Yes. Two lava lamps. This is because Omega Doom, while still worse than 99% of the other movies on the planet, is better than all of the Albert Pyun films we've seen so far. Pyun's name is on the box, though, so you just know it can't be good.
Our hero, the opening narration tells us, is Omega Doom, a robotic soldier in a war between robots and humans. The humans are nearly gone from the face of the planet. On a post-apocaplyptic field of battle, we find O.D. in the midst of wrestling with one of the last remaining human soldiers. Just as O.D. is about to wipe out humanity, a dying soldier fires a last round and hits Doom "in his program." We're not sure where that is, exactly, but it probably hurt.
When we see Doom again, he's wandering around eastern Europe, which is, conveniently, where Pyun can afford to shoot his movies. According to the script, he's somewhere in the U.S., but in an abandoned amusement park, which has an "Old Europe" section. It also has "Dodge City" and "Medieval Japan" themed sections, an acknowledgement of the fact that the basic story was stolen from A Fistful of Dollars and, in turn, Yojimbo.
The Roms and the Droids are currently in a standoff. Somewhere in the park there lies buried treasure: guns. These have become scarce, and each side plans to use them to wipe out its enemies and defend itself against the rumored onslaught of humans who want to retake the Earth. Unfortunately, there are now too few individuals left on either side to risk a direct confrontation, and so each group waits for the other to find the weapons. Into this mix comes Omega Doom, who does his best to trick the Roms and Droids into wiping the other out.
Right away we know we're in Pyun territory because we have an enormously complicated setup that manages to neither make sense nor be all that important to the action that follows. Why do the robots need guns? They have weapons called shanks (or maybe shenks, or shinks) that seem to be higher tech than guns. And there is no reason for all the characters in this film to be robots. The only direct evidence we have that most of the characters are robots is that they make whirring sounds when they move. Quite a few scenes unfold sounding as if ED-209 is powering up in the next room.
In this role, Hauer is either putting forth a brilliant acting effort or coasting his way through yet another b-movie, depending on your perspective. If you think that Omega Doom should be a robot with no emotions other than the occasional smug, knowing look, then Hauer's the man for the role. If, on the other hand, he should have feelings like all the other robots seem to have, then it's pretty obvious that he's just stopping in front of Pyun's camera on the way to another paycheck. Granted, the script doesn't give Hauer many chances to display his acting range, but the other actors are playing robots too, and they managed to change expressions now and again.
Speaking of the other actors, we were minorly impressed with the appearance of Norbert Weisser as The Head. Weisser, a character actor with wildly fluctuating film credits, is called in on lots of Hollywood assignments (The Rocketeer, Schindler's List) where a German character actor is needed. With a name like Norbert Weisser, it is hard to accuse him of portraying Germans in a negative light.
Also hiding out in Omega Doom is the voluptuous erotic thriller veteran Shannon Whirry. Her fully-clothed appearance in this film is apparently part of her attempts to move away from a career as a t&a specialist, but judging by the calibre of her performance, she may find herself out of a career altogether. Memo to Whirry: There's nothing wrong with a career of taking your clothes off on film -- just ask Shannon Tweed. Why the sudden aspirations towards a "real" acting career? On the other hand, ending up like Maria Ford isn't a desirable thing either.
There are a couple of neat nods towards the (ahem) "cinematic roots" of this movie. The best example is the method of combat employed by the robots. Their shanks are a combination of throwing knives, laser guns, and those glowing frisbees the guys in Tron kept throwing at one another. It allows the androids to have some sort of weaponed combat in a world without guns (plain old swords wouldn't work too well on metal, we suppose), and it gives some of the showdown appeal of Fistful of Dollars. Unfortunately, Pyun lets us down once again. The fights happen so quickly and are edited so poorly that we never get a good look at how the shanks work. Still, they do make a cool noise when they power up.
Omega Doom may technically be one of Albert Pyun's better films, but at best it will still leave most audiences merely disinterested. If you're bothering to subject yourself to Pyun's glacially slow pacing and ridiculous stories, we suggest you rent films with higher kitsch value, like Hong Kong '97 or Spitfire. After all, if you're going to go out of your way to hurt yourself, you might as well do it right.
Review date: 2/22/99
This review is © copyright 1999 Chris Holland & Scott Hamilton. Blah blah blah. Please don't claim that it's yours blah blah, but feel free to e-mail it to friends, or better yet, send them the URL. To reproduce this review in another form, please contact us at email@example.com. Blah blah blah blah.