberpunk thieves very happy. They knock the female Ranger unconscious by stepping on her head. At least I think that is what happens. When Nim wakes up, she is not very happy with Brooklyn, who was left there to guard her.

More people die, and the few survivors, meaning Brooklyn, Nim, and Babe, arrive in Kyron5's control room. It is a strange place; there is a pool filled with green liquid, walkways, monitors, and computers. I paused the movie and stared at the screen, because I could swear I ran into that very same room while playing Doom or Quake many years ago. Anyway, the humans are attacked by the out-of-control Bioroid that Nim chased all the way from Texas. The Bioroid stole a Texmexium crystal and brought it to Kyron5. Such a power source could reactivate the damaged artificial intelligence. Nim kills the Bioroid, but Babe falls into the water and gets spunked by giant electrons. The weird quarks of artificial nature turn her into a new Bioroid, albeit one that is not entirely loyal to the robot masters.

Whenever Babe is defying the Bioroid's will, the movie cuts to a shot of Babe. It looks like she is trapped inside of a static-filled television.

Brooklyn and Nim soon encounter Seven and Eleven. The two children are descendents of the people who were assigned to the massive facility when Kyron5 woke up and suddenly said, "Everybody who is human has to go." It is the kids who lead Brooklyn to the badly damaged Gunhed. He immediately starts fixing the weapon of modern war. With a functional Gunhed at their disposal, they might have a fighting chance against Kyron5.

The movie suffers from the story being stretched out - badly. It is quite noticeable, even to someone who is used to watching characters muck around for no obvious reason (besides padding the running time to ninety minutes). I mean, Brooklyn fixes the Gunhed, takes it out for a trial run, changes it to tank configuration, rides the freight elevator, gets shot at by automatic defenses, and generally spends fifteen minutes delaying the inevitable end of the film.

Maybe watching the Gunhed running around was kind of cool, but when it ran out of coolant and Brooklyn had to climb out of the cockpit and dodge lasers on foot to retrieve some new cylinders of coolant, that was padding, and it was not cool. He should have installed a couple more heat sinks into the Gunhed. Something, anything, to keep him from jogging around while Kyron5's laser sentry guns responded to the movement with human-roasting beams.

This whole time Nim and Eleven are climbing their way out of Kyron5's massive tower. It is a thousand stories tall, and Nim wants to climb out via a service ladder. No...way...lady. OK, well maybe I would climb a steel ladder for a thousand stories, but only if a sexy-sounding female Texas Air Ranger was climbing in front of me.

Horses will do the same thing for a carrot; my carrot just needs blonde hair and skin-tight leather pants. Anyway...

The Bioroid takes the Texmexium crystal from Nim, and Eleven turns out to be infected with some sort of a sleeper program that Kyron5 put in place years before. She turns into an emotionless zombie and heads for the computer's control room. So, in case you missed it: to reactivate Kyron5 the Bioroid needs both Eleven (who now looks like she swallowed a flashlight) and the Texmexium crystal.

Not ready to admit defeat, Brooklyn overcomes an unexpected fuel shortage by filling the Gunhed with whiskey. The talking tank races to reach the control room in time, but the Aerobot gets in the way. The Aerobot is quite capable of dispatching a single Gunhed; the mechanical mauler starts blasting and smashing Brooklyn's little toy to pieces. Have you ever watched "Robot Wars?" Imagine, if you will, that one of the machines is a plastic robot armed with a ping pong ball cannon and a balsa wood club. The opposing design incorporates a wood chipper and a sledge hammer mounted on a tracked metal chassis. Yeah, it is that bad. The Gunhed is no match for the powerful robot champion. If you can believe it, part of this section even seems strung out to pad the film.

Never one to say, "Die." or "This is not covered by the warranty." Brooklyn improvises while the Aerobot is beating the 10W-30 snot out of the Gunhed; the hero manages to pull off a win. Babe helps the humans to overcome the Bioroid by committing virtual suicide, and the group escapes in Brooklyn's (it used to be Bansho's, but he is dead, so I guess it belongs to Brooklyn now) weird VTOL jet bomber. Despite the fact that we just watched Kyron5 disappear in a nuclear fireball, and despite the fact that the Gunhed was inside when Kyron5 became a textbook case of nuclear fusion, the humans receive a goodbye message from their fallen metallic hero. The Gunhed died happy.

This brings me back to worrying if machines have souls. If they do, there are a whole bunch of alarm clocks and laptops up in Heaven, and none of them are likely to be happy with me.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The key ingredients in a perpetual motion machine are: corn, jalapenos, beans, and cumin.
  • Once the robot overlords arrive, everywhere looks like Detroit.
  • Astronomy and espionage are cousins.
  • "Radiation" is just a word the government invented to scare people.
  • If you squeeze a person's big toe hard enough it will cut off the blood supply to their brain, and they will faint.
  • Electrons are computer sperm.
  • The bigger the dryer exhaust conduit, the harder they fall.
  • WWII bomber caps were "1 size fits all."
  • Robot genealogy is so simple that a 1st grader could do it.
  • Don't fire until you see the red translucent taillight assembly that represents their eyes.
  • Happiness is a 75mm gatling gun with an electric firing system; unhappiness is the recoil.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 6 min - What maniac crossbred a B-17 Flying Fortress with an F-4 Phantom?
  • 10 mins - An old Club Med would be a treasure trove of silicon, not plastic.
  • 13 mins - Pepsi: The Choice of a Ruined Generation.
  • 28 mins - It was all just a dream! You are homeless, you sleep in a cardboard box, and you lost control of your bladder six years ago after drinking homebrewed hooch that was almost pure methanol. Welcome back to reality.
  • 32 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST...UM...SOME RANDOM PIECE OF JUNK!
  • 46 mins - Aren't you forgetting something, like the screwdriving bit?
  • 60 mins - If that is a rabbit foot, I never want to meet a Japanese rabbit in a dark alley.
  • 74 mins - "I need a mechanic. I'm holding out for a mechanic 'til the end of the night..."
  • 94 mins - I know what you are looking at right now. Don't worry; everybody else is looking at the same thing.

Quotes: 

  • Brooklyn: "Just how far can we go in ten minutes? Maybe a hundred levels. Mr. Gunhed, let's go to tank mode."
  • Brooklyn: "Go for it, Gunhed, and don't get drunk!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note gunhed1.wav Brooklyn: "Where did you get this?"
Seven: "It's just trash from the robot war."
Brooklyn: "Where is this trash? Tell me!"
Seven: "Ah! Run!"
Robot Laser Sneaky Thing: **ZAP!**
Green Music Note gunhed2.wav Nim: "Texmexium..."
Brooklyn: "It's stronger than nuclear energy."
Nim: "So, you're a bandit turned Gunhed expert turned physicist."
Brooklyn: "Yeah. Beverly Hills high school; I should know."
Green Music Note gunhed3.wav Gunhed 508: "I'm not dead yet. My sensors detect the presence of a fuel-like substance in the vicinity. It's in those vessels."
Brooklyn: "Those vessels? The whiskey kegs? A robot and whiskey...so long."
Gunhed 508: "My reactor can be turned to metabolize any ethyl alcohol variant, including whiskey."
Green Music Note gunhed4.wav (Clanking sounds.)
Brooklyn: "Seven, don't play with the bomb!"
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipgunhed1.mpg - 5.1m
Brooklyn and Gunhed 508 go up against the Aerobot. "Go for it Gunhed, and don't get drunk!"

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2]
Re: Gunhed
Reply #9. Posted on September 02, 2008, 08:44:36 PM by DavidFullam
An anime version was made around the same time. Have no idea if it was an improvement.
Re: Gunhed
Reply #10. Posted on September 03, 2008, 10:29:12 AM by Flangepart
Interesting concept, a robot that runs on alcoholic beverages.  Cheers  Was Gunhed a predecessor of the Bender unit?
Now I'm thinking of the next FUTURAMA flick, and Bender gets all gunned up and aims to misbehave. Thumbup
Re: Gunhed
Reply #11. Posted on September 03, 2008, 10:07:06 PM by Andrew
I think that the film's promise is shown in those first few minutes, when it relies on all atmosphere and some very good model work to show the Gunhed battalion's doomed attack on Kyron5.  If the film had been about that, vice Brooklyn and his buddies, then it might well have been a great cyberpunk film.

Of course, then we would have missed out on Nim, and that would be a shame.
Re: Gunhed
Reply #12. Posted on November 11, 2008, 09:31:55 AM by WilliamWeird1313
I remember seeing this movie for the first time years upon years ago, thanks to a late, late, late night showing on the Sci-Fi Channel. I thought it was a hoot, and then I thought I'd never see it again. Maybe a year and a half after that I saw it again on another late, late, late night showing on the Sci-Fi Channel, and this time... I taped it.

I find it endlessly entertaining to watch the opening credits, which are made up pretty much entirely of Japanese names, and then seeing "Directed By Alan Smithee" pop up.
Re: Gunhed
Reply #13. Posted on November 19, 2008, 10:53:19 AM by Sitting Duck
It would have been cool if at some point Gunhed would utter, "Bite my shiny, metal arse."  Cheers
Re: Gunhed
Reply #14. Posted on November 02, 2010, 02:24:25 PM by Trekkie313
I gotta see this movie, awesome soundtrack.
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