This month's random selection includes a Filipino child-borg, Jack Lemmon's son and the guy who gave Indiana Jones his hat.
The Bionic Boy and The Return of The Bionic Boy
1977, 1979 | Philippines | 95m each
Director: Leody M. Diaz, Bobby A. Suarez
Starring: Johnson Yap, Marrie Lee, Joe Sison
“He's might survive, but he'll just be a living vegetable.”
The young son of an Interpol agent is left horribly maimed when his parents are crushed to death in front of him (this is meant to be a family romp). He is put back together by scientists and given extraordinary speed, strength and agility.
Comically dubbed Filipino capers abound in these charming and occasionally imaginative adventure movies. The sequel is a two-fer, also acting as the follow-up to the previous year's Cleopatra Wong, an ill-fated effort by studio BAS to develop an Asian movie heroine in the blaxploitation mould. It also features some brilliant mechanical dragons.
1994 | USA | 104m
Director: Richard Pepin
Starring: Jack Scalia, Evan Lurie, Bobby Johnston
“Did you steal my brain?”
An elite police unit comprised of state-of-the-art robots break their programming and become homicidal. A good robot and a robot-hating cop must work together to track them down.
Unremarkable apart from Jack Scalia's overacting and an unhinged turn from Martin Brooks as the android's creator (presumably cast because he played the scientist responsible for The Six Million Dollar Man). The plot is dense enough to avoid tedium and it's not as bad as its IMDb rating suggests, although that's probably a negative rather than a positive.
1986 | USA | 74m
Director: Sandor Stern
Starring: Robert Conrad, Karen Austen, Richard Young
“There's an assassin on his way here to kill me. This assassin... is a robot.”
The CIA's new toy is a robot that's indistinguishable from a real man. Surprisingly it goes nuts and runs off, so Robert Conrad interrupts his retirement to grumble after it.
Pleasingly gentle TV movie in which Richard Young (the guy who gives a young Indy his hat in the flashback sequence from The Last Crusade) marches about assassinating people. Lots of very serious middle-aged white men in beige suits discuss clever solutions before it finally blows itself up.
1991 | USA | 88m
Director: Peter Yuval
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Chris Lemmon, Brett Porter
“Clean as a wolf's tooth.”
A Russian military android defects to the West and becomes embroiled in a secret organisation's attempt to take over the world.
The IMDb credits Christopher Plummer with over 200 film appearances across seven decades, and Firehead has the lowest user rating of them all. It's quite unfair in a way – this isn't half as bad as that statistic would have us believe. It's a big dumb mess, but it's in focus, coherent and surprisingly funny at times. The last is thanks to the lead, Chris 'son of Jack' Lemmon. His screen persona is identical to his father's, which makes him an unusual choice to star in an action movie but guarantees occasional outbreaks of charm and wit.