Saturday, February 1, 2014

Android Cop (2014)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long


Company: The Asylum

Runtime: 86 mins

Format: Screener

Plot: In the year 2045, a Los Angeles Police Department detective and his new Android partner enter the Zone, a forbidden section of the city plagued with an unknown disease. There, they discover the source of the illness and uncover a troubling Government Conspiracy at the center.


Review: I'm still anxiously awaiting for my BluRay copy of Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, the third movie in the infamous Mega Shark series, to arrive in the mail, however in the meantime the fine folks at Asylum sent my way a screener of another new movie of theirs to review, Android Cop, set to be released this upcoming Tuesday on February 4th.

As you might guess, Android Cop is very much Asylum's glorious return to mockbusters by riffing on the upcoming RoboCop remake. Asylum has landed themselves in plenty of legal troubles over the last couple years because of their mockbusters (The Day The Earth Stopped, Age of Hobbits aka Clash of the Empires, and American Battleship aka American Warships being the top guilty parties), and because of that it seems lately they just don't do as many mockbusters as they once did. In fact, off the top of my head, the last one I can remember them doing was the After Earth mockbuster, Apocalypse Earth, and that was almost a full year ago in just a couple more months. I love their original stuff as well, don't get me wrong, but I've always held a special place in my heart for Asylum's mockbusters. For one, it was what originally led me to them way back in the days of Snakes on a Train, H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and Transmorphers. Secondly, it's always fun to see just how close to the real Hollywood blockbuster it turns out and in turn which one ends up being more entertaining. So yeah, of course I was pretty excited to come home from a crappy day at work to find a screener waiting for me for Asylum's much-anticipated return to mockbusting by way of Android Cop.


Much like with Universal Soldiers, we're kind of just plucked down into the middle of the story without much backstory to go off of, which has always been an annoying story format that I hate. We have to kind of figure out the characters and their relationships with one another on our own, in addition to having to pick up on little throw-away dialog lines here and there in order to grasp just what's going on at the point in the story that we're dropped into. From what I could gather in the opening minutes, Android Cop takes place in a semi-post apocalyptic future. I say semi because we do see shots and have scenes that take place in bustling, glistening, beautiful cities of glass, however this portion of the movie takes place in the rubble and debris of a destroyed and radiation-infected Los Angeles, dubbed "The Zone" by our lead cop character as played by Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Arrow, and Spawn starer Michael Jai White. He and his partner are on some kind of mission into The Zone in search of a specific suspect that is moving among the leftover homeless people, crime lords, and mutated cannibals that reside in what's left of the city. During this mission, something malfunctions with a computer-controlled sentry gun at the border and it accidentally shoots and kills Michael Jai White's partner, thus leading to his distrust of anything computerized and mechanical that isn't fully operated by a human.

Before even the 6 minute mark he's retrieved from The Zone, only to be sent right back in with another team for backup where, once again, they're almost all taken out, this time by street gangs, until a new mysterious robotic police officer shows up, decked out in black body armor gear and a tinted helmet visor – the title character himself, the low-rent RoboCop wannabe with no personality and a strong unwavering attitude against law-breakers, Android Cop (named Andy, but honestly Android Cop sounds so much cooler, so that's what I'll be referring to him as for the review). Of course there's distrust towards him on the part of Michael Jai White's character because he simply just does not trust machines anymore, which frustrates him all the more once they reach back to the precinct in the city and he finds out that this Android Cop, the first prototype in what the higher-ups hope will be the future of Law Enforcement, is to be his new partner.

As you can probably already tell since all that makes up only the first 10 minutes or so, the movie moves at breakneck speed, starting off right in the thick of things and hardly letting you even have a moment to breath till the end. The rest of the movie plays out pretty much as you can expect, with the two of them working together on a top secret case that leads them through the underbelly of their city and out into the anarchy-ridden Zone, with Michael Jai White learning along the way to accept his robotic partner and even, eventually, trust him while the Android Cop finds his humanity, as these things tend to go in these movies, while also inadvertently uncovering a vast Government conspiracy that also involves some of the top-ranking officers in the police force and their very own Mayor.


So yeah, the movie is pretty generic, but it still manages to be a hell of a lot of fun, largely in part cause of the fast pace of it but also because it's another example of an Asylum mockbuster done right. It has tastes of what it's mockbusting (really, the whole robotic cop angle and most of the subplots dealing with that is obviously directly lifted from RoboCop, and the fact that its body is black, as is the new upcoming reboot of RoboCop's, so that isn't fooling anyone), but there's so much more to the movie that it does separate from all that - For example, there's a subplot in here where they discover that when citizens are in life-threatening accidents and are rendered unconscious, their bodies are kept on life-support while their consciousness are secretly transported into replica android bodies, but without their knowledge so they never know (a debate as to the legalities and moral issues of that also pops up), meaning there could be potentially hundreds if not thousands of sleeper Androids walking around, just ready to be activated by a corrupt person in a position to do so. Stuff like that in this movie actually reminded me quite a bit of the final few episodes of Power Rangers RPM (sorry, spoiler for those not caught up on a 5-year old TV show). Hell, there was even a plot twist in regards to that, late into the movie that I initially called earlier on, but totally forgot that I had called while the movie went on, so it still came as a surprise to me when it happened, and it was a very logical and welcomed plot twist at that.

Even the CGI effects, though there's not much with this one, which is an odd thing to say about an Asylum movie as they're usually all decked out in crappy-but-fun CGI money shots, the few we do get consist of some very well-done futuristic flying vehicles and a couple decent explosions. The rest of this movie was done with practical effects, from the Android Cop himself to the Mad Max-style spiked cars and mutant cannibalistic savages that populate The Zone. In matter of fact, while on the topic here, it's pretty safe to say that more than RoboCop gets mockbusted, as there are plenty of shades of movies and shows I've already mentioned, such as Mad Max and even Power Rangers RPM (though I'm doubtful that last one was on purpose), while I also got some vibes reminiscent of The Terminator, Nemesis, and even Lethal Weapon at times. Even if for some strange reason the movie is not keeping your interest on it's own, you should at least be able to have a fun game of 'Guess That Homage/Rip-Off' with your pals, which will keep you occupied right to the end.


The acting was also filled with lots of good stuff to entertain – Michael Jai White especially was in top form, as he always is, and was just as good here as he is in anything else. A lot of bigger named actors, when in movies such as this, tend to not really bother trying I find, but Michael Jai White, I tell ya, really seems to be a professional when it comes to these things. He also had excellent, and at times humorous, chemistry with his Android partner, which is saying something considering one of them purposely had no personality of their own. They only part of their partnership I wasn't a fan of, was the actor they got to play the Android Cop, Randy Wayne of Honey 2 and Dukes of Hazard: The Beginning fame. It's not that he was bad at it, on the contrary he played the role perfectly and put into the buddy-cop chemistry just as well as Michael Jai White did, but my issue comes down to the fact that he's just so short and scrawny, especially when standing next to Michael Jai White, that even with the thick robotic body armor on, he came across like a pipsqueak when on-screen at the same time as him, and that guy only had to bring himself to the table to look pretty threatening. There were times when criminals were sweating off their fear when face-to-face with the Android Cop and I was just left wondering... Why? If anything they should have busted a gut laughing at the visual gag that is this duo of a tall muscular man in nothing but a tight t-shirt and this short skinny guy decked out in thick body armor, yet the level of intimidation being felt by them was reversed from how it should be.

Admittedly though, he did look pretty damn cool whenever he was firing guns off, but considering this is a sci-fi action movie, I wouldn't expect anything less when it comes to the gunplay scenes (of which there are plenty). Other than that, the only times in the movie that he actually came across as looking all that badass and intimidating, was when he had his tinted-visored helmet on, something that doesn't happen very often; He's wearing it when he's first introduced and then he doesn't put it back on again until far later into the movie, however it's in a scene that is almost cheer-worthy when he finally does pick it back up and put it on, because you know he's about to kick some ass and shit is gonna get real.

In addition, Charles S. Dutton even shines nicely here as the corrupt Mayor and plays the role with such gusto that I'm sure he probably thought he was in a theatrical movie, because I can just not see such an established actor putting that much effort to good use in such a low budget B-Movie. Not that I'm complaining, mind you - I'll never, ever, complain about top-notch acting in a B-Movie.


Sure, the movie has a bit rushed and sloppy of a beginning, and the Android Cop himself may have been slightly miscast when it comes to his size and overall visual intimidation level, but there is so much other stuff to love in this movie, and so much more of it that's done surprisingly well, that it's easy to overlook those minor issues and not really be bothered by them come the time the credits roll at the end. Android Cop is more than just a good, fun, entertaining return to mockbusting for The Asylum, it's an all around good, fun, entertaining movie, period. I know that unless the word 'shark' is in the title somewhere than it seems like Asylum never does sequels anymore, but I would love to see a second movie with these characters on another case and foiling another conspiracy of some sort.

If this is the caliber of movies we can be expecting from The Asylum during 2014, than this is going to be one hell of an awesome year to be an Asylum fan.

Dead or Alive, you're coming with... oops, sorry, wrong movie.

9/10 rooms in the Psych Ward



6 comments:

  1. Ever since I heard that the kickass Michael Jai White was cast in this, I just knew I had to see it (I do try to see all of the Asylum's movies, but this one jumped super high on that list).

    I am very pleased to read that's as fun as I am hoping!

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  2. Replies
    1. Keep in mind that's 9/10 in relation to other B-Movies. I rate B-Movies in relation to each other, separate from big budget theatrical movies, so a 9/10 for a B-Movie is not the same as a 9/10 for me for a big budget theatrical movie.

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  3. I liked it. I would say it was a B+ movie

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  4. I have this sitting on my shelf ready to watch, i never bothered. But thanks to this review i might give it a watch soon when i have some free time as i love micheal jai white.

    http://wildcinemamoviereviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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